City celebrates its host of culinary wonders

Young Chef of the Year Drew Snaith (right) with mentor John Parsons
Young Chef of the Year Drew Snaith (right) with mentor John Parsons

Sheffield’s growing reputation as a culinary destination was celebrated this week as producers, retailers and restaurateurs gathered for the annual Eat Sheffield Awards.

The event, hosted by Hallam University, evolved this year to reflect the increasing breadth and diversity of the area’s independent food sector.

Bryan Unkles of Cafeology receives his award from Dr Kevin Nield

Bryan Unkles of Cafeology receives his award from Dr Kevin Nield

As wine merchant John Mitchell told Monday’s gala dinner: “There’s a huge amount of talent in this room. Eat your heart out, Leeds!”

Key winners of the night included a new award for Sheffield Brand, to reflect the contribution of local food manufacturers.

This went to Moss Valley Fine Meats of Povey Farm, Norton. Set up seven years ago by Stephen and Karen Thompson, the business supplies pork to many of the city’s top restaurants and has won a succession of awards over the last year, including two golds and a silver in the recent BPEX Sausage of the Year competition.

Also new for 2013 was a Sheffield Food Festival Award, celebrating the success of the event which attracted more than 240,000 people over three days – making it Sheffield’s largest annual festival, Hallam University’s Dr Kevin Nield told the audience.

The honour, for outstanding contribution, went to Green Estate, the Manor’s landscape and heritage enterprise, which created the festival’s urban allotment.

Presenting the award, Eat Sheffield’s Niki Baker said: “They were brave enough to take on the challenge and grow our idea into reality. It was an amazing achievement and we hope one they will repeat in future years.”

Other key winners included Bryan Unkles of Cafeology, named Sheffield Food Hero for his contribution to the industry on a local, regional and national level.

Bryan – who supplies ethical coffee to companies from Sheffield College to Scotrail – said: “This award is a big surprise. I’m very proud – it’s fantastic to get recognition as a local business.”

Young Chef of the Year, run in association with the Sheffield Telegraph, went to Drew Snaith of Fancie Supperclub, Ecclesall Road, who battled his way to victory in the awards’ first cook-off final (see full report on page 27).

Drew, aged 20, said: “I’ve known since I was four that I wanted to be a chef – when I started making rock cakes with my grandma. But I owe everything to John Parsons, who took me on and taught me everything from how to be a chef to how not to panic!”

The awards ended with an impromptu standing ovation for Niki Baker, the driving force behind both Eat Sheffield and the city’s Food Festival.