RISING to the challenges of the pandemic is at the heart of three special awards for businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Forming part of the inaugural Foodie Awards 2021, in partnership with Warwickshire County Council and Visit Coventry, they are a celebration of the best of the region’s food and drink scene as they re-emerge from a year of lockdowns.
The award categories, which close soon, aim to recognise businesses and individuals who went above and beyond during the lockdowns – The COVID-19 Resilience Award backed by Visit Coventry; The Godiva Award, sponsored by Coventry BID and the Food Champion Award, sponsored by The Leamington Courier and Rugby Advertiser.
Food Champion (People’s award)
This award recognises a true champion of food and drink in Coventry and Warwickshire. They might be a producer, retailer, supplier or someone who works in food and drink, someone who works tirelessly to promote the food and drink scene in Coventry or Warwickshire, or someone who does something special connected to food and drink, from voluntary efforts to pioneering community initiatives or charitable projects. This ‘people’s choice’ award will recognise that person for the passion, time and effort they throw into food and drink in the area, championing it both locally and on a wider stage.
COVID-19 Resilience Award
This special award will go to a business or individual that can demonstrate how they have successfully not only adapted to, but thrived through the COVID-19 lockdowns with an innovative and out-of-the-box approach to their offering. The category welcomes entries from across the board in the world of food and drink, from cafes to farms, producers to retailers and while recognising that all businesses have tackled unprecedented challenges during this period, will commend one that really did beat all the odds to survive and even thrive.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council said: “Given the massive challenges our food and drink businesses have faced, the COVID-19 Resilience Award couldn’t be a more appropriate category for Visit Coventry to support. Across our diverse hospitality sector, we’ve seen shining examples of creativity, adaptability and ambition, so we’re expecting a hard-fought battle.
“As the months of lockdowns and restrictions have gone by, more and more restaurants, cafes, producers and retailers have diversified their offerings in an effort to continue trading successfully and we’re seeing something new and inventive every single week. There’s still time to showcase these achievements, with entries to the COVID-19 Resilience Award not closing until 31 March. These awards will also remind us that there are still reasons to celebrate as we look forward to better times.”
Godiva Award (exclusive to Coventry)
As a symbol of Coventry and its Medieval past, Lady Godiva is also a symbol of overcoming adversity, which is what this award is about. Judges will be looking to identify a Coventry food and drink business that has reached out to the Coventry community in a way like no other, a business that has its roots in Coventry but has a regional, national and even international feel. As the city with the most twinned cities in the world Coventry’s Godiva Award will be extended to a business that puts Coventry on the map.
Trish Willetts, Director of Coventry BID which is backing the Godiva Award exclusively for Coventry businesses, said: “The time is now to showcase yourselves – Coventry being in the limelight this year as the UK City of Culture you will be able to show the world just how brilliant your business is on the Cultural Stage not only Regionally.
“We decided to extend this opportunity for this particular award because we know that sometimes, when you are IN the business it is hard to work ON the business. So don’t delay in putting yourselves – or your favourite business forward.”
Entrants will be showcasing their talents to a panel of judges made up of some of the top names in the industry, including chef Glynn Purnell, appearing alongside his former employer Andreas Antona, owner of The Cross in Kenilworth, and Russell Allen, managing director of Aubrey Allen.
‘Yummy Brummie’ Glynn Purnell, who regularly appears on TV’s Saturday Kitchen, said: “It’s been a tough year for all of us in hospitality but these awards will help boost local businesses and recognise some of the great talent in the area. I’m looking forward to being involved.”
Also on the judging panel will be Chris Hardy AKA ‘The Fat Foodie’ – a multi award-winning influencer and street food expert.
While entries for most of the categories closed on December 31st, there is still time to nominate for the COVID categories until March 31st. This will be followed by a finalists’ night at Coventry’s new Telegraph Hotel and then a grand ceremony in the spring.
The Foodie Awards will be raising money for The Trussell Trust network of eight food banks in Coventry and Warwickshire.