2016 Winners

Green Company of the Year

Sponsored by Marlow Stoves

We all want to ensure that Berkshire & Buckinghamshire is looked after and preserved in all its glorious beauty for generations to come. This company is environmentally friendly, sustainable and evangelical about issues affecting our countryside.

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Farm Shop of the Year

Sponsored by Tims Dairy

A good farm shop needs to have that extra-special something to tempt shoppers away from their local supermarket.

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Best Farmers’ Market

Sponsored by Royal Windsor Racecourse

The key to a good Farmers’ Market is not only the range of produce and the quality of its stalls but also the principles that it supports.

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Food and Drink Producer of the Year

Sponsored by Hazlemere Windows

We are looking for local food and drink producers who consistently provides both top-quality local produce and service to their customers.

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Tea/Coffee Shop of the Year

Sponsored by Windsor Royal Shopping

Tea shops are an integral part of the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire food and drink and the winner Who makes the best tea, serves the nicest cakes and the freshest scones? Is the jam home-made and are the sandwiches freshly cut and liberally filled?

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Pub of the Year

Sponsored by Marketing Foods

As well as excellent food and drink, this pub must offer fantastic, friendly customer service and real value for money. Good pubs are genuinely the hub of their local community.

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Best Family Dining

Sponsored by Strutt and Parker

This is the place that never fails to keep the kids happy, without forgetting the parents. Somewhere offering tasty, nutritious children’s meals and entertainment in a welcoming environment.

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Newcomer of the Year

Sponsored by Stoke Park

This popular category was open to anyone in the food or drink industry who has started a new venture within the last 18 months.

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Chef of the Year

Sponsored by GA Constructions

The Chef of the Year should be someone who has devoted him or herself to the cause of serving the best possible food in one of Berkshire or Buckinghamshire’s excellent restaurants.

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Restaurant of the Year

Sponsored by Berkshire & Buckinghamshire Life

The Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Restaurant of the Year needs to offer an incomparable dining experience, from the ambience to the service and most importantly the food.

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High Street Hero of the Year

Sponsored by Fenwick Windsor

It may seem our high street shops are fading fast, but there are plenty of independent shops and businesses deserving of the spotlight.

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The Pride of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Award

Sponsored by Heathfield School – Ascot

This special award recognises individuals and businesses which actively and proudly promote the great local produce Berkshire and Buckinghamshire has to offer.

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 Berkshire & Buckinghamshire Life Food & Drink Awards Winners 2015

And the Winners Are:

Farm Shop of the Year 

Winner: Lockey Farm Shop

http://www.lockeyfarm.co.uk/

Highly commended: Saddleback Farm Shop

Highly commended: Boycott Farm Shop

Judges Comments: ‘Lockey Farm sell eggs, lamb and pork produced on their farm and make their own sausages. They supplement this with a range of  meat, vegetables and other products from local farms and businesses where possible. What I liked about Lockey Farm was its inclusive feel. There is a large play area and animal viewing area to encourage local families to bring their children. The cafe is well used and the day we visited there were workers from a nearby construction project enjoying the full English breakfast.’

Best Farmers Market

Winner: Vale Harvest
http://valeharvest.weebly.com/
Highly commended: Maidenhead Farmers Market
Highly commended: Beaconsfield Farmers Market

Judges Comments: ‘What I really loved about this market is there is a great sense of community. The organisers really care about the event, and a lot of love and passion is put into its organisation. On the day of the review it was raining very heavily, and despite this, the organisers moved the event inside and carried on regardless. This was also clearly communicated through social media as well. There was really a sense that they didn’t want to let the visitors and the exhibitors down and this really impressed me. Also they had so many local producers, and when I say local, very local. The provenance of the market is to support local producers to reach local people, and the community feel and also family feel was evident, despite the rain! The visitors also loved it and is really supported and appreciated by the local community. I also loved the fact that there were local food producers who are now supplying the UK’s finest restaurants, such as Le Manoir, yet they would never miss coming back to the Vale Harvest. From a marketing point of view, the website is also excellent.’

Food and Drink Producer of the Year

Winner: Chafor Vineyard
http://www.chafor.co.uk/
Highly commended: Blossoms Syrups
Highly commended: Honeys of Henley

Judges Comments: All 3 finalists were excellent in their own right but the stand out for me was Chafor Wine Estate.
This guy, Tim Chafor, has planted a vineyard from scratch, taught himself everything he knows and is the most dedicated producer I’ve met. He works 24 / 7 making sure that his grapes produce the best possible wine and it is delicious. He does this sustainably, sells mainly into his locality, hosts events for the locals and markets his product with provenance really well. He even has an alarm system on his phone which tells him if there is a frost approaching so he can go down to the vineyard at the dead of night and light 400 massive candles to warm the vines!’

Tea / Coffee shop of the Year

Winner: The Café Lambourn
http://www.thecafelambourn.co.uk/
Highly commended: Oslar Coffee Shop
Highly commended: Cinnamon Café

Judges Comments:

“I found The Café Lambourn to be a vibrant, clean, cosy café firmly established in the local community in just two years. A seasonal menu that includes fresh salads in the summer and special dietary choices has been tailored to the wants of the many local regulars. There is a great kid’s menu too. Savoury lunchtime offerings are made fresh to order and include a delicious tuna melt sandwich with a mixed in-house filling. Owners Elliot & Anna Field wanted to bring a little slice of Bristol café culture and style to the village of Lambourn and have succeeded. Anna actively invites in mother & baby groups, craft meetings, local art exhibitors, book groups and senior citizens. She is active on social media and has created a Just Giving page on facebook. There are links with the local police – in a good way, and  she offers a free 3 course Christmas lunch for those in need. Staff including the tireless Maria are wonderfully friendly and keen to please. Their motto? “We don’t serve fast food, we serve good food as fast as we can”. Congratulations – well done.”

Pub of the Year

Winner: The Jolly Cricketers at Seer Green
http://www.thejollycricketers.co.uk/
Highly commended: The Farmers Bar at the Kings Head

Highly commended: The Boatman – Windsor

Judges Comments:

‘The Boatman Windsor

This is undoubtably a very popular and busy pub, picking up a lot of tourist trade. The beer and drink selection were of a good choice and standard and the food was delivered in a timely fashion and to a good standard. The service was polite and efficient without been over intrusive. The¥ are working hard to make the pub a hub of the community but in our opinion are not quite there yet. They have a number of initiatives planned, some implemented to try and recognise their locals and ensure they are looked after, at the same time as servicing the visitors and tourists. Some work undertaken with local charity/associations. A very nice local pub with many nice features and touches.

The Farmers Bar at the Kings Head

A wonderful quirky pub with some amazing features such as the tables made out of a brewery floor, food served on wooden boards etc. As you would expect from a brewery pub the beer selection was excellent as was the rest of the drinks and wine on offer. The food was of a very good standard and selection and sourced locally supporting the ‘Farmer down the road’ (in days gone bye the excess yeast produced was sent to the local pig farmer to feed his pigs) Clearly a pub that focusses on social interaction there are no TV’s, or duke box no live music or piped music. Games are offered for people to play whilst enjoying the surroundings. The layout of the pub is very sympathetic to its surroundings dating back to 1455, and was the original and oldest ‘Courtyard Inn’ in England. Clearly a favourite with the locals and passing trade.

Jolly Cricketers, Seer Green  –

I think the location of this pub gives it a little bit of an advantage, set in the middle of a village, however this must not take anything away from what the owners have created.The minute you walk into this pub you can feel the local connection, again much like the Farmers Bar the pub focuses on social interaction with no TV screens and subtle background music, offering a book club (library with alcohol as they call it) bridge club and local quizzes. Many of the clientele were on first name terms with the staff and much conversation flowed between both. The beer selection was of a good standard as was the wine menu and remaining drink selections. The food was of an excellent standard, locally sourced and all home made, not surprising they have received a rosette for it. Listening to the comments of those around us there was nothing but positive comments. This pub is constantly trying to cater for its locals needs not just relying on trip advisor where they score very well, but also using comment cards to solicit constant feedback. As the hub of the community they undertake a lot of charity support work with a number of organisations, two main ones being Mind and Search dogs. Even lending their crockery to one organisation for a fundraiser.

I must say I was very well looked after by all three establishments and my thanks go to all of them.’

Best Family Dining

Winner: The Shurlock Inn
http://www.shurlockinn.com/
Highly commended: Brasserie Blanc
Highly commended: The Squirrel

Newcomer of the Year

Winner: The Cook Curry Club
http://www.thecookcurryclub.com/
Highly commended: Flaming Cow
Highly commended: Chesham Brewery Shop

Judges Comments: Kran welcomed us into her house in  Knowl Hill where she prepares all her food. The day started with sampling curry for a delicious breakfast. We liked Kran’s relaxed approach to bring you freshly prepared Indian food both for takeaways and dinner parties. Having left the pharmaceutical industry she now prepares honest home-cooked dishes where fresh is her motto and she produces healthy dishes with her individually created spices totally different from normal high street fayre to create true Indian cuisine.

All the curries are cooked on the day of delivery using locally sourced ingredients, available from six collection points: Henley, Twyford, Knowl Hill, Wokingham, Binfield Heath and Wargrave and caters for allergens and a lot is gluten free, produced in biodegradable containers.

Kran really goes that extra mile for her customers from service to exquisite food.’    

ROSEMARY BALSDON
Restaurant of the Year

Winner: The Oakley Court
https://www.oakleycourt.co.uk/
Highly commended: Berry’s Taplow House Hotel
Highly commended: Humphry’s, Stoke Park

Judges Comments:

‘From arrival to the final after dinner ‘treats’ and digestifs at Oakley Court, the service is exemplary, knowledgeable and personable, without any hint of patronisation. The team dress in an informal style which is friendly and relaxing, yet still respectful and clean. There is a clear definition of roles between the Front of House Manager, Restaurant Manager, Sommelier and Kitchen, all were welcoming and professional. It was great that one of the chefs came out to present our canapés to us. The Sommelier, Alex’s, knowledge and passion is refreshing and enveloping. From a fantastic wine list that he has selected come tasters of styles that are carefully considered to suit one’s palate and menu choices. We went for the pescetarian tasting menu which had 7 courses. Each menu is very simple with a couple of choices for starters, mains and dessert. It changes daily drawing on what is fresh from the gardens, the locality and uses the best in seasonal produce from many local producers – “We let the food speak for itself” says Head Chef Damian Broom. For instance the honeycomb served with their local cheese comes from their own swarm and you could taste the rapeseed from which the bees had harvested their nectar. All of the team are fully averse with the menu, are proud of its high quality and the provenance of its ingredients – this shone through at every stage. The menu itself is inspirational – simple, fine dining using modern kitchen methods to perfection, beautifully presented and driven by taste and palate, using a simple smattering of clever flavour to frame each part of the dish –  it was truly delicious. We ate celeriac with herbs and truffle; goat’s cheese with sea buckthorn and hazelnuts; turbot with house smoked eel and marmite umami sauce; pine nuts and sunflower seeds risotto with parsnip and chervil roots from the garden; Oxford Blue with Oakley honeycomb; Jersulaem artichoke ice cream with fried artichoke skin and apple; Skyr with passion fruit and carrot, all finished off with an exquisite platter of sweet treats. The aspiration of this small but very tight knit team is to aim for 3 AA Rosettes in 2016, when I asked Damian what he felt he needed to do to get a Michelin star, his reply was a relaxed and honest “nothing” – I think he is quite probably right!’

Chef of the Year:

Winner – Damian Broom – Oakley Court

Highly Commended: Chris Wheeler – Stoke Park

Highly Commended: Tom Clarke – L’Ortolan

Judges Comments:

It goes without saying that Damian’s seasonal, innovative dishes very much impressed the judges and his commitment to local produce was outstanding. But it is the work he is doing at the hotel itself that grabbed the judges’ attention. Damian’s kitchen garden is flourishing with an abundance of fruit, veg and herbs and he and his team regularly forage in the hotel grounds for produce. Damian also oversees the hotel’s very own beehives to produce honey and honeycomb for the restaurant. The kitchen’s green credentials are there for all to see on the hotel’s website and the judges truly admired chef’s commitment to expanding the hotel’s own produce and becoming as sustainable as possible.

High Street Hero

Winner: Tutti Frutti Reading
https://www.facebook.com/TuttiFruttiReading/
Highly commended: Tin Kitchen
Highly commended: Venetia’s Kitchen

The Pride of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Award – Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi