Jade Walter

Not too Late to Enter Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards Young Chef, Chef, Gastro Pub, Community Café, Restaurant & World Cuisine Restaurant Categories

The sixteenth year of the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards are well underway, with entries closing soon for some of the most hotly contested categories; Booker Young Chef of the Year, Whitco Chef of the Year, Booker Gastro Pub of the Year, Community Café, Restaurant and World Cuisine Restaurant of the Year.

Recognising and celebrating excellence in the sector’s brilliant people, places and produce, the competition for these popular categories grows bigger each year, as hospitality professionals from all around the county recognise just how much winning can mean, to even the most established chef, café, pub or restaurant.

Rachel Mallows MBE, Awards Director said “As well as highlighting a commitment to serving and supporting local, we know from talking to past winners that these accolades really set businesses apart as leaders in the Northamptonshire food and drink scene, and help with attracting new customers, which is so important when businesses are battling rising costs and spending pressures”.

The Palmichael, Kettering was a Gold winner in last year’s Restaurant of the Year category. Restaurant Manager Maria Walker commented: “We were delighted to be recognised alongside other outstanding local restaurants in the finals. Then going on to win Restaurant of the Year in 2016, 2018 and again in 2023 was a prestigious moment for us. This amazing accolade is not just an award, it’s a testament to the dedication and hard work of our entire team.

“I would encourage everyone to enter. Being a small local business has its challenges and by raising awareness of independent establishments, the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards have helped many small businesses generate growth and gain the recognition that they deserve.

“The overall experience has been nothing but positive for us in terms of attracting new customers from across Northamptonshire and further afield, connecting with fantastic new local suppliers, and knowing there is a network of mentors who really believe in your business and will help guide you in the right direction.”

Young chefs go from strength to strength when the sector shines a spotlight on their hard work and exceptional talents. Last year’s winner, Jade Walter from Rushton Hall Hotel & Spa, commented:

“Entering the Young Chef competition was a transformative experience for me, offering opportunities for growth, exposure to new culinary techniques, and the chance to showcase my talent on a broader stage.

It wasn’t just about winning, but about pushing boundaries and evolving as a young chef.”

Martin Allen, Executive Chef at Rushton Hall Hotel & Spa added:

“From a business perspective having young chefs enter competitions creates exposure and credibility for both the business they work for, and for the chef themselves, which enhances their professional reputation and opens doors to new opportunities. The experience of this Young Chef of the Year competition has helped Jade confidently innovate dishes, refine her skills, and push for future culinary success.”

The free-to-enter categories in this year’s Awards (with their respective sponsors, and June closing dates) are:

Artisan Local Drink of the Year (Warner’s Distillery)

Artisan Local Product of the Year (Heygates Flour and Animal Feed Millers)

Artisan Local Vegetarian / Vegan Product of the Year (Daily Bread Cooperative)

Booker Gastro Pub of the Year (Booker) – closing 21st June

Booker Young Chef of the Year (Booker) – closing 7th June

Canapé Competition (Portfolio Events)

Community Café of the Year (West Northamptonshire Council Public Health) – closing 21st June

Farming Environment Award (Weetabix)

F&B Achiever of the Year (J Sweeney Accountants)

Food and Drink College Student of the Year (University of Northampton)

Healthy Food and Wellbeing Award (Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust)

Local Food Hero of the Year (Howes Percival)

One To Watch (Whitworth Bros. Ltd Flour Millers)

Outstanding Contribution to Food & Drink (All Things Business)

Restaurant of the Year (Greedy Gordons) – closing 21st June

Weetabix Sustainability Award (Weetabix)

Whitco Chef of the Year (Whitco Catering & Bakery Equipment Limited) – closing 7th June

World Cuisine Restaurant of the Year (British Pepper & Spice Co. Ltd) – closing 21st June


The results of the competition, which will again see finalists awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze, will be announced at the Awards celebrations taking place on 17 October 2024 at The Royal & Derngate Theatre, supported again by caterers Portfolio Events.

For more details on all the categories in the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2024/25, including mystery shopping, entry and nomination forms, please visit the Awards’ website – www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk – or call the Awards team on 01933 664437 or email awards@northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk

You can also follow the Awards on Facebook at @foodawards or X and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or LinkedIn at @weetabixnfadawards