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Wherstead: Suffolk Food Hall celebrates after scooping FARMA’s Best On Farm Restaurant in Britain award

PUBLISHED: 17:09 25 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:09 25 March 2014

Cousins Robert and Oliver Paul outside The Cookhouse

Cousins Robert and Oliver Paul outside The Cookhouse

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Farmer-restaurateurs are celebrating after their Ipswich-based food business was crowned Best On-Farm Restaurant in Britain.

Cousins Robert and Oliver Paul opened Suffolk Food Hall, a food retail business, at the family farm in Wherstead in 2007. They went on to create The Cookhouse Restaurant in a neighbouring disused farm building in 2012 after the restaurant they originally launched in the upstairs floor of the original building outgrew the space.

The Best On-Farm Restaurant competition is run by national farm shop group the National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association (FARMA), and comes four years after Suffolk Food Hall was awarded Best On-Farm Butcher in Britain.

The business has just invested in a new access between the Food Hall and the Cookhouse buildings.

“There is great pride in the team for winning this award, particularly as the award was judged by our peer-group from across the UK,” said Robert.

Oliver added: “Fellow farm-shops are highly critical of each other because we recognise the value in mutual and collative support within a group of independents.” FARMA managing agent Michael Mack of Smith Gore said: “FARMA is a co-operative of British farmers, farmers’ market organisers, local producers and other independents; and as such is the biggest group of like-minded businesses in Europe.

“FARMA members do much more than sell their delicious wares. They also raise, grow, produce, brew and cook them; deeply involved with and totally dedicated to, all things local, fresh, natural, home grown and British. Part of this, is judging and critiquing each other, to provide communal support and commend success.

The restaurant, with views of the Orwell Bridge, seats 135 people and has a menu that focuses on traditional British food.

Edward Berry, director of the Ludlow Food Centre in Shropshire and principle judge, said: “The Cookhouse is unique among farm shop café/restaurants. It’s large, it has wonderful views but most of all the food is excellent, with ingredients locally sourced, perfectly cooked and presented with charm.”

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