Winners of St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Awards revealed as 2015 festival reaches a spectacular finale

People enjoy eating in the street

People enjoy eating in the street - Credit: Archant

St Albans Mayor Salih Gaygusuz proved he could whip up a tasty dish when he took to the stage for a cookery demonstration at the finale of this year’s St Albans Food and Drink Festival.

The Mayor, a former restaurateur, joined other professional chefs, including Phil Thompson from Thompson@Darcys, to reveal the secrets of their trade to the thousands of visitors who attended Sunday’s finale.

Other highlights of the day included a pop-up village green in St Peter’s Street, a City Farm with live chickens and acoustic music sets.

Herts Advertiser food writer Becky Alexander was on hand to recognise the winners of our first food writing and photography competitions.

She said: “I was so impressed with the variety of subjects covered in the writing competition. We had evocative travel accounts, restaurant reviews, humour, and entries about local food, all within the 500 word limit. Our winner is Irene Boogerman for her warm and funny tale of being an ‘allotment widow’!

“We also enjoyed looking through the food photography; there is so much to capture in the local area, with our markets, cafés and restaurants and the winner Sally Oates captured this with her photograph of the French Market in St Albans. Well done to Irene and Sally!”

Cllr Beric Read, portfolio holder for community engagement and localism at the district council, said: “The St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Festival is a brilliant two-week celebration of the wide range of food and drink businesses in the district.” The festival culminated in Monday’s Food and Drink Awards which recognised the most popular businesses for the excellence of their produce and service.

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The Mayor added: “Every establishment and producer that was shortlisted for an award deserves high praise for the quality of their food or drink. I congratulate all the entrants and encourage everyone to support their favourites and maybe also to try out somewhere new.”

The Food and Drink Awards winners were announced at a ceremony in Sopwell House Hotel yesterday (Monday).

Earlier this year the public was invited to select their favourite food and drink businesses. Members of the festival steering group then visited the shortlisted venues anonymously to judge them against specific criteria for each category.

The winners were:

Best Bar - Mokoko Cocktail Bar & Grill, Verulam Road, St Albans

Best Independent Food/Drink Shop - BEER:shop, London Road, St Albans

Best Café - Barrisimo, St Peter’s Street, St Albans

Best Newcomer - Dylan’s at the Kings Arms, George Street, St Albans

Best Local Producer - Hedges Farm Shop, North Orbital Road, St Albans

Best Local Restaurant - Lussmanns Fish & Grill Restaurant, St Albans

Best Pub - The Boot, Market Place, St Albans

Best Takeaway - Lebanese Kitchen, Stanhope Road, St Albans

Most Family Friendly Venue - Relish Real Burgers, Civic Close, St Albans.

The coveted award for Food and Drink Champion of the Year was presented to Sean Hughes of Dylan’s at the Kings Arms and Sean also received the Kate D’Arcy Award for Exceptional Customer Service. This award was given in memory of Kate D’Arcy, a much-admired local restaurateur who died in 2010.