Good Food Blog
The Food and Farming Awards 2009Posted at 1:16PM, 03 December 2009 by Jessica Gunn - Features editor - olive magazine
This year's star-studded awards ceremony was held at the BBC's Broadcasting House in London. Due to the headlining guests (drum roll), HRH Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall (in obligatory pearls), security was tight. So tight, we all had to queue up in the freezing cold outside waiting for our bags to be checked and rubbing shoulders with all sorts, including, as it turned out, Nigel Slater, who strolled up right behind the olive and Good Food attendees and proceeded to wait patiently in line.
Just as we'd all become accustomed to such a food celeb presence among us, who should appear out of a car but Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. One look at the queue and last year's Food Personality of the Year whipped around to the front, where he was ushered in immediately. We saw it happen, Nigel saw it happen, but this year's Food Personality of the Year (not that he knew it yet) didn't move a muscle and we all loved him even more for it.
Inside we were hustled into seats to await Their Royal Highnesses. When the 'royal party' arrived, a rather eerie silence fell over the room as we all shuffled to our feet - it was just like being back at school, but quieter and more awkward. Prince Charles stood up on stage and made a fine speech where he praised the awards and all the people involved but failed to mention that as well as being environmentally friendly, all the winning foods are rather delicious, which some might argue was something of an oversight.
It wasn't just the royals causing a stir. Raymond Blanc of BBC Two's The Restaurant was up on stage first to present the award for Best Food Market. He made an exuberant speech, not all of it comprehensible, and clearly rather longer than hoped for if presenter Sheila Dillon's attempts at interrupting him were anything to go by.
The royal presence tends to push people one way or the other when it comes to wardrobe.
Best Local retailer was presented by Jimmy Doherty who arrived suited, booted and on his best behaviour. The royal presence tends to push people one way or the other when it comes to wardrobe. Blur bassist-turned-cheese-maker, Alex James, went the other way - presenting the Best Farmer award in jeans and a very expensive looking leather jacket... undoubtedly more of a success than last year's beard and woolly jumper.
Also in attendance was chef Angela Hartnett, chef-restaurateur Mark Hix, London-based food critic Charles Campion, the diminutive and always immaculate Egon Ronay, the Rt Hon. Hilary Benn MP, BBC director general Mark Thompson, BBC environment correspondent Sarah Mukherjee and BBC Radio Four controller Mark Damazer.
All of which goes to show what a big event in the foodie calendar these awards have become. But what do you think? Do you think awards like these play a constructive role in promoting ethical, sustainable and quality food in the UK? Have you ever voted for or nominated a candidate and who's your food personality of the year?
Best Food Market: The Goods Shed, Canterbury
Best Local Food Retailer: A. Ryan & Son, Butchers, Much Wenlock, Shropshire
Best Dinner Lady or Man: John Rankin, Penair Secondary School, Truro, Cornwall
Best Food Producer: Trealy Farm Charcuterie, Mitchel Troy, Monmouth
Best Retail Initiative: Growfair - Pride of Cornwall, Bodmin, Cornwall
Best Take-Away: The Thali Café, Bristol
Farmer of the Year: Andrew Dennis, Woodlands Organic Farm, Boston, Lincs
The Derek Cooper Award: The Food Ethics Council
Special Judges' Award (The Best Food Producer): Julian Temperley, The Somerset Cider and Brandy Company, Martock, Somerset
BBC Food Personality of the Year: Nigel Slater