Hawkeshead Relish amongst the winners at Cumbria Life Food and Drink Awards

It was a night of celebration for Cumbria’s food stars, with businesses from across the county recognised at the Cumbria Life Food and Drink Awards.

Held last Thursday at Kendal College for the seventh year,  the occasion saw the founders of one of the country’s most successful craft breweries recognised with the top award.

Alex Brodie, who started Hawkshead Brewery in 2002, together with his wife, Anne, were the recipients of the night’s main award, for Outstanding Contribution to Cumbrian Food and Drink.

Alex, a former BBC foreign correspondent and radio news presenter, has overseen the development of the Staveley brewery into an award-winning nationally known business, with a popular brewery tap Beer Hall and a state-of-the-art brewhouse currently being built at Flookburgh.

The awards  were hosted by food critic and writer Jay Rayner, who said ‘Events like these awards are brilliant for the local community, chefs, restaurateurs and food producers because they shine a spotlight on what’s really brilliant’.

Amongst the other winners on the night were The Hawkshead Relish Company, with their Black Garlic Ketchup awarded with the ‘Best New Product’ category.

Mark Whitehead MBE, MD who devised the recipe said “The awards were an amazing night and to have won the Best New Product category amongst some of the best food producers in the County was just fantastic.”

The closely fought Chef of the Year Award was presented to Kevin Tickle of Forest Side at Grasmere, with runners up Hrishikesh Desai of Gilpin Hotel and Lake House at Windermere and Chris O’Callaghan of The Castle Dairy at Kendal.

Hrishikesh did take to the stage, however, to collect the Hotel Restaurant of the Year award for Hrishi, Gilpin’s Michelin-starred restaurant.

Major awards for the north of the county included Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year for Foxborough in Carlisle and Best Newcomer for Pentonbridge Inn near Longtown.

Special awards included the Taste Cumbria Food and Farming Award for Growing Well near Kendal, a charity which works with people experiencing mental health difficulties.

A Cumbria Life Special Award went to Graham Wilkinson, the principal of Kendal College who retires in May and who has overseen major successes in the college’s hospitality and catering department.

Kath and Liam Berney, owners of The Cottage in the Wood at Whinlatter, were recognised with a Judges’ Special Award and the Rising Star Award went to Matt Campbell, who rose to prominence on TV’s MasterChef: The Professionals.

Cumbria Life Editor Richard Eccles said: “It was a fantastic evening and – win or lose – I hope everyone who was nominated is proud of what they’ve achieved. Thank you to Jay Rayner, our sponsors and all those who helped make the awards such a success.”

The awards, organised by CN Events, are held in partnership with Kendal College. The accountants, business and financial advisors Armstrong Watson are associate sponsor, North West food retailer Booths kindly provided the food for the awards dinner and Lakeland Vintners supplied the reception drinks.

A full list of winners can be found here: