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Enduring cookery doyenne scoops prestigious Judges’ Choice trophy at star-studded event



It was a real who’s who in London’s Piccadilly last night as the glitterati of the culinary and bacchanalian worlds gathered for the annual Fortnum & Mason Food & Drink Awards. Now in their second year, the awards celebrate the very best in writing, publishing and broadcasting on food and drink, and have quickly become established as a key event in the food and drink calendar.

Yesterday evening, Michelin starred-chefs, TV cooks, celebrities and expert journalists looked on as Claudia Roden received the special Judges’ Choice award. Made at the panel’s discretion, Claudia was awarded for her relentless work in championing Middle Eastern and Mediterranean culture through food. Widely admired as both a great cook and fine writer, her career spans more than 60 years and she has written an array of award winning books.

The TV Personality of the year award was collected by globe-trotting duo, the Hairy Bikers. Dave Myers and Si King received their award from the TV actor and comedienne, Ronni Ancona. The TV Personality is chosen by the public and this year over 17,000 votes were cast. The rest are chosen by an expert panel chaired by Fortnum’s CEO Ewan Venters. This year’s panel included Valentine Warner, Matthew Fort, Anthony Rose, Jamie Goode, Sheila Dillon and Victoria Moore.

Compered by Claudia Winkleman, awards were given in 12 categories and were shared between venerable industry veterans and newcomers. Each of the winners received a unique Fortnum & Mason trophy, a magnum of vintage Fortnum & Mason Champagne and, of course, one of the brand’s iconic hampers.

Food Book of the Year went to writer and journalist Jo Jo Tulloh for her book The Modern Peasant, a compelling text that explores the emergence of a self-sufficient food culture among city dwellers. Stories of Jo Jo’s visits to food producers are interwoven with simple recipes, each with a modern twist, helping time- poor urbanites to put flavour and excitement back into every day cooking.

Testament to the ever-increasing popularity of cider in the UK, Drink Book of the Year was awarded to World’s Best Cider by Pete Brown & Bill Bradshaw, a fascinating work that showcases the origins of the drink and explores more than 200 brews from around the world.

Commenting on the awards, Ewan Venters said: “Last year’s Awards Programme was a terrific success. We needed to pull out all the stops to make them even better this time around and that’s exactly what we’ve done. More than 400 entries were submitted this year and the standard and breadth of the work received was quite remarkable. Britain has some of the best food and drink in the world and, without doubt, the best journalists and broadcasters publicising it.”

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