Top recognition for cream of the crop

Lee Gaskins receiving an award
Lee Gaskins receiving an award

Accolades were served up to food and drink heroes in the Daventry district when the winners of a prestigious culinary award were unveiled.

For the fifth year the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), recognised excellence in the county.

Apple pickers for Vale of Welton cider

Apple pickers for Vale of Welton cider

Locally, Lee Gaskins of The Terrace Restaurant at Highgate House in Creaton won the Aspire Chef of the Year award.

Daventry’s Courtyard Cafe came runner up in the Independent Cafe Award. And the silver award for New Local Drink of the Year went to Vale of Welton Cider for Black Jetty, followed by a bronze for Nobby’s Bewery in Guilsborough for Frank’s Steakhouse Ale.

Winner Lee Gaskins, who previously won Booker chef of the year in 2011, said it was great to win for a second time.

He said: “I feel really good about the award and it’s good to be able to mark Highgate against other chefs in the county.”

Mr Gaskins won with his roast loin of rabbit and hot chocolate fondant dessert with a rhubarb compote.

He said: “They presented us with a dead rabbit with the fur on, but because I live in the country I’ve worked with rabbit before so it didn’t pose too much of a challenge.”

Owner of the Courtyard Cafe, John Silvert, said the cafe, in Bishop’s Court, had evolved since its refurbishment in March.

He said: “It’s awesome to be a runner up, it’s a fantastic reward for us but more importantly it’s a good thing for Daventry, which doesn’t get the warmth and praise it deserves. The fact that we are recognised as the best eating place in Daventry is unbelievable, but that’s what people have said.”

He said co-owner, Anna-Marie, was also the ‘brains’ behind the cafe’s success.

Owner of Vale of Welton Cider, John Malvern, said: “I feel greatly honoured to receive the award. There are many Northamptonshire craft breweries producing excellent ales, for our cider to win an award whilst in completion with them is very special.”

Every aspect of production at the cider works is in-house including labelling and packaging. They also supply to local pubs and restaurants.