Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards 2011-2012 - Winners Revealed

PUBLISHED: 18:46 01 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:12 20 February 2013

Singer, Wayne Farrow with Donna Kelsall.

Singer, Wayne Farrow with Donna Kelsall.

All the photos and videos from the big night

Weve all done it. The phone rings late at night, your heart jumps into your mouth and you think the worst. But for 19-year-old Elliott Dowson a late wake-up call delivered fantastic news. His excited parents Eric and Amanda were on the other end of the line giving their eldest son the news that their family business, Mrs Dowsons Real Dairy Ice Cream, had been named Lancashire Food Hero at the Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards.

Eric said: We had to call him and let him know but he was asleep in bed. I dont think he knew what was going on but he did have a joke with us. This is a real family business and Elliott being the eldest has had a real involvement in helping us.

We have won other awards but this is a real, honest one judged by local people and this is very important to us. This is the award that matters and to get this from Lancashire Life is absolutely incredible; its difficult to know what to say but we are absolutely over the moon.

Elliott, along with siblings Ethan, 17 and Amelia, 10, have all been involved in the business since Amanda and Eric set it up in 2002 including the hard task of eating lots of ice cream. They were looking for a way to diversify following the Foot and Mouth epidemic that devastated so many farming communities. It was Eric and the childrens obsession with ice cream that first got them started.

Today they use the milk from their farm to create their own ice cream using local ingredients as well as run a successful tourist attraction where children can see animals up close.

Amanda said: It has been a lot of hard work for us but we have enjoyed every second. Taking that decision to diversify in the first place was a very difficult one but it has turned out to be a good one.

I only started making it because Eric and the children loved it so much. This award makes me feel so proud of our family. Were absolutely thrilled and will definitely be doing something special to celebrate.

The Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards is an evening that reveals the countys shining stars and celebrates the finest hotels, dining pubs, restaurants, food producers and chefs. The celebrations could be heard around Manchesters Midland Hotel at the prestigious annual event, a staple of the north wests culinary calendar. Around 300 people filled the Alexandra Suite for the gala evening as Granada Reports presenter, Lucy Meacock, and Cheshire Life food and drink writer, Ray King handed out the awards.

The winners were chosen by a panel of independent judges comprising Lancashire Life editor Roger Borrell, Cheshire Life editor Louise Taylor, highly regarded food consultant Rosemary Watts, Trevor Stone, who headed the AstraZeneca catering operation, Ray King and Lancashire Lifes cookery editor Philippa James, who also runs a successful cookery school.

It was quite an evening for chef Andrew Nutter and his parents Rodney and Jean who first launched Nutters restaurant together in Rochdale 19 years ago. Andrew, now a celebrity chef, has worked at Londons Savoy Hotel as a teenager with reputed chef Anton Edelmann as well as working in Michelin starred establishments across France. But he said it was being awarded the Lancashire Chef of the Year award at the Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards 18 years that really launched his career.

I remember turning up and having the word Nutter but into my hair at the back, said Andrew, who chose to have his name written on the back of his shirt for this years event. My name got announced as the Lancashire Chef and it was fantastic. After that, everything went crazy and it really took off for me.

Getting another award from Lancashire Life is just magic. Its superb. Its been quite a year. It was my 40th birthday recently and my dad had his 70th. This really is the icing on the cake. I know I have this award but I couldnt have done it without my parents. My dad is there all of the time, working really hard. There should be a separate award for him, he is just fantastic.

It was also a proud moment for the team from Freemasons at Wiswell who took home the Lancashire Dining Pub of the Year award.

Archie Dickson, head chef, said: We recently missed out on a Michelin star and it was a difficult thing to hear but this absolutely makes up for it. There is nothing better than winning an award like this that really matters to the local area.

It is the recognition that we really wanted and we are so pleased to have won. We cant wait to all celebrate as a team now.

Other winners included the Rampsbeck Country House Hotel at Ullswater, The Millstone at Mellor, Liverpool restaurant, Host and Room in Manchester. For the team at The Plough Inn and Restaurant at Lupton, being named Lake District Dining Pub of the Year was recognition of a first years hard work.

Richard Rose, who co-owns the restaurant and hotel along with reputed establishment The Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite, said: We didnt expect this at all, were absolutely thrilled. This is our first award at The Plough and it will have pride of place.

We have had a lot of hard work in this first year and to have the recognition of that is absolutely fantastic. Weve extremely pleased and cannot believe it.

But the main title of the evening was reserved for Michael Caines, who achievements were recognised with the North West Chef of the Year accolade, collected by Christophe Hesbert, general manger for Abode Chester and Abode Manchester.

He said: Michael has a great passion for food in the north west. He is very proud of this achievement. I think everyone involved is very proud of his achievement.

All of the winners were presented with the coveted Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards plaques to display as well as celebratory champagne. But no one left empty handed as all those shortlisted also took home commemorative plates.

A raffle, with prizes including a holiday to Portugal and the opportunity to win your weight in Robinsons beer, also raised more than 3,000 for the Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital which provides treatment, care and research to help children across the north west and beyond.

Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards 2011-2012

Lancashire Life Dining Pub of the Year
Freemasons, Wiswell
Sponsored by Villeroy and Boch

Highly commended: Elephant and Castle, Bamford, The Redwell Inn, Arkholme, near Carnforth

Lake District Dining Pub of the Year
The Plough at Lupton
Sponsored by Sugar Daddy

Highly commended: Red Lion, Hawkshead, George and Dragon, Clifton

Lancashire Life Hotel of the Year

The Millstone, Mellor
Sponsored by Vale Do Lobo

Highly commended: The Royal Hotel, Kirkby Lonsdale, The Grand Hotel, St Annes

Liverpool Restaurant of the Year

Host, Liverpool
Sponsored by H Greaves and Son

Highly commended: Piccolino, Filini Bar and Restaurant

Lake District Hotel of the Year

The Rampsbeck Country House Hotel, Ullswater
Sponsored by Neve Fleetwood

Highly commended: Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite, Fayrer Garden House Hotel, Bowness

Lancashire Life Food Hero

Mrs Dowsons Ice Cream
Sponsored by Robinsons Brewery

Manchester Restaurant of the Year

Room, Manchester
Sponsored by So Beautiful

Highly commended: Northern Quarter Restaurant, Australasia

Lancashire Life Restaurant of the Year
Nutters, Rochdale
Sponsored by Doug Brady Hi Fi

Highly commended: Angels, Ribchester, Gastro Bar & Grill, Birkdale

North West Farmers Market of the Year
Wirral Farmers Market
Sponsored by Taste Northwest

North West Chef of the Year

Michael Caines
Sponsored by Robinsons Brewery

For more details on the nominations and sponsors click on the categories above

View the Cheshire Life Winners here

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