AWARD WINNING NIGHT
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.