Taste of Excellence – Food & Drink Awards 2015

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The Oaklands Hall Hotel, Laceby was the venue for the 18th Lincolnshire Life ‘Taste of Excellence’ Food and Drink Awards 2015.

Two hundred guests, from across the county, came together to enjoy a superb four-course meal, prepared by the Lincolnshire Chef, Steve Bennett and his talented team.

This was the culmination of our five-month-long quest to find the champions of food, drink and hospitality in the county for 2015.

‘Taste of Excellence’ is an annual competition which seeks nominations from our readers, the public and customers of food and hospitality businesses in Lincolnshire to compile a shortlist of their favourite tipples, nibbles, eateries, hotels, pubs, cafes and accommodation.

Our judges then anonymously visit the top three businesses in each category to judge these finalists and ultimately crown a winner.

The compere for the evening was Dominic Franks who readers of Lincolnshire Life will know from his monthly ‘Belleau Kitchen’ recipes which appear in the magazine.

Other guests included Lincolnshire celebrity chef Rachel Green as well as guest speaker Nicky Barr, director of the International Bomber Command Centre, Canwick Hill, Lincoln.

A raffle which was held during the evening raised over £1,100 for the IBCC. Lincolnshire Life would like to thank all our guests, sponsors and supporters who made the competition, the Awards Evening and the raffle such an outstanding success.

Further entertainment was provided by vocalist, James Harvey and following the awards there was dancing to Power Play discotheque.

Steve Bennett’s menu used some of the finest ingredients produced in our bountiful county.

On arrival guests enjoyed canapes and a glass of Champagne served with a glass of Belvoir Elderflower Cordial.

The locally sourced, seasonal canapés included Celeriac and Parmesan Mousse with Onion Jelly, Pickled Wild Mushroom and Crispy Shallot, Buttermilk Squash and Feta Panna Cotta, Oyster Panna Cotta with Fresh Lime, Mackerel Tartare and Caviar, Soft Shell Crab with Stem Ginger Mayonnaise, Spring Onion and Beef Tomatoes, Smoked and Cured Venison with Spiced Blueberries and Home and Gram Mustard Ham Hock Terrine with Brioche Crisp and Garden Sage.

Alfred Enderby Smoked Salmon
Crayfish, Pickled Cucumber, Brown Shrimp Mayonnaise and Caper Dust
or Honey Roast Parsnip Velouté,
Lincolnshire Poacher filled Choux Buns, Parsnip Chips and Lincolnshire Rapeseed Oil.

Duo of Lincolnshire Red
Pressed Brisket of Beef, Fillet of Beef, Fondant Potato and Butternut Squash Purée or Mushroom Risotto
Goatwood Dairy Goats Cheese, Roasted Chestnuts, Beetroot Purée and Scrubby’s Beetroot Crisps.

Textures of Lincolnshire Apples and Pears.

A selection of Lincolnshire Cheeses served with Moden’s Plum Bread and a selection of biscuits, frozen grapes and The Lincolnshire Chef’s Grandma’s Chutney. Lincolnshire Poacher, Goatwood Camembert, Cote Hill Blue, Dambuster.

A choice of Stokes Freshly Ground Coffee and Stokes Freshly Brewed Tea.

Sponsored by Best Western Oaklands Hall Hotel

Head Chef Steve Bennett said: “It’s important that the industry promotes personal development for young and upcoming chefs, as well as the aspiration of young people wanting to step into this exciting trade. Young chefs need to grasp opportunities such as these awards as they’re a great way to showcase their passion and skills for their work in the professional kitchen. There’s currently a huge national shortage of chefs and it’s so important for us to try and inspire young people to step into such an exciting and rewarding trade. As a chef for over twenty years, I’m a huge ambassador of supporting young chefs stepping into the trade and giving opportunities and transferring skills where possible.”

WINNER – Tom Kerridge, Grimsby Institute
FINALIST – Brandon Moody, Grantham College

Sponsored by House of Townend

For four generations they have built direct relationships with some of the finest wine producers in the world. Their buying emphasis lies firmly with the smaller, quality led, and often family owned, wine estates and domaines who possess like-minded philosophies. Whilst the traditional wine producer is an important part of their portfolio, they work hard at being at the cutting edge of the wine world, seeking out the new star performers, ensuring they get into the supply chain before they become renowned and obtaining supplies becomes impossible.

WINNER – Reform at the Castle Hotel, Lincoln
FINALISTS – The Comfy Duck at Oaklands Hall Hotel, Laceby; The Black Swan, Beckingham

Lakeside Restaurant, Branston Hall Hotel, Branston
The Bronze Pig, Lincoln
Burton Road Fish & Chip Shop, Lincoln
The Carre Arms, Sleaford
The Hare & Hounds, Hacconby
The Inn on the Green, Ingham
The Livesey Arms, Ludborough
Magpies, Horncastle
Melrose Café, Woodhall Spa
Montebello Ristorante, Horncastle
Olé Olé Tapas Bar, Lincoln
Spice of Life, Grimsby
Tea House in the Woods, Woodhall Spa
Village Limits Country Pub & Motel, Woodhall Spa
Windmill Restaurant, Burgh Le Marsh


WINNER – The Bluebell Inn, Belchford
FINALISTS – The Queen’s Head Inn, Kirkby La Thorpe; The Sebastopol Inn, Minting

Abbey Lodge, Woodhall Spa
The Blue Bell Inn & Restaurant, Tattershall Thorpe
The Brown Cow, Louth
The Chequers, Weston
Five Bells, Bassingham
The Hare and Hounds, Fulbeck
The George & Dragon, Hagworthingham
Horse & Groom, Lincoln
Jenny Wren Inn, Susworth
The Pyewipe Inn, Lincoln
Three Kings Inn, Threekingham
Tyrwhitt Arms, Fiskerton
The White Hart, Tetford
The White Horse, Baston
Ye Olde Red Lion, Bicker

Sponsored by Heart of Gold

Lovingly made on a farm where people care about tradition and craft, and where they love to keep your food miles low. Only oilseed rape that’s grown in the beautiful Vale of Belvoir is allowed into Heart of Gold oil.

“Our fields are less than a mile from the pressing room. The seeds are cold pressed with care and attention and filtered for extra purity, giving our oil a fresh, wholesome taste you’ll adore. It’s a simple, age-old process that ensures you can enjoy 100% natural, beautiful golden oil.”

WINNER – Bunty’s Tea Room, Lincoln
FINALISTS – Sylv’s, Heckington; The Old Pottery, Wrangle

Albion Tea Shop, Market Rasen
Alford Windmill Tearoom, Alford
The Angel Coffee House, Lincoln
Belton Garden Centre, Grantham
Blanchards Coffee Shop, Sleaford
Blyton Dairy Ice Cream, Blyton
Cogglesford Mill Cottage Tearoom, Sleaford
Doddington Hall Cafe, Doddington
Larders Coffee House, Louth
Pennells Garden Centre, South Hykeham
Stokes High Bridge Café, Lincoln
The Pantry, Corby Glen
Tina’s Café, Louth
Wild at Heart, Bourne
Wold View Tearoom, Nr Tealby

Sponsored by Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express, Lincoln manager, Darren Spencer-Phillips said: “We are excited to be part of the Taste of Excellence Awards. When we chose our category, we wanted to go for something that would promote some of the smaller county businesses with their products. There are lots of artisan food and drink makers in Lincolnshire and we are looking forward to seeing what it is out there.”

WINNER – The Dip Society, Wold Newton
FINALIST – Batemans Brewery, Wainfleet; Percy’s Iced Vodka Tea, Boston


WINNER – Boston Sausage, East Heckington
FINALISTS – Ingoldmells Holidays, Ingoldmells; Woodhall Spa Manor, Woodhall Spa


WINNER – Manor Farm Shop, Swineshead
FINALISTS – Abbey Parks, East Heckington; Minting Park Farm, Gautby

Braders Fruit Farm, Louth
Doddington Hall Farm Shop
Farmer Browns, Huttoft
The Ivy’s Farm Shop, Swineshead
Johnsons Fine Foods, Boston
Poplar Farm Shop, Sutton on Sea
Oslinc, Moorby
Pinchin’s Farm Shop, Algarkirk
The Pink Pig, Scunthorpe
Redhill Farm, Morton
Spalding Farm Shop, Spalding
Sunnyside Up Farm Shop & Restaurant, Market Rasen
Syston Park Farm Shop and Cafe, Belton
Uncle Henry’s, Grayingham
Wimberley Hall Farm Shop, Weston


WINNER – Elms Farm Cottages, Hubberts Bridge
FINALISTS – White Hart Hotel, Lincoln; Caxton House, Skegness

Best Western White Hart Hotel, Boston
Branston Hall Hotel, Branston
The Castle Hotel, Lincoln
The Deeping Stage, Market Deeping
Doddington Cottages, Doddington Hall and Gardens
Dower House, Woodhall Spa
Fulbeck Gardens Cottage, Fulbeck
Holiday Inn, Lincoln
Oaklands Hall Hotel, Laceby
The Old Palace, Lincoln
The Old Vicarage, Nettleham
The Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa
The Pyewipe Inn Lodge, Lincoln
Village Limits, Woodhall Spa
Washingborough Hall Hotel, Washingborough

Sponsored by Lindsey James at The Oak

With over twenty years in her store at The Oak in Heckington, Lindsey James owner Jan Palmer has plenty of experience finding the right outfit for any occasion. “I have always been interested in design,” Jan explained, “and my first priority was always to find fashion which would really suit my customers. I consider fashion to be an investment for your wardrobe and I have always bought with quality, originality and occasion in mind.” With over twenty-five different collections, plus a dedicated hat section, Lindsey James can help with your full outfit.

WINNER – Washingborough Hall Hotel, Washingborough
FINALISTS – Stoke Rochford Hall, Stoke Rochford; Hemswell Court, Hemswell

Malcolm Waller of Washingborough Hall Hotel

The team at Lincolnshire Life are delighted that businesses have started to adopt the Awards as a way of rewarding and acknowledging the hard work of their staff. We had chance to celebrate outstanding and long service by a member of the team from Washingborough Hall Hotel. We invited Malcolm Waller on stage to receive a Long Service Award for the thirty-seven years he has worked at the hotel and also presented him with a selection of malt whiskies on behalf of owners Edward and Lucy Herring. Edward said: “Malcolm continues to work five half-days a week for us (aged 75) and has provided us with invaluable support and knowledge over our seven years of ownership, for which we are eternally grateful.”

Sponsored by Freshtime

Managing director Mark Newton said: “The Freshtime team is delighted to be involved in the event and help raise the profile of the Lincolnshire food and drink industry.

“The reason we chose to support the Chef of the Year category is because it is more in keeping with our values,” explains Mark.

“We have our own in house chefs here, who do an awful lot of work to create new recipes, and we just felt this award fitted well with our own ethos.”

RAF College Cranwell was the venue for the 2015 Chef of the Year competition. Under The Colours in the main dining room our five judges sampled a three-course menu from five Lincolnshire chefs. The RAF’s own caterers helped serve the dishes, and Commandant Air Commodore Chris Luck was on the panel to judge the offerings.

ISS are the contractors at numerous RAF stations and Army barracks across the UK, providing all catering, retail and leisure facilities at each station. This includes chefs, clerks and stewards in the Officers’, Sergeants’ and Junior Ranks kitchens, retail and bar staff in the various SPAR shops, Starbucks and Costa Coffee facilities on site, as well as cleaning staff and general catering administration. The ISS Defence team are proud to be working alongside the military, serving all personnel, friends and families at each site.

WINNER – Rosie Dicker, The Livesey Arms
FINALISTS – Adrian Roj, ISS Defence RAF College Cranwell; Nick Reed, The Sebastopol Inn; Marc Harvey, The Comfy Duck at Oaklands Hall Hotel; John Clark, The Queens Head Inn & Restaurant

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VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE IN THE CATEGORY BEST RISING STAR OF THE YEAR! We need your nominations – Celebrating Lincolnshire’s food, drink and hospitality businesses in our Taste of Excellence Food and Drink Awards 2024. Click here to vote bit.ly/tasteawards2024Closing date for nominations 31st August 2024. ... See MoreSee Less