THE heat was on as the city celebrated a feast of culinary talent at the fifth annual Eat Sheffield Awards - naming the best places to eat and drink, writes Lesley Draper.
Leading chefs, restaurateurs and food industry stalwarts gathered for the event – which this year attracted a record 10,000 votes.
Top honours for 2012 were shared between established heavyweights and stars of tomorrow.
And there was a standing ovation for legendary brewer Dave Wickett, founder of Kelham Island Brewery, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.
He was honoured with a special Food Hero award for his contribution to the brewing industry and for putting Sheffield on the national real ale map.
The award was collected by his son, Ed, aged 22, who admitted it had been an emotional evening.
“My dad would have been overwhelmed,” he said. “He loved events like this and to get the overall award, he would’ve been in ecstasy.
“For me and my mum, it’s great that he’s still thought of so highly. I grew up in the industry and I’m not going to let it go now – I shall carry on in his name.”
Other key winners included chef Marcus Lane of Rafters restaurant, Nether Green, who was voted Chefs’ Chef 2012.
The award, sponsored by the Sheffield Telegraph, attracted votes from across the city, and Marcus emerged a decisive winner.
He was presented with his award by Telegraph food writer Lesley Draper and also received a chef’s knife from Mick Fox of Ultrasharp.
Marcus – who returned to work in August after four months out of the kitchen through illness – said: “It’s a real honour to have other people in the industry vote for me and appreciate the work I’ve done at Rafters over the last 14 years,” he said.
“It’s easy to get a bit stale after being at a place for so long, but having a break and coming back is like having a new job and I’ve got fresh inspiration.”
Former sous chef Gareth Ducker returned as head chef during Marcus’ absence and has retained the role, working alongside his boss.
The kitchen team has recently been completed with the addition of new chef de partie Tom Baker, formerly of Michelin-starred Fischer’s.
The Telegraph also sponsored the Young Chef of the Year Award, judged by a panel of professionals – who found it impossible to pick a single winner.
Instead, honours were shared between three finalists: Jack Windsor of the Cross Scythes, Totley; Tom Lawson of the Devonshire Arms, Middle Handley; and Adam Harper of The Beauchief, Abbeydale Road South. The three will now work with organisers to further develop the award for next year.
Marcus said: “This award is fantastic for these young chefs – for the confidence it will give them. It’s a credit to Sheffield College in the end, which trains most of these young people. I hope they stay in Sheffield and help to take the city to even greater recognition.”
Other award winners ranged from shops and market stalls to pubs, cafés and restaurants. (See panel.) Head of Eat Sheffield, Niki Baker, said the variety of nominees and the record number of votes case were a measure of the city’s growing reputation as a centre of food excellence.
This year’s awards were compèred by Paulette Edwards of Radio Sheffield and staged at Hallam University, whose business school champions Eat Sheffield.
Assistant Dean Prof Isobel Doole said: “We’re very proud to support the awards. We see them as a force for good in raising the profile of the fabulous variety of interesting and innovative local restaurants and food businesses… all of whom source local ingredients and help to develop local young talent.”
Eat Sheffield was founded five years ago, originally as a brand to promote the city’s restaurants.
Its role has developed over the years to encompass the broader food industry, including producers, manufacturers and retailers in a 20-mile radius of the city centre.
Eat Sheffield Award winners 2012
* Independent Local Food Retailer – Our Cow Molly
* Market Stall / Street Food Trader – Zanders Sweets
* On the Go – Street Food Chef, Pinstone Street
* Traditional Craft Ale Pub – The Broadfield, Abbeydale Road
* Bar Team – Wick at Both Ends, West Street
* Daytime Café – Thelma’s, Sharrow Vale Road
* Speciality / Ethnic Restaurant – La Mama Latin Tapas Bar, Abbeydale Road
* Casual Dining – Spoon Café Bistro, Abbey Lane
* Informal Dining – joint winners: The Wig & Pen, Campo Lane, and Silversmiths, Arundel Street
* Formal Dining – The Beauchief, Abbeydale Road South