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Public Voting Is Open!

Taste of Kent Awards 2021 Launches

Today marks the opening of the Taste of Kent Awards 2021 public voting. Produced in Kent’s flagship event celebrates the best in food and drink that Kent has to offer during an exclusive awards ceremony which, situation permitting, is planned to take place late spring/early summer this year.

The 2020 Taste of Kent Awards (TOKA) was possibly the last major event held in the county before the first lockdown took effect. Since then, the local independent food and drink industry has gone above and beyond in its response to these unprecedented times.  We wish to formally recognise all the hard work, dedication and professionalism during the Covid-19 pandemic in our 2021 Taste of Kent Awards, whilst not deviating too far from our usual concept. TOKA is ultimately about recognising outstanding food and drink and promoting amazing businesses.

The 2021 edition of TOKA:

  • Is receiving fantastic support from sponsors Southern Co-op, NFU Mutual and Southeastern.
  • Maintains most of the awards’ traditional categories, with some slight adaptations to fit the event format.
  • Dedicates the Pink Community Award to initiatives undertaken in response to Covid-19.

Ahead of the awards ceremony in May, Produced in Kent is organising a judging event with Macknade at their Elwick Place outlet in Ashford on Tuesday the 23rd of March 2021. In line with social distancing regulations in place at that time, a judging panel made up of food experts and sponsors will choose the winners from the 3 finalists in each awards category.

The public can now go online at www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk to nominate and vote for the local food and drink heroes and products they would like to see recognised. The public has until midnight 28 February 2021 to cast its vote and in doing so will be helping local businesses to receive the support and recognition they deserve.

The voting process has never been easier: simply click on the category that you would like to vote in and cast your vote. If you cannot see the name of the business you would like to support, simply add them in and vote. The sooner you add them to the list, the more people will see them as well, so voting early is important. This is a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to our very hard-working food and drink producers, retailers, restaurants, pubs, cafes and bistros in the county.

Hundreds of businesses make it into the voting list each year, with the most popular in each category making it through to the final round of tasting, mystery shopping, mystery dining and expert judging panels.

The winners will be announced at the Taste of Kent Awards Gala dinner which, situation permitting, takes place across different locations across Kent late spring/early summer this year.

Floortje Hoette, CE Produced in Kent: “Last year has shown that our Kent food and drink industry does not just grow, produce, sell and serve the highest quality food, but that the businesses themselves are highly resilient, versatile, eager to be sustainable and incredibly community-focused. The local independent food and drink sector kept Kent fed and watered, reached out to the vulnerable and worked incredibly hard in the most challenging trading environment since the second World War. 2021 will throw new challenges our way, but I am confident that the sector will pull through and be a driving force for innovation and a green recovery in the County.’

“We are delighted to receive support from four fantastic sponsors this year: Southern Co-op, NFU Mutual and Southeastern. Thanks to their generous contribution, we are able to organise a hybrid event which will be quirky and different, but still comply with social distancing regulations. We would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Shepherd Neame and Hush Heath for helping us to secure the four venue locations for the awards ceremony this year.

Quote Matt Elliott, Southern Co-op’s Retail Buying & Services Manager: “As an independent co-operative, we’re lucky to be able to work with some of the best producers in the south of England to showcase their food and drink in our retail stores.

“We already have some amazing Kent products in our Local Flavours range and we’re looking forward to seeing what other wonderful food and drink the county has to offer. It is our first time sponsoring these awards and we are proud to be supporting businesses that create incredible flavours right here on our doorstep.”

Quote Nikki Causer, Head of Marketing Southeastern: “As the railway that serves the Garden of England we’ve seen fantastic growth among independent, local businesses and so we’re proud to be a sponsor of this year’s Taste of Kent Awards.

Our passengers travel to Kent to enjoy a wonderful range of diverse products, grown and made in our county, and these awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the very best that the region has to offer”.

Quote Darren Smith, Agent of the NFU Mutual Ashford, Tenterden and Ashford Agency: “With over a century of experience in protecting the needs of farmers and countryside people, we at NFU Mutual are particularly proud to continue in our support by sponsoring the Taste of Kent Awards.

We’ve got great deal of fantastically innovative manufacturers growing and developing outstanding quality produce across the region, many of which are making huge strides by diversifying into new and exciting areas, and this award will help to showcase their hard work.”

Quote Stefano Cuomo, Managing Director of Macknade: ‘Produced in Kent is at the very heart of Macknade. Our aim is to bring our community ever closer to the artisans who produce all the incredible food and drink throughout our wonderful county and Produced in Kent are here to help us facilitate this. Being asked to host the Taste of Kent judging event allows us to show our deep support and respect for all of these incredible producers. It is an absolute honour. Nowhere has produce like Kent and the Taste of Kent Awards shouts this loud and proud!!’

This year’s categories open for public voting, are as follows:

Kent Ambient Product of the Year

Product using ingredients which have been predominantly grown and/or produced in Kent, produced at a business based in Kent.

Kent Bakery or Confectionery Product of the Year

A bakery, confectionery or snack, produced at a business based in Kent including ingredients grown in Kent.

Kent Beer of the year

Beer produced predominantly from hops grown in Kent at a brewery based in Kent.

Kent Cider of the Year

Cider or Perry made from apples or pears predominantly grown in Kent at a business based in Kent.

Kent Dairy Product of the Year

A dairy product produced in Kent made predominantly from Kent ingredients.

Kent Food Retailer of the Year

The local, independent retailer must sell a wide range of Kent produce/products.  They will be required to provide details of the suppliers and product range for judging.

Kent Hospitality Business of the Year

A coffee shop, tea room, pub, restaurant or similar that is actively using Kent produce where and when seasonally available and demonstrate this commitment in menus and marketing.

Kent Non-alcoholic Drink of the Year

A non-alcoholic drink produced by a business based in Kent. including ingredients grown in Kent or ingredients that have undergone a value-added process in Kent.

Kent Prepared Food of the Year

Prepared food made predominantly from produce and/or ingredients grown or produced in Kent, produced at a business based in Kent

Kent Spirit of the Year

A spirit produced at a business based in Kent including ingredients grown in Kent.

Kent Wine of the Year

Wine produced by a Kent based winery / vineyard from grapes grown in Kent, Sussex, Essex or Surrey.

The self-nominated award categories, not open for public voting, this year are:

Kent Food or Drink Business of the Year

A business based in Kent, that makes a range of food product(s) using ingredients sourced from Kent where possible, which are available at multiple outlets.

Kent Diversification award

A food or drink business in Kent that has diversified over the past 12 months in order to secure its future.

Kent Grower of the Year
A Kent, based business growing/farming crops for human consumption.

Kent Sustainable Food & Drink Award

A food or drink business in Kent who cares about the environment and actively works to protect its future.

Kent Food Product of the Year

The winner of each Food Product class will be automatically entered for the ‘Kent Food Product of the Year’ as overall winner

Kent Community Award

This award is given by the Produced in Kent team: A business or person that has gone over and beyond in any of the following areas: Community Initiative, Customer service, Workforce welfare, Key worker.


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