Voting for Taste of Kent Awards 2013 is now open
By kentsussex | Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 11:51
The public voting is now open in Kent's most popular food and drink awards – the Taste of Kent Awards 2013.
Taste of Kent Awards 2012 winners
The Produced in Kent competition is now in its ninth year and is expected to receive more than 10,000 votes via the online voting site on www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk before the public vote closes on Wednesday 2 January 2013.
Local food and drink champions Produced in Kent are behind the Taste of Kent Awards, which recognises the county's 'food and drink heroes' and provides the general public with a unique opportunity to hand pick and vote for their favourite food and drink producers, retailers, restaurants, dining pubs and farmers' markets.
Following the all-important initial consumer vote, the three finalists in each category will go forward to be judged by mystery shoppers and diners and an expert judging panel to find the ultimate 'food and drink heroes'.
Speaking about the 2013 competition, Stephanie Durling of Produced in Kent said: "The awards are seen as a benchmark of food and drink excellence in our county.
"For the outstanding companies that win an award, it is an acknowledgement of their status as the county's 'food and drink heroes' and a stamp of approval from Kent consumers.
"This is the general public's golden opportunity to vote for the food and drink producers with that 'X factor'.
"So no matter who tickles your taste buds, or floats your culinary boat, do make sure you add your votes for your favourite food and drink producers and the most outstanding dining pubs, restaurants and farmers' markets in Kent."
Last year's brand new overall sponsor, Vertex Law, is backing the 2013 event once more together with more than a dozen other companies sponsoring the individual categories.
The Taste of Kent Awards have become a much sought after hallmark of quality, with some of the county's leading companies keen to support and sponsor the wide range of categories.
This year Produced in Kent already welcomes the sponsorship support from Barclays Bank, Biddenden Vineyards, Chapel Down Winery, Hadlow College, Kent Downs and High Weald AONB, KCC (Kent County Council), Archant Kent Life, kff (Kent Frozen Foods), NFU Mutual, Opies, sff (Stephen's Fresh Foods), Wilkins Kennedy, Shepherd Neame and Visit Kent. The Taste of Kent Awards is also delighted to have the media support of BBC Kent, insideKENT and Archant KOS Media.
Due to their popularity the two special awards, first introduced in 2012, will both return in 2013. The Kent Food, Farming & Landscape Award which was won by Ellie's Dairy (in the Small Farm category) and Hole Park Estate (in the Large Farm category) in its debut year, has been made a reality again with the co-sponsorship of the two protected landscapes in the South East – the Kent Downs & High Weald Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Unlike other TOKA categories that receive the public vote, this stand alone award gives farmers the opportunity to enter their farms and businesses directly into the competition on firstname.lastname@example.org (with full competition details also featured on the Taste of Kent website).
Nick Johannsen, director of Kent Downs AONB, said: "This award is designed to recognise and celebrate exemplary practice where farming and food production has made a positive contribution to the landscape. We hope that farmers and food producers from all over the county will apply – it's a simple process and there will be significant recognition for the best of the best."
Meanwhile the Produced in Kent Special Award which is designed to recognise the contribution of an individual or business to the Kent food and drink industry returns for a second year too. Last year, Produced in Kent chose to posthumously honour Michael Barry OBE with the award.
The popular chef and television personality, who co-presented BBC2's Food and Drink and wrote numerous cookery books, was picked for his outstanding contribution to Kentish Fare, the predecessor to Produced in Kent.
The popularity of the new self-nominating awards last year sees them make a welcome return for a second year and will once again give food and drink producers the opportunity to submit their products to an expert judging panel to win either a category in the Kent Food Product award or even be awarded the overall Best Kent Food Product of the Year. Full details and an application form is available on www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk.
In addition to the online voting on www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk, voters can pick up a voting form at your nearest farmers' market and post to Produced in Kent Ltd, Charcott Holm Farmhouse, Tonbridge Road, Hadlow, Kent TN11 0AH.
Final winners will be revealed at a glittering awards dinner next spring on Friday 8 March 2013 at the Merecure Great Danes Hotel, Hollingbourne.