The reputable Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards 2017 took place on Monday evening hosted by Restaurant Magazine at the Hurlingham Club, a very suitable venue for such an auspicious event. Fortunately for me, working at a leading foodservice marketing agency an invitation had kindly been extended to both myself and PR Director Sam Rooke.
On arrival Sam and I were greeted by an array of pop-up street food stands promoting various popular dishes – fish & chips, duck wraps, pizza and pulled pork baps to name a few. Of course, an event attended by the top chefs and restaurateurs in the UK would not offer just any ordinary fayre. We devoured Norwegian cod & chips prepared by the award winning Kingfisher Fish & Chips using fish supplied by Seafood from Norway, followed by duck wraps from The Duck Truck and lastly managed stone baked pizzas by Baz & Fred. Unfortunately, the queue was so long for the 12 hour smoked pulled pork buns & 14 hour smoked beef brisket supplied by Dingley Dell Pork that we gave it a miss – but it smelt amazing.
Situated further along the beautiful grounds of The Hurlingham Club were many other stands offering wonderful treats such as cheese & charcuteries from Harvey & Brockless, scallop rolls, and for the more adventurous, jalapeno octopus plancton from Ritterfresh, all washed down with the headline sponsor’s Estrella Damm beer, as well as partner’s Schweppes and Lavazza’s cocktails, Aspall cyders and champagne Devaux from Liberty Wines. Of course for those of us driving or others needing a break from alcohol thankfully there was water supplied by Hildon.
Once appetites had been satiated and after conversation aplenty, the time had come to announce the award winners. We were all shown into a cinema-style room with a dramatic setting where Stefan Chomka, Editor of Restaurant Magazine, welcomed the audience and began the countdown to the top 100 places to eat in the UK, voted by the Restaurant Magazine’s academy of professional palates including some 180 top chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, critics and other food connoisseurs.
I was delighted to be sat next to two of the restaurants that came 64 & 63, namely the Blacklock, Soho and Black Axe Mangal, Islington, and I revelled in their enthusiasm when winners were announced. Throughout the evening it was clear how much everyone was respected for their achievements, passion and hard graft, it was evident this was a tight knit community and I felt very fortunate to meet some of the best chefs around when they were relaxed and letting their hair down (and we all know they like to let their hair down).
It was a thrill to see Elizabeth Haigh win the ‘Chef to Watch’ sponsored by Harvey & Brockless. Shaun Hill receive a standing ovation when he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Lavazza, and Jason Atherton graciously accept his award for Restaurateur of the Year. The finale was The Sportsman in Kent retaining their position as the National Restaurant of the Year. For details on all the awards and their winners, visit http://bit.ly/2rmtxKR
A big thanks to the team at Restaurant Magazine for their fantastic hospitality and hosting such a wonderful event, and of course congratulations to all the nominees and winners, I am sure that the celebrations continued into the early hours.