Here at Food & Drink Guides, we love to champion local producers and independent regional suppliers, and nobody does it better than Taste of the West, who are the largest independent regional food group in the UK, promoting and supporting fantastic local food and drink from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Thursday 12th September saw the Taste of the West Awards 2019, where 420 people gathered in the aptly named Great Hall at Exeter University to celebrate the West Country’s finest food and drink, best pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops. Food and drink producers from the West Country were nominated and could take home awards in a variety of categories, from restaurants and local food-to-go, to farm shops, bakeries, wines and spirits and sweet preserves. There were 37 awards in total and we spoke to Bright Solicitors who have partnered with TOTW to provide legal services and sponsor two of the awards, in their own capacity and as Taste of the West Legal Services.

“We believe our history and ethos provide us with a unique advantage when working with Taste of the West’s members” said Matt Cook, head of the Commercial team. “We are ourselves a growing local business, so we understand the challenges our clients are facing. Working with Taste of the West gives a great opportunity to further tailor our services to the needs of their membership and work in partnership with them to provide a service of real value and relevance.”

Some of the winners on the night include Brockley Stores, who took home the award for the best retailer/deli which was sponsored by Taste of the West Legal Services. Brockley Stores, a farm shop just outside of Bristol, champions living in harmony with their local environment and helps people to fulfil their eating choices, minimise their food miles, and farm ethically. To underline the healthy image of West Country food and drink, the Supreme Champion Product went to Natural Branscombe for their innovative approach to salad production.

Supreme Champion Winners – Jenny Lonnberg and Ian Crowe from Natural Branscombe

Bright Solicitors also sponsored the award for the Best South West Casual Dining, which was awarded to the Cove Café Bar at Hope Cove in south Devon. Previously described by Devon Life as the “South West’s best craft beach bar by a country mile”, during the awards ceremony it was noted that the café takes great pride in themselves and in making their customers happy, making it clear that the owners have an excellent team which adds to the great dining experience set in the heart of an unspoilt fishing village.

Other winners included Moo Milk, who won best Dairy Product, and it’s official: the best sausage in the South West comes from Kenniford Farm – it’s their Devon Pork Sausage. Be sure not to miss out on this champion product, which is described as “a fabulous, delicious, unadultered pork sausage. Well-balanced seasoning, very tasty and utterly moreish. A first-class banger!”

In a time of political upheaval that is bound to impact food and drink producers more than most, Taste of the West Chief Executive John Sheaves had this to say about the region’s food industry:

There was a time when the West Country food industry was confined to the production of primary products, which of course we do grow best here like meat and dairy products, but now the sector is home to a huge variety of food and drink products from our farmers and growers yes, but also from artisan and speciality food producers who have taken up the food challenge.  This all means that consumers can now buy the most incredible range of products – all produced here in our wonderful region. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, the region is well placed now to offer the world a fantastic broad range of food and drink which is provenance based, top quality, healthy and sustainably produced.”

To see a full list of nominees and winners, head to www.tasteofthewest.co.uk and lend your support to some of the fantastic West Country companies producing excellent local produce.

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