Combe House’s two Master Chefs of Great Britain, Hadleigh Barrett and Stuart Brown, laid on a spectacular afternoon tea, including miniature doughnuts, beautiful macaroons, custard tarts, homemade scones (with Rodda’s cream, no less!) and more. Guests were also treated to champagne and a selection of BloomBerry fruit juices.
Food Magazine editor, Jo Rees, commented: ‘It was a fabulous afternoon and lovely to get the finalists and sponsors together. Now everyone’s very much looking forward to the big awards night on January 26 when the winners will be announced at the funky Fodders restaurant at Yeo Valley HQ in Somerset.’
One of the finalists in attendance, Chris Cleghorn, head chef of the Olive Tree Restaurant at The Queensberry Hotel in Bath, said: ‘It’s a great privilege to be in the Best Hotel category and hopefully it represents what we’re trying to do at The Queensberry.’
While there are some well-known names in the Food Reader Awards finals, the awards also allow smaller businesses to shine. Devon vanilla product company, littlePod, found itself in the Best Foodie Product finals alongside Cornish Sea Salt and Rodda’s clotted cream. Clara Milstead of littlePod thanked the readers for their nominations. She added: ‘We feel honoured to be in the final and to know that people love our vanilla pods as much as we do.’
For some of the finalists, their place in the shortlist came as a surprise as they were unaware that their customers had voted for them.
Ivan Hewitt of Strangers With Coffee said: ‘We’re thrilled to be in the finals for Best Cafe. It was a complete surprise to find out we’d been nominated for the award – the first we knew about it was receiving a call to say that we’d made the final three.’
The Food Reader Awards, now in its fourth year, is voted for exclusively by Food Magazine and Food Insider’s Guide readers.
The awards recognise the best the West Country has to offer, from restaurants and cafes to chefs, pubs and farm shops.
Last year’s winners included Nathan Outlaw for Best Chef, Riverford Field Kitchen in Buckfastleigh, Devon, for Best Restaurant and The Victoria Inn in Perranuthnoe, Cornwall, for Best Pub.
Voting for the awards closes at 11.45pm on January 14, 2015. The winners will be revealed at a glamorous award ceremony on January 26 at Fodder@YVHQ restaurant, which is located in the headquarters of main sponsor Yeo Valley.
To find out who has won live on the night, follow @food_mag on Twitter and use the hashtag #FoodAwards.