A trio of North East local food champions are tasting national success after flying the flag for the region at the Farm Shop and Deli Awards 2015.
Knitsley Farm Shop near Consett, County Durham, and Latimer’s Seafood Deli and Café on the coast at Whitburn, near Sunderland, beat off tough opposition from more than 500 entries nationwide to come top in their categories.
Latimer’s (which was made famous last year when part time worker Lola Saunders got to the live TV stages of The X Factor) has been named Fishmonger of the Year, beating Yorkshire’s ‘landlocked’ Ramus Seafood Emporium of Harrogate and Veasey and Sons of Forest Row, East Sussex.
Knitsley took the Farm Shop of the Year title – to add to the near 40 other coveted awards the business, run by husband and wife team Rachael and Edward Jewson, has either won outright or been in the running for since it opened in November 2008.
And adding to the regional tally, Cross Lanes Organic Farm near Barnard Castle, County Durham, walked off with a prestigious commendation in the same category.
Knitsley and Cross Lanes came out ahead of the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre from near Conwy and Foxholes Farm Shop in Hertford, Hertfordshire.
Rachael Jewson is understandably ecstatic that the butchery, bakery, delicatessen, café and shop she and Edward run on the 200 acre family farm has won another top honour just weeks after being named the Taste of England winner at the North East England Tourism Awards – which will also see them representing the region on the national stage as they now go forward to the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence being held on home turf for the first time at the Sage Gateshead in May.
She says: “We are overjoyed to have won this category in the Farm Shop and Deli Awards, particularly as our loyal customers were instrumental in the voting process, and our fantastic staff hosted the judge on our behalf, as I was doing the school run and Edward was sorting sheep!”
Knitsley Farm Shop and Latimer’s Seafood Deli and Café must now wait to see if they can scoop the overall Retailer of the Year title set to be announced at the Farm Shop and Deli Show on April 20 at Birmingham’s NEC.
Latimer’s, Knitsley and Cross Lanes Organic Farm were among 12 category winners and 23 commended chosen in this, the second year of the awards, which shine a light on the unsung heroes of the high street and speciality retail scene.
Organised in partnership with Olives Et Al, they celebrate the highest levels of service, product knowledge, initiative, innovation and community involvement, with categories ranging from butchers, bakers, farm shops and delis through to garden centres, food halls and online businesses.
The awards are judged by a team of experts, who after drawing up a shortlist of entrants carried out a series of ‘secret’ visits in December last year to see the nominees in action.
Elaine Lemm, co-chair of judges and a food writer, says of the standard of entries: “The quality, dedication and sheer hard work of all the businesses entering this year showed this is, once again, a sector of which to be proud. It is no wonder that shopping habits in the UK are changing with retail of this quality on offer for the British shopper.”
This year’s awards received a record number of entrants from across the UK, along with thousands of public votes from consumers supporting their favourite speciality retailers.