The closing date for the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2024 is fast approaching – make sure that you have your say.

Food and drink are an intrinsic part of Suffolk. We see it in the fields that make up our countryside, the farmers’ markets that tempt us with delicious local produce, the coastline that brings us seafood delights, and the chefs that turn simple ingredients into something truly special.

The Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2024 are all about recognising and celebrating this wonderful local industry.

East Anglian Daily Times: Don't miss your chance to nominate your favourites for the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2024Don't miss your chance to nominate your favourites for the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2024 (Image: Getty Images)
The awards are brought to you by Suffolk Magazine, in association with the East Anglian Daily Times.

We are proud to be working with our headline sponsor Thomas Ridley Foodservice, which is a great supporter of the awards and of celebrating the food and drink sector in Suffolk.

“At Thomas Ridley, we’re all foodie people and really passionate about the Suffolk food and drink industry – so supporting these awards was the perfect fit for us,” said Jon Matthews, sales director at Thomas Ridley Foodservice.

“From our customers to our suppliers, we’re always working with local producers and food businesses, so we’re really excited to be part of the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards process this year. There’s no better way to help celebrate excellence within our thriving food and drink scene.”  

We would also like to thank our category sponsors: Suffolk New College, Pier, The Hotel Folk and The VENI Project.

We have 11 categories open for entries (see criteria details below), plus the non-entry Outstanding Achievement award, and will be accepting entries from businesses themselves, as well as nominations from customers.

Entries will remain open until midnight on Sunday, January 7, 2024 – nominate your foodie favourites and see the full entry criteria at

Judging will then commence, with two judges per category going out to complete organised meetings, or unannounced visits.

They will judge against set criteria to determine the finalists for each category. The winners will be announced at the 2024 Suffolk Food and Drink Awards event at Snape Maltings, on Monday, April 29. 

East Anglian Daily Times: The awards are an opportunity to celebrate our wonderful food and drink industryThe awards are an opportunity to celebrate our wonderful food and drink industry (Image: Getty Images)

Outstanding Achievement Award

Sponsored by Thomas Ridley Foodservice 

This non-entry category recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the county’s food and drink sector. The winner could come from any part of the industry – a grower, producer, cook, restaurateur, retailer, educator or local food and drink champion. 

The judges will select someone who is an expert in their field, has a proven track record, inspires colleagues, educates and sets standards which others aim to attain. 

This award winner is selected by a panel of judges using their industry knowledge.    

Jon Matthews of Thomas Ridley Foodservice said: “The Outstanding Achievement Award is going to be really special and really hard to narrow down.   

“From individuals who have dedicated their life to their craft to young people starting out in the industry and already achieving great things – there’s a lot of scope for this award to recognise an individual, of any age, who has had a fantastic impact on the Suffolk food and drink industry!”

Best Coffee Shop/Café 

The judges will look for a coffee shop/café in Suffolk that is able to create an outstanding customer experience – a warm welcome, high-quality tea and/or coffee plus a range of other drinks, tasty food made from fresh, local produce, all served with an excellent level of customer service. 

Judges will be impressed by a relaxed, comfortable ambience, originality, an imaginative menu and aspects that make the café or tea shop special.    

Best Newcomer

Sponsored by Pier

This award is open to any business or individual who has started a food and/or drink venture in the last three years. 

The judges will be looking for an outstanding early-stage business that has already become a success story or shows promise to become one. 

The winner will be a company that is able to demonstrate a pioneering approach, strong performance over the past year, as well as the potential to flourish and be sustainable. 

Among the qualities the judges will be looking for are a dedicated effort to drive the business forward, potential and vision.  

Amy Bendall, managing director at Pier, said: “As a proud Suffolk business serving the food and drink industry, we know firsthand just how much talent we have got on our doorstep. From the diversity of produce to world-class innovations, Suffolk is an absolute haven for foodies, and we love being so spoilt for choice in our home county. 

“Best Newcomer is arguably the most important category. Everyone has to start somewhere, and those early years in business are so critical. We are very pleased to help shine the spotlight on the talent driving the future of our food and drink industry. It will be a genuine pleasure to help judge the entries.”

Best Suffolk Producer 

Sponsored by The Hotel Folk

This award recognises the fantastic food and drink products being created within the county. Judges will be looking for a first-class product that demonstrates the manufacturer’s flair for creating, developing and delivering a distinctive, successful and respected item, either as a standalone or as part of its brand. 

Manufacture of this will have been in Suffolk, although it is not essential that every ingredient is sourced from within the county’s borders.   

David Scott, CEO of The Hotel Folk, said: “We have several food and drink producers that are household brands on plates, tables and in glasses up and down homes and restaurants nationally. This proves just how important it is to cherish local producers, and we’re proud to be able to help shine a light on the talent we have in this county and the great work they are doing each and every day.”

Chef of the Year

This prestigious award is open to chefs of any level who are currently working within the Suffolk food and drink industry. 

Competitors may come from all areas of the hospitality business, including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors. 

The award will recognise the close link of fine food with using the best of local produce.   
Readers, businesses and chefs are able to nominate in this category, then chefs will be contacted to submit a formal entry.   

Field to Fork 

Sponsored by Suffolk New College 

Judges are looking for individuals or businesses with the ability and vision to grow food or drink produce in this region. 

These are growers and producers who are passionate about what they do and who have the talent and skill to grow, develop and market outstanding and commercially scalable food or drink produce. 

They also need to show environmental credentials and demonstrate contribution to the local community. 

Craig Shimmon, head of marketing at Suffolk new College, said: “With our very own land-based college in Otley, we know how important it is to support the Suffolk landscape and community.  

“We also serve outstanding local food and drink produce at our Chefs’ Whites restaurant in the vibrant town of Ipswich, so it feels very befitting to support the Field to Fork category.”

Food/Drink Experience   

Judges are looking for the very best food/drink experience in Suffolk. This could include farmers markets, themed food events or themed menu experiences, for example. 

The judges will be impressed with experiences that have successfully been running for years, or brand-new experiences that have been a great success to date. 

Judges would also like to hear of plans for the future offering.    

Food and Drink Retailer of the Year  

This award recognises retailers who combine vision, a passion for high-quality products and freshness of local produce. 

Marks will be awarded for clear, well laid-out shops that offer a wide variety of great products, and for staff who demonstrate memorable standards of customer care, product knowledge and service.

Judges will be looking for innovation in products and presentation, as well as any added facilities the retailer has to offer. 

This category is open to farm shops, markets and retailers.    

Front of House Experience   

Judges in this category will be looking for the level of front of house provision that makes a truly enjoyable visit to a restaurant, café or pub. 

A warm welcome, understanding and anticipating customers’ needs, good knowledge of menus, dishes and provenance of ingredients will be expected, as well as a personable approach that complements the establishment and really enhances the visit. 

This category seeks to recognise an often overlooked yet extremely important sector of the hospitality industry.   

Pub/Bar of the Year 

Nominations will be accepted for pubs and bars across Suffolk that have created a high-quality offering for their customers. 

Bars, traditional drinking pubs and those that have built a reputation for their restaurant and/or bar menu will be considered for this award. 

Common to all finalists will be great standards of customer service and understanding of their market, technical expertise in sourcing and providing a good range and standard of drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – plus a sense of character that makes a visit to these pubs or bars an enjoyable well-rounded experience.   

Restaurant of the Year 

Sponsored by The VENI Project

Nominees will be accepted for restaurants across Suffolk that have the ability to create an incomparable dining experience from ambience to the service.

Most importantly the menu will be varied, using local fresh produce and served with an excellent level of customer service.   

Street Food Vendor   

The judges will be looking for a street food vendor offering tasty, sweet treats, savoury snacks or take away meals. 

Vendors eligible for this award should be based in Suffolk and attend markets, fairs, events and shows. 

The judges will be impressed with a high-quality offering, enticing menu, the use of local produce and affordable pricing.