2013 Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards, Hilton Deansgate, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 19:50 09 December 2013 | UPDATED: 20:00 09 December 2013
The Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards is the most glittering night in the region's culinary calendar
It was a landmark setting for a landmark occasion. Manchesters Hilton Hotel, housed in the North of Englands tallest building, was the appropriate host for celebrating and rewarding the successes of the highest achievers in the Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards.
More that 300 leading lights from the best hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars together with a gathering of key sponsors, celebrities and guests, enjoyed one of the most glittering occasions of the culinary calendar. The change of venue for this years ceremony and gala dinner gave guests ample opportunity to enjoy the culinary skills of the Hiltons executive chef David Gale and his brigade, working with exceptional locally sourced ingredients.
The occasion was once again generously sponsored by Robinsons the award-winning family brewers, based in Stockport.
Recognition of the outstanding quality of local produce governed the destination of one of the key awards of the evening - and not only was the accolade Cheshire Life Food Hero of the Year thoroughly deserved by the Goostrey-based enterprise Pig & Company, but the success of Julian and Anna Price was the story of the night. It was only three years ago that the couple bought the Grade II listed Blackden Hall intending to live the good life after careers in advertising and management consultancy.
Julian said: Following a heart attack in September 2010, however, Anna and I reassessed our priorities and decided that, along with our 19-year-old son Richard, wed like to raise free range, rare breed pigs and then create a business that produced delicious, authentic food from the pigs. Good food has always been a passion for us and so have animals: our business, Pig & Co. is the fulfilment of this dream, even if so many of our family and friends thought we had gone completely mad.
After the award he said: We are extremely proud. And we had no idea! Unlike the other awards, this one doesnt have a pre-announced shortlist, so we came along just for a good night - and what a good night it turned out to be. It was a great honour to be recognised for our efforts in combining the best animal welfare with the best possible food and is a fantastic end to the awards year for us.
There were celebrations at tables around the room with the announcement of every winner, none more so than when The Mere Golf Resort & Spa in Knutsford scooped the coveted Cheshire Life Hotel of the Year award. The accolade was doubly satisfying for the winners for it rewarded the major 15m investment in redeveloping The Mere, relaunched only in March last year.
This is a fantastic achievement for us and we are absolutely delighted to win such a highly coveted award. It recognises the consistent effort and commitment to delivering an outstanding service by the entire team at The Mere, commented co-founder and CEO Mark Boler.
Chairman and co-founder Gary Corbett added: Weve been very focused on ensuring all areas of the resort deliver an outstanding experience to every customer that comes through our infamous arch and stays at our resort. This independent award acknowledges what weve achieved since we re-launched the resort,
Being named Cheshire Life Restaurant of the Year was yet another feather in the cap for Contessa Hotels and their flagship Hillbark Hotel at Frankby in the Wirral, already awarded five stars and three AA Rosettes. The restaurant, Stewart Warner @ Hillbark will see some changes, but Contessa Hotels owner Craig Baker, who flew in from Dubai specially for the awards dinner, and his wife Lisa said: We are delighted to have won such a fantastic accolade for our restaurant, reflecting our AA five star status as well as being recognised by such an esteemed panel of regional judges.
This impressive award is testament to the skill and hard work and attention to detail of our entire dedicated team, from our chefs to our front of house and restaurant management team, that we have been recognised for the consistent high quality and creativity our guests expect at the restaurant.
Highly commended in the awards of 2011, the Ring oBells, Christleton, went one better in 2013, becoming Cheshire Lifes Dining Pub of the Year. This award-winning pub in a charming village just outside Chester strikes all the right notes in its new lease of life under the direction of owner Ian Wade and head chef Andrew King who has struck up rewarding alliances with local producers of fine ingredients to create fantastic regional signature dishes. Completely in tune with the renaissance of the great British menu, the Ring o Bells now boasts the addition of The Glasshouse in which to serve it.
A delighted Ian said of his pubs triumph: When I heard our name it was a case of shock, realisation...and joy! I am so proud that all our hard work has resulted in us winning such a prestigious award.
The glamorous evening began with drinks and canaps in the Hiltons chic Deansgate Foyer before Cheshire Lifes editor Louise Allen-Taylor, Roger Borrell, Group Editor of Archant North and Rhiannon Wragg, Publishing Director of Archant North took to the stage to welcome guests to the fabulously dressed Deansgate Suite.
After dinner the awards were announced and presented by television presenter Claire Smith, from Chester, to the winners judged best in their respective categories. The panel comprised Louise Allen-Taylor, Roger Borrell, Philippa James, Lancashire Life cookery writer who runs a successful cookery school, Trevor Stone, former executive in charge of AstraZenecas catering operation nationwide, Rosemary Watts, highly respected food consultant and Ray King, Cheshire Life food writer.
The Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life Award for Outstanding Achievement, brooked absolutely no argument. The arrival in Manchester of Simon Rogan, whose LEnclume in Cartmel boasts two Michelin stars and scored a perfect ten in the latest edition of the Good Food Guide, has proved to be a game changer, not only for the city, but for the region as a whole. And the evening was a double triumph, for The French by Simon Rogan at the Midland Hotel, also scooped the accolade Manchester Restaurant of the Year.
Simon said: I am extremely happy and surprised to have won both of these awards, and delighted that The French has been recognised - its testament to the fantastic and hard-working team.
Michael Magrane, general manager of the Midland Hotel, said of Simon Rogans success: Its a fantastic story and only eight months in the making. The great thing about Simon is that although hes originally from Hampshire he regards himself as a North-West chef and hes done an awful lot for the region. Hes not just a name above the door but very hands-on, working and progressing and teaching the youngsters.
The award for North Wales Dining Excellence went to Tyddyn Llan, Corwen, the restaurant with rooms run by Bryan and Susan Webb who are no strangers to high praise, not least in the current Good Food and Good Hotels Guides.
The Italian Club Fish, Maurizio Pellegrini and Rosaria Crollas fish caf, sister restaurant to their Italian Club further down Bold Street, with its menu of fish dishes marrying British and Italian styles heavily influenced by the couples Scottish-Italian background, was named Liverpool Restaurant of the Year.
Canaps served with Montelvini Superiore Asolo Prosecco DOCG and Dizzy Blonde beer.
Supplied by Robinsons Brewery
Locally smoked peppered mackerel and soft herb cheesecake with smokes salmon, toasted almonds and pancetta crisp.
Fish supplied by the Lune Valley Smokehouse.
(V) Toasted Lancashire rarebit with soft boiled egg salad and red onion confit.
Braised Cheshire reared shin of beef with bone marrow crumble, mashed potato, squash pure and red wine jus.
Beef supplied by Cheerbrook Farm Shop
(V) Mushroom ravioli with basil cream sauce, garlic spinach and toasted pine nuts.
Mango and lime delice, passion fruit glaze, lime fruit pastille, tropical fruit gel, crme fraiche sorbet, coconut tuile.
Supplied by RFW Events
Original Reserve mature Cheddar, Red Leicester with Geetas Indian Mango Chutney, Kidderton Ash, Traditional Lancashire, Blacksticks Blue.
Supplies by Joseph Helers Cheeses and Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses
Coffee & Petit Fours
Frederico Pinot Grigio Collezione
Monte Carbonero Tinto
Wines supplied by and exclusive to Robinsons Brewery
Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life Outstanding Achievement 2013
Sponsored by Robinsons Brewery
Chef Simon Rogan
Cheshire Food Hero of the Year
Sponsored by Marketing Cheshire
Pig & Co, Goostrey
North Wales Dining Excellence
Sponsored by Joseph Helers Cheeses
Tyddyn Llan, Corwen, Denbighshire
Cheshire Hotel of the Year
Sponsored by RFW
Mere Golf Resort & Spa, Knutsford
Cheshire Dining Pub of the Year
Sponsored by Stephensons
Ring oBells, Christleton
Cheshire Restaurant of the Year
Sponsored by Cheerbrook Farm Shop
Stewart Warner at Hillbark, Frankby, Wirral
Manchester Restaurant of the Year
Sponsored by Journeys of Distinction
The French by Simon Rogan, Midland Hotel, City Centre
Liverpool Restaurant of the Year
Sponsored by Precious Things
The Italian Club Fish, City Centre