Winners announced for 2014 St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Festival Awards

St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Awards 2014 - Chris Evans from Hatch, Kate D'Arcy Award

St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Awards 2014 - Chris Evans from Hatch, Kate D'Arcy Award - Credit: Archant

It was a raucous, lively and late night at St Michael’s Manor on Monday, as the local food and drink businesses gathered together to hear who had won the coveted St Albans and Harpenden Food & Drink Festival Awards.

St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Awards 2014 - George Fredenham on behalf of Verulam Arms, Bes

St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Awards 2014 - George Fredenham on behalf of Verulam Arms, Best Pub - Credit: Archant

On a rare night out for the pubs, bars, cafés, takeaways, shops, producers and restaurants, everyone was there to have a great time.

Prosecco from Flagship Wines and cocktails from Mokoko got the evening off to a lively start and it took a while to get everyone out of the bar and into The Lake restaurant for dinner.

It is a tough crowd to please, with chefs and producers on every table, but the team at St Michael’s did an excellent job of serving dinner to a packed room of over 140 people.

Radio Verulam covered the awards throughout the evening, with interviews with shortlisted nominees and sponsors, but as the evening got louder, they had to work hard to be heard above the partying.

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The presentations by The Mayors of St Albans and Harpenden, the awards sponsors, and compered by Roma Bhowmick got off to a late start but eventually the winners were announced, amid cheering, standing ovations and rowdy heckling.

Winners were decided by thousands of public votes, alongside scrutiny by the Festival steering group and sponsors.

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It was fantastic to see long-established businesses such as Bourngiorno Italia and Redbournbury Mill alongside newcomers such as Godfrey’s Fish and Chips and Beershop. The Highly Commendeds and Winners lists (below) show the wealth of high quality food and drink businesses we have in the area; we are very lucky!

A special mention must go to Chris Evans, from Hatch, who won the Kate D’Arcy Award for Outstanding Customer Service. Chris has grown his business from scratch and has hundreds of loyal customers; quite an achievement in such a short time and in a small, tucked away location opposite a well-known chain!

Also, for the first time, the steering group awarded a Food and Drink Champion Award to recognise Outstanding Contribution; this went to Johnny Shepherd from The Pudding Stop and The Pud Mobile.

Johnny has created a hugely popular and successful business, winning national recognition. His puddings are exceptional and bring people to St Albans from far and wide. We also love the fact that he supports young local talent, teaching them to bake in a commercial environment. Well done to both.

It was great fun to see all the business owners and teams talking, sharing gossip and slapping each other on the back. There was plenty of friendly rivalry and debate about who won and why, but it was clear that people enjoyed the chance to meet up with like-minded businesses who know what a tough industry it can be. A very good night!

Best Independent Shop (sponsored by the Herts Advertiser) Highly commended: Hedges Farm, Beershop. Winner: Bourngiorno Italia

Best Bar (sponsored by Matthew Clark) Highly commended: Billy’s Bar, The Snug Bar. Winner: Mokoko

Best Café (sponsored by St Albans City & District Council) Highly commended: Bakehouse, Barrissimo. Winner: The Pudding Stop

Best Newcomer (sponsored by SA Law) Highly commended: Thompson@Darcy’s, Beershop. Winner: The Pudding Stop

Best Local Producer (sponsored by Sparshotts) Highly commended: Hedges Farm, The 3 Brewers. Winner: Redbournbury Watermill and Bakery

Best Takeaway (sponsored by Highly commended: Hatch, The Pud Mobile. Winner: Godfrey’s Fish and Chips

Best Pub (sponsored by Zenith Hygiene) Highly commended: Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, The Cock Inn. Winner: The Verulam Arms

Best Restaurant (sponsored by Handelsbanken) Highly commended: Bar Azita, The Foragers@ The Verulam Arms. Winner: Lussmanns

Best Family Friendly (sponsored by Kids a la Carte) Highly commended: The Pudding Stop, Zizzi’s. Winner: Inn on the Park

Kate D’Arcy Award for Outstanding Customer Service Chris Evans, Hatch

Food & Drink Awards Champion Johnny Shepherd, The Pudding Stop and The Pud Mobile.

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