Awards Celebrate Producers who keep Northamptonshire firmly on the Foodie Map of England

Posted 1st May 2024

The sixteenth year of the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards are picking up pace, with more people nominating more food businesses, and entries closing soon for college student and artisan product categories.

Recognising and celebrating excellence in the sector’s brilliant local people, products and places, the competition relies on the support of the sector, which is going strong. And as the awards grow bigger and better each year, the awards organisers need more mystery shoppers to review nominees and see if the proof is in the pudding.

Rachel Mallows MBE, Awards Director said “It’s been a brilliant start to the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink awards season, with entries in from all around the county, representing our excellent regional offering. Producers sustain our families and communities year-round, and need our support now more than ever, due to rising costs and spending pressures”.

Previous winners know how much this competition can mean to a producer.  Jo Rutherford, founder, Your Cool ice cream comments; “Being the Gold winner in the Artisan Local Product category last year was brilliant for me personally. I started artisan ice cream making about four years ago switching from a completely different non-food based career, so winning was not only a huge surprise, but also gave my self-confidence a real boost.  The fact that the products are taste-tested and judged gives the accolade so much weight – and being a winner with such high-quality competition was quite overwhelming – Northamptonshire really does have some fantastic artisan food and drink producers!

I have used the award to promote my business and it definitely helps with corporate and event clients, who may otherwise think twice about using a small business for their events. Whether you are a winner or not, the awards team provides some really valuable feedback, which definitely helps with product development; and the fantastic awards dinner is the icing on the cake. A fabulous evening with the industry’s best from across the county.

Sam Rees, Estate Manager at Boughton Estate, adds; “We were thrilled when our honey received a silver award for Artisan Local Product of the Year. This recognition was a fantastic opportunity to highlight the natural beauty of the gardens at Boughton House, often called the ‘English Versailles’ and recently a film location for Ridley Scott’s epic ‘Napoleon.’ The award also provided an opportunity to share the broader activities happening across the Boughton Estate, and we feel they are a great way to support local business and raise awareness of the excellent produce from our county”.

Likewise, college students go from strength to strength when the sector shines a spotlight on their exceptional talents. Phil Martin, Curriculum Manager Culinary Arts and Travel, Northampton College encourages his students to enter; “The awards provide a fantastic platform to enhance job prospects and attract young talent into the industry. The popular and hugely successful Food and Drink College Student of the Year award, alongside the Booker Young Chef of the Year award and the Canapé Competition, undoubtedly inspire the next generation. They provide a great platform for local young people to embark on successful and rewarding careers in hospitality. It is heartening to see the enthusiasm and energy the awards continue to generate for food and drink in the county.”

Entries for this year’s Food and Drink College Student of the Year, Artisan Local Drink, Local Product and Local Vegetarian/Vegan products all close on 10th May. All Gold award winning products are offered the exceptional opportunity to be entered into the Great Taste Awards.

The free-to-enter categories in this year’s Awards (with their respective sponsors) are:

Artisan Local Drink of the Year (Warner’s Distillery)

Artisan Local Product of the Year (Heygates Flour and Animal Feed Millers)

Artisan Local Vegetarian / Vegan Product of the Year (Daily Bread Cooperative)

Booker Gastro Pub of the Year (Booker)

Booker Young Chef of the Year (Booker)

Canapé Competition (Portfolio Events)

Community Café of the Year (West Northamptonshire Council Public Health)

Farming Environment Award (Weetabix)

F&B Achiever of the Year (J Sweeney Accountants)

Food and Drink College Student of the Year (University of Northampton)

Healthy Food and Wellbeing Award (Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust)

Local Food Hero of the Year (Howes Percival)

One To Watch (Whitworth Bros. Ltd Flour Millers)

Outstanding Contribution to Food & Drink (All Things Business)

Restaurant of the Year (Greedy Gordons)

Weetabix Sustainability Award (Weetabix)

Whitco Chef of the Year (Whitco Catering & Bakery Equipment Limited)

World Cuisine Restaurant of the Year (British Pepper & Spice Co. Ltd)

The results of the competition, which will again see finalists awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze, will be announced at the Awards celebrations taking place on 17 October 2024 at The Royal & Derngate Theatre, supported again by caterers Portfolio Events.

For more details on all the categories in the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2024/25, including mystery shopping, entry and nomination forms, please visit the Awards’ website – – or call the Awards team on 01933 664437 or email

You can also follow the Awards on Facebook at @foodawards or X and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or LinkedIn at @weetabixnfadawards