Still time to get your nominations in for the Yorkshire Evening Post Olivers food and drink awards
With just a few more weeks to go until the closing date for nominations for the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Oliver food and drink awards, we introduce you to the panel who will have the tasty task of judging the entries.
Returning for a second year are three experts who know all there is to know about food and drink in Leeds, from the best pint of real ale to an exquisite dish of Foie gras.
Amanda Wragg is a food writer who has worked for Yorkshire TV as a scriptwriter and producer. She writes for The Sunday Times and Sawday’s Special Places and is a Yorkshire Post food critic. Stephanie Moon is a consultant chef and the winner of 2018’s Outstanding Achievement award and a former executive chef at Rudding Park, Harrogate. Simon Jenkins is a beer writer, author and journalist and has penned the YEP’s weekly Taverner column for the last 25 years.
While he has been researching pubs and pints for a living for almost three decades, this is the only competition that Jenkins judges and he shares his secrets as to what makes a good pub.
He said: “This is the only competition I judge but I do this because it is interesting to see the variety of restaurants that are in Yorkshire and to work with colleagues that are more knowledgeable than I am about food.
“When I go into a pub, I can sense the atmosphere as soon as I walk in the place and get a sense of how well it is run, how you are greeted. It is almost a sixth sense.”
One judge who will be all too familiar to chefs and restaurateurs is Amanda Wragg, one of the most respected food critics in the business. Out of all the years of taste tests there is just a handful of places she keeps going back to. Regardless of Michelin stars, she says value for money is her first menu choice.
She said: “It was the first time I did The Oliver’s last year, it was really good fun and great to work with Steph and Simon. We are all bringing something different to the table. Simon knows everything about wine and beer and I know nothing, so it is great to have that spread of skills.
“For me the most important thing - and it does not matter whether it is a nice little Italian where you have a bowl of spaghetti and a glass of red wine or a Michelin starred restaurant. The thing that drives me is value for money. I don’t mind spending £110 on a dinner if it is good, if it is not - you are being ripped off.”
Completing the line-up is Steph Moon, who as a consultant chef has to be ahead of the game, and says the Oliver Awards is the place to do it.
She said: “Like everything else, what is fashionable this month will be old hat next year. Leeds is exciting, there is some great, fresh new talent, it is ever-changing and some of the quirky privately owned places are really standing out.
“With the awards, it is fantastic to find what’s new, what’s fresh and out there as well as catching up with old friends and celebrating food and drink in Yorkshire on a platform that has great kudos. People are proud of their Oliver awards.”
One of the best ways to lend your support to the local dining scene is to vote in the YEP Oliver Awards. All the nominations will be revealed in November before our judges whittle them down to a shortlist in January. The winners will be announced at a black tie event at Elland Road in March.
Best Family Friendly
Best Local Produce
Best Brunch (instead of lunch)
Best Speciality Vegan/Vegetarian/Seafood
Best Gastro Pub and Brewery
Best Fine Dining Experience
Best Customer Service
The People’s Choice
Chef of the Year
Overall Restaurant of the Year