Andy Lynes
 food journalist and writer



13 June 2007


You know there's way too many awards ceremonies when they start handing out trophies for "sexiest male" in a soap opera. But some are worth taking seriously. The Guild of Food Writers held its annual awards this week at London in order to recognize "outstanding achievement in all areas in which food writers work and have influence." That translates as books, magazine and newspaper articles worth reading and TV and radio programmes worth tuning in for.

Nearly 200 writers, broadcasters and publishers crammed into the Blueprint Café restaurant overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge to "scoff, quaff and gossip" as awards presenter Bill Buckley put it. Nominees including chef Mark Hix (London's Le Caprice and The Ivy restaurants), Diana Henry of UK Food TV's Market Kitchen and Shelia Dillon from Radio 4's acclaimed The Food Programme were in attendance, along with noted writers such as Alastair Hendy, Charles Campion and Alex Mackay. Connaught Hotel head chef and budding TV star Angela Hartnett was on hand to dish out the gongs

It was a beautiful summer evening in the city; the champagne flowed and Blueprint head chef Jeremy Lee's deliciously rustic canapés were wolfed down as soon as they appeared from the kitchen. But a lot of work had gone on behind the scenes to make the party go with such a swing.

With hundreds of entries to be assessed, the judging process is a long and arduous one for the 40 unpaid volunteers (all drawn from the ranks of the Guild) who made up the juries for the eight categories. The reading, listening and watching began in early January followed by fierce debates to produce shortlists by May. Winners were finally decided a week before the ceremony.

The work considered runs the gamut from recipe features to hard hitting investigative reporting, so it's a serious business. But ultimately, the awards are a celebration of food and its ability to inspire passion and creativity.

The Guild was founded over 20 years ago and now counts among it members Nigella Lawson, Egon Ronay, Professor Tim Lang (who coined the term "food miles") and, um, me. As a professional association, it exists to look after the interests of its members. But it also strives to influence how we think about and consume food.

The Guild's awards encourages and supports good writing and new talent; the Cook It competition for 8 to 14 year old attempts to engender a love of food amongst the young and the Guild campaigns on a number of issues including organics and sustainability. And as long as there's no Guild of Food Writers award for sexiest food journalist, it's an organisation of which I will remain proud to be a member.