It’s been a devastating year. Yet in spite of it all, over at YBFs HQ, we’ve been in awe. From individual YBF alumni, to bigger independents and our judges, the food and drink world has had to reassess tirelessly, showing tenacity and resilience when all odds are against them. They’ve been incredible.
Like everyone else, we’ve been reflecting on the future, how best to continue celebrating British talent in a way that’s meaningful in the current circumstances.
After the pandemic and Brexit, what will Britain’s relationship with food and drink be like? Thankfully and about time too, diversity will be at the fore; we’re delighted to welcome some stellar new judges (to be announced shortly – watch this space), as well as new categories to reflect a different world.
Of course, we haven’t been able to put on our annual celebration awards night. But with the help of our partner Marks&Spencer and their latest news-breaking statistics, we’ve put together a YBFs Food & Drink Innovation report for 2021. Featuring expertise and insight from our friends in the industry, from chefs to bar-owners, to authors and restaurateurs, it’s a chance to highlight pioneering initiatives. This is our way of shouting out about the superlative women and men we have in British food & drink.
In 2018 we introduced the Giving Back Award - led by the brilliant Danny McCubbin, Founder of San Patrignano UK and Culture Manager for Jamie Oliver Ltd, and the inspirational Thomasina Miers, who won the first ever Masterchef in 2005, co-founded restaurant group Wahaca and is a trustee of Chefs in Schools. In 2019, we were very lucky to welcome food writer, Telegraph columnist, author and all-round food expert, Xanthe Clay to the panel. This award has been set up to shine a spotlight on the people who are enriching the community through food and drink. The judges are looking for large and small scale social enterprise initiatives and individuals as well.
Celebrating British food and drink through social media, our acclaimed judges includes Melissa Hemsley of Hemsley + Hemsley, notorious for sharing beautiful recipes and inspiring content, Clerkenwell Boy who gives unerring support to the country's best food and drink businesses and Phoebe Hurst, UK Editor of MUNCHIES - VICE, renowned for inspiring culinary coverage.
Sommeliers, managers, waiters, maitre d’s and everything in between, get entering! Inspired by our top judges, Natalia Ribbe of Eighty Six List, Sandia Chang of Bubbledogs, Daniel Willis of the acclaimed Clove Club and Joanne Searley of JKS restaurants, we want to give the restaurant frontline recognition for the great work they do.
Previous finalists to cook before our remarkable panel include the legendary Tom Sellers, John Chantarasak, Tomos Parry and Elizabeth Allen. Brilliant chefs, you might be stuck in the kitchen 24/7, but take 5 minutes to enter and you could get a chance to seriously raise your culinary profile. Judging takes place at the iconic Leiths Cookery School.
Calling all real bread bakers and pioneering cake-makers, this is your chance to shout about what you’re doing! On the panel we have world-renowned baker, food writer, photographer, TV presenter, and celebrity chef Dan Lepard as well as the incredible food writer, cookery school owner, TV cook and GBBO winner John Whaite. Dan and John will judge alongside YBF founder and baker to the stars Lily Jones (AKA Lily Vanilli). They are all waiting to hear from you!
From innovative cocktail-shakers to DIY spirit-creators, our esteemed judges - Alice Lascelles, Financial Times drinks columnist, King of Cocktails, Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan) and The Clove Club's Bar Manager, occasional brewer and booze tinkerer, Rob Simpson - are waiting to be wowed. Mixologists, producers, curators and drinks buffs get entering now.
Charcutiers and butchers, smokers and barbecuers, farmers and smallholders - the meat category is a chance for you to show off your produce and skills, whether it’s rarebreed lamb you’re farming or a ham you’re making more skillfully than the Spanish, French or Italians put together.
Now five years strong, the Vegetable category is judged by chef and restaurateur Jackson Boxer, chef, writer and author Anna Jones, and pickle and preserve phenomenon Kylee Newton of Newton + Pott. From gardens to ferments to amazing produce, they are all looking for something extraordinary to catch their eye.
After high demand and an onslaught of email requests, we’ve created this new category to recognise the very best in homegrown innovation. With the addition of the brilliant April Preston, an innovation industry-leader as M&S Food Director of Product Development, to our panel, we’ll be looking for those working on seminal initiatives in the food and drink world.
The winner of this new category will receive a year of mentoring at M&S, gaining valuable insight into this much-loved food & drink institution, where innovation is at the heart of everything.
If you’re not a chef or baker etc, but are in some way changing how we eat or view the food chain, or have set up an inspiring new initiative during this current crisis, you’re the perfect candidate for this. We’d love to know more about your work! Equally, if you know someone who deserves to be recognised, please nominate them!
Launched by the lauded Sunday Times restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin, who is joined by leading journalists Yotam Ottolenghi and Fay Maschler, as well as BBC Good Food’s Editor-In-Chief Christine Hayes, the Fresh Voices category is a chance for bloggers and journalists to get their words heard.
Winner, Chef of the Year
"The YBFs really does celebrate new and visionary talent from the food and drink world. Winning has given me some great opportunities and undoubtedly helped my career. It’s been a pleasure working alongside the other YBFs winners"