8 February 2018
Celebrations were in full flow last night as the Sussex Food & Drink Awards revealed the county’s top food and drink producers for 2018, all hailed as local heroes as they received their winning trophies at the Amex Community Stadium in Brighton.
Hosted by Danny Pike of BBC Sussex and actress Julie Graham, representing the charity Chestnut Tree House, the glittering 12th awards ceremony saw 400 leaders in the food, drink and farming industry gather together for what is dubbed as ‘the Sussex foodie event of the year’, celebrating the cream of Sussex food and drink producers.
Plumpton College were delighted to sponsor the Young Sussex Farmer of the Year category this year, which included the tough job of judging the category and selecting a winner. Head of Faculty David Lamb was proud to present the award to Jack Stilwell for his crowd funded farm.
Jack is a new entrant to agriculture and it has been his mission over recent years to build and create his own farm. As well as following the traditional approach of working and saving hard to grow and develop his business, he used crowdfunding, under the moniker GETJACKFARMING, as well as BBC’s Countryfile coverage to gain capital for his project. When he was 21 he was given two calves to rear; now, at the age of 26, Jack has graduated from Harper Adams University and in 2017 he reared 4000 calves.
David Lamb said:
Jack Stilwell has shown outstanding vision and business acumen to rapidly grow a calf rearing business over the past three years. He used crowd funding and strong marketing activities to get established and now rears a large number of calves in high welfare conditions and has a business model that he intends to extend nationally. A truly inspirational winner among a strong group of finalists.
Over the last 12 years the awards have received over 4,000 nominations and 133,000 public votes promoting hundreds of businesses as Grand Finalists. The awards scheme is run by Natural Partnerships Community Interest Company (CIC), co-directed by Hilary Knight of the Sussex Food & Drink Network and Paula Seager, Managing Director of Natural PR Ltd, with support from a loyal and high ranking group of sponsors and expert judges along with independent chairman of judges, Sussex farmer and Nuffield scholar, William Goodwin.
It’s been a truly fantastic evening. These awards are all about supporting and boosting local farmers, food and drink producers and the outlets which use and sell superb local fare. Starting from small beginnings, the awards have grown to become prestigious and respected, attracting a record 15,000 votes from members of the public this year and huge support from business in the county, bringing together the whole local food and farming community.
Guests were treated to a wonderful ‘Sussex bubbly and ale reception’, sponsored by NFU Mutual Pulborough, with Harveys Ale, Carr Taylor sparkling wine, Wobblegate apple juice and Brighton Gin accompanied by delicious canapés from The Naked Food Company. This was followed by a stunning seven-course banquet created by stadium caterers Sodexo Prestige, using the very best local and seasonal ingredients supplied by Lighthouse Bakery, Real Patisserie, Bookham & Harrison, Southview Farm Dairy, Hoads Farm, Veasey & Sons Fishmongers, Plumpton College, R P Meats (Wholesale), T G Fruits, The Cheese Man, Deerview Fine Foods, Just Brownies, The Raw Chocolate Company, South Downs Water Co Ltd and Edgcumbes Coffee Roasters and Tea Blenders.
Winners and Runners up for 2018 are:
Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op
Winner: Bookham Harrison Farms, Rudgwick, West Sussex
Runners up: Just Brownies, Shipley, West Sussex; Lighthouse Bakery & School, Robertsbridge, East Sussex; The Raw Chocolate Company, Henfield, West Sussex; The Real Pie Company, Crawley, West Sussex
Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Natural PR with support from The Pass at South Lodge Hotel
Winner: Ridgeview Wine Estate, Ditchling Common, East Sussex
Runners up: Brighton Gin, Brighton and Hove and Wobblegate, Bolney, West Sussex
Sussex Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Sodexo Prestige with support from super chef Matt Gillan
Winner: Michael Notman-Watt from 64 Degrees, Brighton and Hove
Runners up: George Boarer from etch., Brighton and Hove and Michael Sutherland, The Star Inn, Alfriston, East Sussex
Young Sussex Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Plumpton College in association with Farmers Weekly
Winner: Jack Stilwell, Forestside, West Sussex
Runners up: Christopher Appleton, Arlington, East Sussex and Luke Spalding, Ridgeview, Ditchling Common, East Sussex
Sussex Butcher of the Year, sponsored by RP Meats Wholesale Ltd
Winner: New Street Butchers & Deli, Horsham, West Sussex
Runners up: Archers of Westfield, Westfield, East Sussex and Garlic Wood Butchery, Steyning, West Sussex
Sussex Farmers Market of the Year, sponsored by Harveys Brewery
Winner: Chichester Farmers Market, West Sussex
Runners up: Shoreham Farmers Market, West Sussex and Steyning Farmers Market, West Sussex
Sussex Eating Experience of the Year, sponsored by Blakes Foods
Winner: The Artisan Bakehouse, Ashurst, West Sussex
Runners up: 64 Degrees, Brighton and Hove and The Parsons Table, Arundel, West Sussex
Sussex Food Shop of the Year, sponsored by Wealden District Council
Winner: The Sussex Produce Company, Steyning, West Sussex
Runners up: Plaw Hatch Farm Shop, Sharpthorne, West Sussex and Rushfields Farm Shop, Poynings, West Sussex
Sussex Street Food of the Year, sponsored by Horsham District Foodies with support from Food Rocks and judging from super chefs Steven Edwards and Ian Swainson
Winner: Garlic Wood Farm, Steyning, West Sussex
Runners up: Jah Jyot, Henfield, West Sussex and The Pig and Jacket, Lewes, East Sussex
Sussex Newcomer of the Year, co-sponsored by Kreston Reeves and Sussex Food and Drink Network
Winner: etch., Brighton and Hove
Runners up: Greyhound Brewery, West Chiltington, West Sussex and The Parsons Table, Arundel, West Sussex
Since the original 400-acre College farm was bought back in 1919, Plumpton College has certainly seen a lot of changes.