Weetabix Food and Drink Awards 2021/22 launches at Northampton's Delapre Abbey

We reveal this year's awards categories and hear from last year's winners

Friday, 14th May 2021, 9:18 am
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 10:13 am

The county's hospitality sector now has cause for a double celebration with indoor hospitality returning next week and the launch of this year's Weetabix Food and Drink Awards 2021/22.

The annual competition - created by the sector for the sector - aims to celebrate all that is great about local produce and drink and recognise those who work hard in the industry.

Marketing Director at Weetabix, Francesca Theokli, said: “As a business deeply rooted in our local community, we know how much the success of Northamptonshire matters. The food

Head chef at Hibiscus, Samuel Squires, with general manager, Elliot Knight.

and drink produced in Northamptonshire is truly second to none, and that’s definitely something worth celebrating.

“We’re delighted to be returning this year as headline sponsors - after what we know was a very tough year for lots of local businesses, these awards are a fantastic way for the sector to come together and support its own.

"We’re looking forward to the great - and hopefully very tasty - things on the horizon for food and drink in Northamptonshire!”

The full details of this year's contest were revealed by awards director, Rachel Mallows MBS at the launch yesterday (May 13). This took place at Northampton's Delapré Abbey- home of Restaurant Hibiscus, which not only took Gold in the 'Booker Dining Venue of the Year' category in 2020 but also saw its head chef, Sam Squires, awarded Gold in the 'Chef of the Year' category.

Having put the finishing touches to their new menus in readiness for their big re-opening next Thursday (May 20), Sam revealed how both prestigious awards have been a huge boost to the restaurant. He said: “The increased exposure, prompted by the announcements, saw a massive influx in new customers making reservations, so much so that we had to open our booking line early to try to cope with the demand.

"It has also prompted us to review everything we do to ensure we create the best possible dining experience and inspired us to come up with some new and exciting ideas, not to mention generated such a feel-good factor across the team, meaning everyone is so looking forward to coming back after what has clearly been a rollercoaster year!”

Those were sentiments echoed by Rachael Templeton of Blue Aurora Wine at Lutton Farm near Oundle, whose blueberry wines picked up a Gold and two Bronzes in the ‘Artisan Local

Drink of the Year’ category.

Rachel explained the valuable impact that their triple success has had on her business. She said: “We were absolutely delighted when the results were announced as part of the virtual celebrations back in November, not least as these were the first awards we’d ever entered and we’ve found the detailed feedback from the judging panel to be both

helpful and reassuring!

“The subsequent coverage we’ve received has certainly helped raise our profile, prompting an increased following across social media and has attracted new customers, leading to our

business taking on two new local stockists so, as you can imagine, we’re thrilled we took the plunge and entered!”

The free-to-enter categories in this year’s awards - with their respective sponsors - are:

◾ Artisan Local Drink of the Year

◾ Artisan Local Product of the Year (Heygates Flour and Animal Feed)

◾ Artisan Local Vegetarian / Vegan Product of the Year (Daily Bread)

◾ Booker Dining Venue of the Year (Booker)

◾ Booker Young Chef of the Year (Booker)

◾ Chef of the Year (Dawn Farms)

◾ F&B Achiever of the Year (Howes Percival LLP)

◾ Food and Drink College Student of the Year (Moulton College)

◾ Independent Café / Tearoom of the Year (Whitco Catering and Bakery Equipment Ltd)

◾ Local Food Hero of the Year

◾ One To Watch (Whitworth Bros. Ltd Flour Millers)

◾ Weetabix Sustainability Award (Weetabix)

◾ World Cuisine Restaurant of the Year (British Pepper & Spice)

The awards, now in its thirteenth year, sees the return of the 'Independent Cafe / Tearoom of the Year' and 'Weetabix Sustainability Award' categories. The latter was introduced for the first time last year to reflect the company's 'Change for Better' commitment to sustainability.

The results of the competition - which will see finalists awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze - will be announced at the awards celebrations later this year.

For more details on all the categories in the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2021/22, including downloading entry and nomination forms, please visit the

Awards’ website at www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk. Alternatively, Rachel Mallows can be contacted on 01933 664437 or [email protected]

Follow the Awards on Facebook at @foodawards or Twitter and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or on LinkedIn at @weetabixnfadawards.