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All the winners from The Young British Foodies awards 2018

All the winners from The Young British Foodies awards 2018

by Laura Martin 28 September 2018

Laura Martin gives us a run-down of all the winners at this year's Young British Foodies awards.

Poke, Ghanaian cuisine and root-to-shoot cooking: we’ve seen a lot of new trends blow up in the food and drink world in the UK in 2018. But on Thursday night, all eyes were on the future, as the scene’s new superstars from across the country were crowned at The Young British Foodies awards.

Now in its seventh year, it shines a light on passionate new chefs, front of house staff, producers and even farmers. It’s become somewhat of a crystal ball for predicting creative forces who will go on to become the best in their field - and that’s not just the farmers.

Previous winners have included Tomos Parry, Adam Rawson, Freddie Jansen and judges on the panel this year included big names in the world of food and drink like Yotam Ottolenghi, Nuno Mendes, Thomasina Miers and Fay Maschler.

The ceremony at London’s The Store kicked off with cocktails and smoked eel onigiri as the presenter for the night, Rosie Lovell, stepped up on stage.

It was straight in with the most coveted prize for best chef, which was given to a – very surprised looking – Roberta Hall from her restaurant The Little Chart Room in Edinburgh, which she runs with her husband, Shaun McCarron.

At the after-show party, Roberta described her cooking as “quite traditional but with a modern twist”.

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Max from Max's Sandwich Shop puts love into every bite
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An array of sweet treats from Lily Vanilli bakery

As guest around us feasted on small plates by AngloThai chef John Chantarasak, mini muffulettas from Max’s Sandwich Shop, cakes by Lily Vanilli and chocolate drizzled soft serve from Happy Endings, she told us about her winning menu for the judges.

She plated up a cured trout starter; whole roasted grouse with sautéed girolles and damson jam and dessert of a bramble lemon tart: “I served up classic dishes with a different spin – like the lemon tart, which was a slight pink colour, thanks to the brambles.” And now she’s got this award under her belt, perhaps we might see her in a competition like Great British Menu next: “It’s definitely given me the confidence to enter more cooking competitions now. I wasn't sure what to expect but it’s been such a great experience.”

Front of house was awarded to L’Enclume’s Laudy Gibba-Smith. She said afterwards: “I thought I misheard them when they said my name! I was nominated by someone for this award, and I still don’t know who it was.”

She said a highlight was being shortlisted and presenting to the judges: “It’s been amazing, we were paired off with chefs, and I was teamed up with Larkin Cen of Woky Ko. At first I had a minor panic as I’d never paired any wines with Asian food before - I love Asian food, but it was a great challenge. Matching the wines and beer with the food was awesome. Larkin was an amazing chef and I loved working with him.”

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Florin Grama of Popham's Bakery picks up the top baking prize
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Chef Richard Turner (left) presents an award to Matt Hill of Cobble Lane Cured

If there’s one thing that’s really thrived in the UK this year, it’s the amount of locally-sourced artisan bakeries, so there was tough competition in this category. But it was Florin Grama of Popham’s bakery who triumphed this year for his innovative spin on pastry. He gave the judges a “dream” selection of bakes that included one with ginger custard nectarines, one with butternut squash, mushroom, goats cheese and sage and a drool-worthy maple and bacon creation. He said it’s their best seller, and it’s easy to see why.

“There’s a new revolution in baking at the moment,” he added. “For us, we love trying out new ideas, but there’s always got to have that base of amazing, flaky pastry in everything we do.”

‘Mindful drinking’ has been one of the drink buzzwords of the year - especially with a fifth of the nation said to be cutting down on their drinking – and it was case in point as the alcohol-free Jarr Kombucha oddly took home the best alcohol prize. One of the founders said: “When we started Jarr we wanted to create something that would bring kombucha to the mainstream and we’ve done it with a flavour that we think is punchy, low sugar, complex and challenging, so it’s really gratifying to see the judges and the public have taken to it as warmly as they have.”

Over in the producers’ section, best meat was awarded to Matt Hill of Cobble Lane Cured, while best vegetable producer was given to Calixta Killander at Flourish Produce. We asked her whether this year was a challenge growing crops, given the stifling heatwave for most of the summer. She said: “It's always challenging with the weather but I think one of the most exciting things we’ve grown this year are the badger flame beetroots.”

Could they make it onto chef’s plates next year? “I hope so,” she said. “They are incredible, they’re sourced from the United States and they’re so sweet and delicious - they don’t have that earthiness that other beets do.”

Other winners on the night included social enterprise Old Spike Roastery for the Giving Back award, while the The Sister Table was commended for Food Sharing and Stroud Micro Dairy – which picked up the Honorary gong – rounded off the night by saying “if we can get more people with hands in the dirt, the better.”

If UK food continues to be of such a high calibre like this, we can’t but help agree.

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