Assessors have once again hailed the excellence of food and drink in Durham with a record number of businesses being awarded Highest Quality Assured in the annual Taste Durham awards.
The Byron Bar and Grill at Seaham Hall scored so highly it has been ranked in the top 4% nationally.
A further 33 businesses have been awarded the top ‘Highest Quality Assured’ status, the largest ever number.
Additionally, 32 establishments have been confirmed as a ‘Local Produce Champion,’ underlining their commitment to sourcing from surrounding areas.
In all 77 businesses took part in the awards this year, a 22% increase over 2014.
Ivor Stolliday, Visit County Durham’s chairman, says: “The food and drink sector is a significant contributor to the visitor economy. It supports more than 4,100 jobs and brings in over £225m to the county’s economy - about 50% of the visitor spend.
“The Taste Durham mark can provide consumers with exactly what they want - independent and trusted information about where to eat. It showcases local eateries that provide a quality experience from cafés to fine dining restaurants across Durham.”
Ramside Hall Hotel, in Durham City, has been a member of the scheme since its second year and has again been awarded Highest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion status.
Tim Boyd, the hotel’s general manager, says: “Our guests appreciate knowing about the local provenance of items on our menus, and as one of the leading schemes in the country which promotes quality food, and especially regional produce, the Taste Durham Award does just that.”
The Durham Food and Drink Guide, which includes information on local producers and food events, such as farmers’ markets, has also been launched.
Jon Chadwick, the owner of Durham Distillery which produces Durham Gin, says: “The Taste Durham awards are not just a great showcase for local eateries but also for local producers who provide the ingredients.
“Furthermore, being in the guide is a huge boost for local producers like us as it informs visitors of the wide variety of produce being produced in the county and where they can buy it.”
For more information about TasteDurham establishments go to www.tastedurham.co.uk