Kent Comes Out in Force to Vote For Local Food and Drink in the Taste of Kent Awards 2021
With just three days left until the public voting closes for the Taste of Kent Awards 2021, residents of Kent are showing overwhelming support for their favourite local food, tipple, farm shop, pub, or restaurant with a doubling of the votes cast compared to last year. With over 28,000 votes received so far and counting, there has also been more than double the number of businesses nominated in this year’s awards with over 1100 nominations received compared to last year’s public vote.
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. This year’s awards will recognise all of the hard work, dedication, and professionalism shown during the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst not deviating too far from its usual concept. TOKA is ultimately about recognising outstanding food and drink and promoting amazing businesses.
Produced in Kent’s Chief Executive Floortje Hoette comments, “the fantastic volume of votes received so far proves to me, more than anything else, the changing attitude towards local food and drink. Customers are buying more local products since the start of the pandemic, have gotten to know and grown to appreciate the local businesses behind their foods of choice, and understand that they need our continued support and custom to survive these very challenging times.
The most popular categories are Kent Beer of the Year and Hospitality Business of the Year” she continues, “which tells me people are missing their pint in the pub! I urge everyone to cast their vote and show our food and drink heroes how much we care. The exposure that finalists and winners in the 16 categories receive from the Taste of Kent Awards really helps to drive sales to their business – so go online www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk and vote today!”.
After the public voting closes on Sunday the 28th of February at midnight, the Produced in Kent team and a group of dedicated judges consisting of foodie experts and sponsor representatives will work around the clock to count and verify votes. Amongst them will be John Farrand of the UK’s Great Taste Awards. On Monday the 15th of March, the three finalists in each category will be announced, followed by a food and drink judging event held at Macknade on Tuesday the 23rd of March 2021 and a series of virtual 1-2-1 interviews. The winners will be announced in May.
The voting process has never been easier: simply click on the category that you would like to vote in, scroll through the list and select your favourite, and click vote. If you cannot see the name of the business you would like to support, simply click the Add Your Favourite button, then go back and vote for them when they have been approved and added to the list.
“We are delighted to be receiving support from three fantastic sponsors this year: Southern Co-op, NFU Mutual, and Southeastern Rail” comments Hoette. “Thanks to their generous contribution, we can organise a hybrid event which will be quirky and different, but still comply with social distancing regulations”.
This year’s categories open for public voting, are as follows:
Kent Ambient Product of the Year
Product using ingredients that 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 that 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 the 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, Keyworker.