Although it was undoubtedly the right thing to do, needless to say, everyone on The Courier team was very disappointed that the Menu Food and Drink Awards 2020 had to be cancelled.
However, just because the awards themselves didn’t take place doesn’t make our category winners’ achievements any the less amazing.
In these four pages we’re celebrating each and every one of our wonderful winners – superb evidence of the abundant passion, talent and overwhelming commitment to producing top quality food and drink across Courier Country.
Independent Coffee Shop of the Year
Winner: Wee Bear Café
Our winner of the Independent Coffee Shop of the Year is the Wee Bear Cafe near Kirriemuir. Gareth Finn, who runs the cafe with wife Anne, said: “Obviously it’s tempered by the fact the awards had to be cancelled but we are still absolutely delighted.
“We’ve worked very hard over the last few years to create a community-style cafe and it’s really nice that people think we’re deserving of the award.”
Highly commended: The Whistle Stop
Street Vendor of the Year
Chiara Di-Ponio Horne of Mezzaluna mobile street van, which sells authentic Italian dishes, couldn’t believe the news that they had won the Street Vendor of the Year Award.
“I totally didn’t expect that!” she smiled. “Obviously it’s so lovely to be recognised but I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of my family so a big thank you to them.”
Craft Beer/Cider of the Year
Winner: Lost Orchards Cider
Lost Orchards Cider was the recipient of the Craft Beer/Cider of the Year award, something co-founder Andrew Husband is thrilled about: “We are absolutely delighted to win this award and incredibly proud of our team and the growers who have put so much work and effort into creating our premium ciders with provenance, sustainability and of course taste at our core.’
Producer of the Year
Winner: Summer Harvest Oils
Summer Harvest Oils won the coveted Producer of the Year Award. Owner Mark Bush initially said he was “speechless” when he heard the news but luckily managed to say a few more words. “I’m very, very proud of what my wife Maggie and I have done and to be acknowledged against such strong competition shows the strength of what Scotland is doing at the moment,” he said.
“Congratulations to everyone on the shortlist – it was a tough category.”
Newcomer of the Year
Winner: Kinneuchar Inn.
Highly commended: Crafty Maltsters
Restaurant of the Year
Winner: Kinneuchar Inn
The Kinneuchar Inn is tucked away in the picturesque Fife village of Kilconquar. Owned by Alethea Palmer and James Ferguson, it has scooped not one but two awards: Newcomer of the Year and Restaurant of the Year.
“I’d like to thank all the team for all the hard work that makes a restaurant,” he said.
“We’re happy that people in the area have taken to this style of food – it’s true cooking from the heart.
“The long hours have been worth it: we’re pleased and honoured – and shocked! – to have won both awards.”
Highly commended: Little’s
Craft Distiller of the Year
Winner: Darnley’s Gin
Craft Distiller Darnley’s Gin won the Craft Distiller of the Year award and brand manager Emma Hooper said: “We are delighted to have won the Craft Distiller of the Year award in The Courier’s Food and Drink Awards 2020.
“It’s been a great year so far for Darnley’s Gin winning some awards for our gin in international competitions and it’s amazing for the whole team at our Distillery and Gin School at Kingsbarns in Fife to have something else to toast!”
Food/Drink Destination of the Year
The Food/Drink Destination of the Year award was one of our exciting new categories and Bowhouse on Balcaskie Estate. Toby Anstruther is delighted and proud to have been recognised at the Menu Awards. “When we opened the doors to our first Market Weekend back in 2017, we had no idea how many people would come along,” he said.
“Since that time, we’ve welcomed more than a 100,000 people from across the country.
“Bowhouse has grown as a venue for markets but is more than that; we have a growing community of producers based here – all working together to transform the local food and farming system delivering the best food to our community and beyond,” he continues.
“This award is testament to the hard work of these producers and to Rosie Jack and her team at Bowhouse, who are increasingly leading the conversation on local food and drink in Scotland.”
Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner: Praveen Kumar
Entrepreneur of the Year is Praveen Kumar for his business Authentic Indian Cuisine. “It’s just amazing to be recognised in a market place of such growth in the industry,” Praveen beamed.
“It’s a great achievement for the team, and my wife who keep me right all the time!”
Pub of the Year
Winner: The Kirkstyle Inn
Our Pub of the Year award went to The Kirkstyle Inn in the Perthshire village of Dunning. Owner Jamie Harrison said: “I think this is one of the most important awards we could win for the local area.
“It’s a great honour because there are so many people doing great things in our industry.
“We’re so proud of our staff and our customers.”
Chef of the Year
Winner: Martin Hollis
Martin Hollis, executive chef of The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, has won the Chef of the Year Award. Martin, a regular columnist in The Courier’s Menu supplement has cooked the main courses at the Menu Awards the past two years.
He said: “It is amazing to be recognised at The Menu Awards, by my peers across the region. Fife is one of best places in the country to work in food and drink, from the larder on our doorstep to the innovative people behind the scenes. I will continue to champion careers within the industry and of course, the terrific ingredients that are produced in Fife.”
Highly commended: Lorna McNee, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie
Cocktail & Wine Bar of the Year
Draffens in Dundee was the deserving winner of the Cocktail & Wine Bar of the Year Award and AJ McMenemy, area manager for Macmerry 300 Ltd, commented: “It’s a pleasure to receive this award. It’s encouraging to know our dedication to the perfect experience is recognised.
“Given how heavily immersed we are in the development of our city’s scene we’re truly humbled to carry this accolade at Draffens.”
Highly commended: The Wine Press
Judges’ Choice: Brand Ambassador of the Year
The accolade of Judges’ Choice: Brand Ambassador of the Year goes to Fiona Pollock of Ardross Farm Shop in Fife.
Fiona was chosen for her commitment to making Ardross Farm Stall a quality enterprise from start to finish, along with her generosity to the wider food and drink community and the greater community in general. She’s a much-loved personality with so much generosity for others.
Fiona said: “As the awards were cancelled, it was my daughter who told me I had won.
“I thought she was joking at first. I am just overwhelmed to have even been considered for this award. What an accolade, I really can’t believe it.”
Congratulations and thanks
All that’s left to say is congratulations to all our fantastic winners, and, of course, our Highly Commended finalists including Lorna McNee of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie; The Wine Press; The Whistle Stop; and Crafty Maltsters.
Thanks must go to our headline sponsors SteamPunk Shopfitters and Fit Out Specialists. Darren Wilson, managing director of SteamPunk, said: “SteamPunk were ecstatic to have supported The Menu Food and Drink Menu Awards 2020.
“The talent, enthusiasm and entrepreneurship on exhibition was fantastic. Everyone should be very proud about their nominations and award wins.
“We are proud to have worked in partnership with DC Thomson and The Courier.”
And thanks too to our wonderful chefs and generous sponsors.
Helen McBride, general manager at the Old Course Hotel, said: “It was an honour to sponsor the Visitor Attraction category at this year’s Menu Awards. We have always championed tourism across the region and it really is inspiring to see so many visitor attractions that promote Scotland as a food and drink destination to the world. The awards are a chance for food producers, makers and hospitality businesses to celebrate the very best talent in Scotland. “
Emma Hooper of Darnley’s Gin said: “As a gin company based in the East Neuk of Fife, Darnley’s Gin is proud to play a part in the fantastic food and drink landscape of the area and the opportunity to sponsor the Cocktail and Wine Bar of the Year was a perfect fit. A huge congratulations to Draffens who took home the award. It is so well deserved.”
A spokesman for Tay Cities and Food from Fife said: “The Menu awards are a great opportunity to celebrate and showcase the best of the food and drink business based within the Tayside and Fife City region. It’s great to see local producers receiving recognition for their passion and commitment to using locally sourced ingredients to produce world class quality products.”
Scott McCallum of Avian said: “Avian is proud to work with several of the leading food and drink producers and providers in Scotland. It is fantastic to see such a vibrant, eclectic mix of local companies and businesses in this sector. Congratulations to all the winners!”
Christian Nissen, managing director of Highland Game said: “As Scotland’s leading game supplier, we were delighted to sponsor the Menu Food & Drinks Awards for a third year in succession. The awards are the benchmark of quality food and drink excellence across the areas of Dundee, Perthshire, Fife and Angus.”