Leeds Oliver Awards 2023: Meet the judges of the Yorkshire Evening Post's food and drink awards
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Following the success of the Oliver Awards 2022, with hundreds of entries and more than 400 attendees, the Leeds awards are back for the 15th year – celebrating the finest restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, takeaways and chefs in the city.
Businesses with an LS postcode, and/or in the Leeds City Council district, have until Monday February 6 to enter into 15 different categories – from Best Fine Dining Experience to Newcomer of the Year. Entries can be made on the Oliver Awards website.
A panel of industry experts will then review the nominations, whittling them down to a shortlist. The winners will be announced at a glitzy ceremony at Headingley Stadium on Monday March 20 - and one finalist will be crowned the Overall Restaurant of the Year.
We meet the panel of judges who have the unenviable task of picking the finalists and winners of the Oliver Awards 2023.
Stephanie Moon is a chef consultant who supports lots of businesses in Yorkshire and North of England. Steph is passionate about local produce and helps to promote local suppliers as much as possible. She has travelled the world with her job, working from The Dorchester to Hotels in Australia, Germany, America and at the world-famous Kulm Hotel in Saint Moritz.
Steph is a regular on the food scene and can often be seen demonstrating at The Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate Flower Show, York Living North and York Food Festival. She is passionate about teaching and loves working with The Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School and The Cooks Place. She also works with various colleges around Yorkshire such as Leeds City College and further afield like Middlesborough college - packing a lot into the day cooking up some foodie fun.
Elaine Lemm is an award-winning food writer, former cookery school owner, chef and restaurateur. For seven years, she has been the food and wine editor of Yorkshire Life magazine and has been the restaurant critic and cookery writer for the Yorkshire Post for more than 20 years.
Other leading publications and websites she works with are BBC Good Food, Olive magazine, National Geographic Food, Food 52, Spruce Eats, New York Times and Waitrose Food Illustrated. Elaine has also chaired many awards including the prestigious White Rose Tourism Awards, Yorkshire Life Food and Wine, Taste of Herriot and she is currently co-chairwoman of the National Farm Shop and Deli awards.
As an author, Elaine has written four books, including the highly acclaimed Great Book of Yorkshire Puddings and More Than Yorkshire Puddings, published in 2002 and recently awarded UK Regional Book of the Year at the World Cookbook Awards.
Award-winning blogger Stanley Dru has lived in Leeds for almost 12 years. He currently works as a content creator working with the likes of Sky, Penhaligons, ARLA, ASOS and H&M. Stan is also a blogger and a writer for H&N magazine, where he writes about fashion, food and travel.He said: “I eat out a lot! Whether it’s for an article I’m writing, or just out to enjoy a good meal, either way Leeds has a huge variety of amazing bars, restaurants and pubs which offer so many delicious choices. Since switching to a vegetarian diet over three years ago, it’s been amazing to see the plethora of delicious options Leeds has to offer. I’m so excited to be part of the panel to offer my thoughts and experiences along the way.”
Abbey Maclure is a senior reporter and the Yorkshire Evening Post's lifestyle specialist. She heads up the YEP’s Little Oliver and Barfly teams, which review restaurants, bars and pubs every week, and has developed an intricate knowledge of the restaurant scene from the city centre to the suburbs. From interviewing the city's most accomplished chefs to trying out new street food start-ups and party hotspots, Abbey is passionate about giving businesses across the sector a platform to shout about their achievements.
Danny Malin – guest judge
Rate My Takeaway star Danny Malin is a guest judge for the Best Takeaway category. From selling meat in Kirkgate Market and enjoying the odd kebab, he’s become a viral comedian online for his funny social media videos and being the face of the now award-winning Rate My Takeaway YouTube series – seen by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Danny also presents on TV, hosts events and had had two Christmas songs released with producer Toddla T, all while being a family man at heart, living in a humble home in West Yorkshire with his four children. There’s nothing Danny loves more than spending quality family time exploring Yorkshire, eating food for a living, doing community work and making funny videos just to make people smile.
Wayne Topley – guest judge
Wayne Topley is the chairman of the Leeds Hotel and Venues Association (LHVA) and managing director of Cedar Court Hotels Group. This year, he will be a guest judge for the Best Newcomer category.
Wayne has been Yorkshire-based for the last 20 years and has delivered results across a range of hotels – including destination conference venues, airport hotels, city centre properties and 5-star golf and leisure resorts. A hospitality stalwart, Wayne is a passionate advocate for the industry, vocally lobbying for hospitality and very keen focus on memorable service and clear identity for businesses in Yorkshire.