Tom Flint: The very best of the city’s food and drink

BeFries won the best newcomer award. Photograph by Julia Claxton
BeFries won the best newcomer award. Photograph by Julia Claxton

All the stars were out for the biggest night on the Brighton and Hove food calendar on Monday, as the annual Brighton and Hove Food & Drink Festival awards took place.

The awards celebrate the best that the city’s hospitality industry has to offer, with hardworking staff from restaurants and hotels to cafés and producers being toasted. The night was held at Merkaba for the second year, and as always they put on a great night.

64 Degrees won best restaurant. Photograph by Julia Claxton

64 Degrees won best restaurant. Photograph by Julia Claxton

The awards are co-ordinated by the team behind the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival CIC with public nominations open via the festival website from April to August each year. The top three public nominations in each category are then sent on to the judging panel which scores each finalist through a combination of visiting venues, secret shopping and interviews as applicable.

There were some very popular winners on the night. I was honoured to have been asked to judge the sustainable business category, although was less keen when asked to present the award; public speaking is not my forte.

My big favourites on the night were wins for BeFries in the best newcomber category; 64 Degrees and Michael Bremner in best restaurant and chef respectively and also Isaac Bartlett-Copeland winning the food hero award.

Nick Mosley, festival director, said: “This has been another fantastic year for the city’s food and drink scene with lots of new developments.

V and H cafe won best breakfast and best cafe. Photograph by Julia Claxton

V and H cafe won best breakfast and best cafe. Photograph by Julia Claxton

“The food awards are a celebration of the creativity and diversity in our food economy and a genuine highlight of the food year. A huge amount of work is done behind the scenes by my colleagues at the food festival and our judging panel to ensure the integrity of the awards. We believe the awards are a true representation of the best of the best across the entire hospitality and food industry of Brighton and Hove.”

Everyone who was nominated was a winner in my eyes, but if you want to be pedantic about it, the actual winners were:

– Best afternoon tea: The Salt Room

– Best breakfast: V and H Café

– Best burger: Burger Brothers

– Best café: V and H Café

– Best cheap eats: La Choza

– Best cocktail bar: The Plotting Parlour

– Best family dining: Curry Leaf Café

– Best food pub: The Earth and Stars

– Best international cuisine: Curry Leaf Café

– Best newcomer: BeFries

– Best place to do business: The Salt Room

– Best place to sleep: Artist Residence

– Best producer in the city: Boho Gelato

– Best pub: The Earth and Stars

– Best restaurant: 64 Degrees

– Best sustainable food business: hiSbe

– Best takeaway: The Chilli Pickle

– Best venue design: Red Roaster / Pike & Pine

– Food hero: Isaac Bartlett-Copeland, Isaac At

– Chef of the year: Michael Bremner, 64 Degrees

– Young chef of the year: George Boarer, Etch

– Special recognition award: Hotel du Vin