This week saw the annual Fortnum & Mason awards takeover The Royal Exchange, in a glitzy ceremony co-hosted by Claudia Winkleman and celebrated chef Angela Hartnett.
Championing excellence in food and drink writing, publishing, broadcasting and photography, the winners were selected by an expert panel comprising some of the most talented figures in food and drink including; Asma Khan, chef/restaurateur; Olly Smith, wine columnist and TV presenter; Rosie Birkett, food and cookery writer for The Sunday Times; Miguel Barclay, chef and author; Sandrae Lawrence, editor of The Cocktail Lovers Magazine and Peter McCombie MW, wine consultant and writer.
While we tucked into oysters, smoked salmon, toffee apples and copious flutes of champagne, the awards began…
The first of the evening was presented to the ever-popular Tom Kerridge who scooped the Programme Award for the critically-acclaimed Saving Britain’s Pubs.
The Judges’ Choice Award went to Fay Maschler, for her long-standing dedication to restaurant writing.
The Fortnum & Mason Special Award this year went to chef Larry Jayasekara who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to feed the NHS. The Michelin-starred former head chef of Petrus led an army of chefs at Le Pont de la Tour, who together prepared over 1000 lunches a day for workers at University College Hospital.
Cumbrian farmer James Rebanks collected the award for the Best Food Book with English Pastoral, his insightful and honest account of how he decided to farm in a more sustainable way.
The winner of the Debut Food Book went to Guardian food writer and restaurant critic Grace Dent for Hungry – a tender and hilarious account of her journey from 1980s Carlisle to the world of London restaurants. If you haven’t read it yet, you must – we devoured it.
The Cookery Book went to Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley for Falastin, a lavish compendium celebrating the recipes, stories and people of Palestinian food. In the Debut Cookery Book category, pastry master and chef at the Holborn Dining Room collected the award for his first book The Pie Room – a celebration of British pies.
Food Writer went to Ruby Tandoh for work in Vittles, a food newsletter created at the start of the pandemic which has developed into a growing global platform of food writing. Georgina Hayden took the Cookery Writer Award for her work in Waitrose Food Magazine.
At the age of twenty-one, Victoria James was named America’s youngest sommelier. Her memoir, Wine Girl, winner of the Drink Book is an unflinching account of life in New York’s glamourous, yet toxic, fine-dining world. Debut Drink Book was won by bartender Cas Oh for his book Co-Specs, an indispensable A-Z guide to classic cocktails which took five years to create.
Rob Lawson took home the Photographer award for his series of sensual drinks images inspired by the world of fragrance. Drink Writer went to Will Hawkes for work in Tonic Magazine and Pellicle, while Jimi Famurewa received the Restaurant Writer award for work in the Evening Standard’s ES magazine.
Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co won the Radio/Podcast Award for their Food Talks series.
Personality of the Year was won by James Martin, chef and host of ITV’s Saturday Morning show and Digital Creator of the Year went to recipe site Pinch of Nom. Both categories are chosen by the public where fans from across the country vote for their favourite foodies.
Tom Athron, CEO of Fortnum & Mason, commented: “Fortnum & Mason has been an innovator in the world of food and drink for over 300 years, and we’re proud to play our part in supporting the unparalleled food and drink scene here in the UK. This year’s entries displayed an encyclopaedic depth of knowledge and the shortlist was particularly impressive for its dazzling diversity and reassuring quality. The winners are a testament to the strength of the writing and broadcasting on the subjects of food and drink in this country and it is our privilege to encourage such distinction in these media disciplines.”