Following the first-ever virtual ceremony, the winners of Produced in Kent’s Taste of Kent Awards 2021, can now be revealed.
On Tuesday 11th of May, the largest ever audience for the Taste of Kent Awards Ceremony, tuned in to the live streaming to watch the crowning of Kent’s food and drink champions.
In a year of firsts, the judges were looking for the best tasting creations across the county, from producers, growers, hospitality and retailers, and a winner in the newest category to join the line-up, Kent Sustainable Food & Drink award.
This year’s Taste of Kent awards saw a 300% increase in voters compared to last year. This three-fold increase in people casting their votes reflects the significant increase in interest and understanding of local food since the pandemic. The judges had a tough time choosing the winners, with finalists going head-to-head in more than one category.
The winners in the self-nominated categories are:
Kent Diversification Award, sponsored by NFU Mutual - Ashford, Tenterden & Whitfield
Finalists The Meatball Company and Wildbox were both highly commended in this category.
Kent Food and Drink Business of the Year, sponsored by Southeastern
Kent Grower of the Year, sponsored by NFU Mutual – Ashford, Tenterden & Whitfield
Kent Sustainable Food and Drink Award, sponsored by Southeastern
The winners in each of the following categories, are voted for by the public, then judged by experts, mystery diners and shoppers. These are:
Kent Ambient Product of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op
Ketchup Smoké by Brisket and barrel
Kent Bakery and Confectionery Product of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op
Chocolate Brownies by Beardy Baker
Kent Beer of the Year, sponsored by NFU Mutual – Ashford, Tenterden & Whitfield
Session Pale Ale by Cellar Head Brewing Co
Kent Cider of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op
DISCO by Dudda’s Tun Cider
Kent Dairy Product of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op
Free Range Double Cream by Street Farm Dairy
Kent Food Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Southeastern
Foodari Home Delivery
Kent Hospitality Business of the Year, sponsored by Southeastern
Cafe Nucleus Rochester
Kent Non-Alcoholic Drink of the Year, sponsored by Southeastern
Maypole Blend Coffee by Garage Coffee
Kent Prepared Food Product of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op
Scottish Smoked Salmon by Tankerton Smokeshed
Kent Spirit of the Year, sponsored by NFU Mutual – Ashford, Tenterden & Whitfield
George Bishop London Dry Gin by The Maidstone Distillery
Finalists Anno Distillery’s Anno Kent Dry Gin and Copper Rivet’s Dockyard Gin were both highly commended in this category.
Kent Wine of the Year, sponsored by NFU Mutual – Ashford, Tenterden & Whitfield
Herbert Hall Brut Sparkling Wine by Herbert Hall Winery
Kent Food Product of the Year (this is the overall winner of the food product categories)
Scottish Smoked Salmon by Tankerton Smokeshed
The Kent Community Award Legends are:
Emma Barnes from Emma’s Kitchen, East Peckham
Paul & Rani Babra from Karara, Faversham/Canterbury
Eli and Heather Thompson from Olbys Soul Café, Margate
The Taste of Kent Awards is organised by Produced in Kent as the annual showcase of the very best products and food and drink businesses across Kent and Medway.
“In the past year, our local independent food and drink industry has proven its pivotal role in our rural economy” comments Floortje Hoette, Chief Executive of Produced in Kent. “Providing jobs, looking after the countryside, being an advocate for sustainable practices, continuing to grow, make, sell and serve the best food and drink to residents and visitors under very challenging circumstances whilstgiving back to the community.
“Winning an award presents new opportunities for both the winners and finalists, all of whom have worked so hard to get this far. The pandemic has created momentum for the local independent food & drink sector – the public wants to know where its food and drink is coming from and how it has been produced. The Taste of Kent awards are a public endorsement of one’s business and the quality of one’s product – and that will help drive sales”.
The judges’ interviews with the finalists were intense and really highlighted the levels of stress, desperation and financial pain the sector has endured over the past year, whilst also demonstrating its resilience, entrepreneurial spirit and positivity.
“The whole process made for an extra-ordinary and at times emotional judging experience” comments Hoette. “It really made everyone realise, once again, how incredibly hard businesses have worked to get through the pandemic, and the huge potential for success the sector has going forward.
“Produced in Kent is immensely proud to represent local food and drink and looks forward to continuing to help the sector grow in the coming years. A special thank you to the sponsors of this year’s event, without which the finalists would not have had their moment in the limelight and the awards would not have been possible.”
On the 17th of May, Produced in Kent issued its first Taste of Kent magazine, produced in collaboration with ‘Cene Magazine, to celebrate all 2021 TOKA finalists and winners. The magazine, a fantastic tribute to Kent food and drink, will be distributed to hospitality and retail outlets across Kent and will also be available for online viewing.