Essex: Howard Blackwell wins ‘hero’ award at Essex Life Fine Food & Drink Awards

Essex Food and Drink Hero Howard Blackall, centre, with Mike Porter, judge, and Helena Morgan, head

Essex Food and Drink Hero Howard Blackall, centre, with Mike Porter, judge, and Helena Morgan, head of fundraising at award sponsor the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust. - Credit: Archant

A fourth-generation farmer who has been at the heart of local produce for more than 30 years has been named as this year’s Essex Food and Drink Hero in the Essex Life Fine Food and Drink Awards.

Howard Blackwell from Herons Farm, Coggeshall, has been developing a retail business alongside the family farm since the late 1980s, starting off with the direct selling of home-reared meat and now involving Blackwells Farm Shop which stocks a wide range of produce, mostly from within a 20-mile radius around the farm.

Regular open day events are held, offering further insight into the production of Essex food and drink, and a similarly informative approach has been adopted alongside the latest development involving the launch of a restaurant and hotel.

The citation for Mr Blackwell’s Food and Drink Hero honour at this year’s awards said: “This is above and beyond similar establishments by naming and detailing the locality of food and drink served on the premises to all their customers.

“Very few retailers offer such information that the public has a right to know and any customer should be encouraged to ask if not available.”

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Blackwells Farm Shop also picked up the Farm Shop of the Year title at the awards ceremony, which was held at Down Hall Country House Hotel at Hatfield Heath.

Other winners included: Chef of the Year: Jhadre Hayward of the Haywards at Epping; Essex Producer of the Year: Fairfield Farm Crisps, Wormingford; Pride in Essex Award: Maldon Sea Salt; Restaurant of the Year: The White Hart, Great Yeldham; Fork to Field Award: Crofters Wine Bar, Witham; Coffee or Tea Shop of the Year: Scruptious Tea Rooms, Great Dunmow; Community Pub of the Year: The Old Crown, Messing; Customer Service: Ananta Thai Food Restaurant, Wicken Bonhunt; Essex Roast Dinner of the Year: The Braserie, Wivenhoe House, Colchester; Best Family Dining Experience of the Year: Seasons, Woodford Green; and Destination Dining of the Year: Dedham Boathouse Restaurant, Dedham.

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The Essex Life Food and Drink Awards are organised by Essex Life magazine, published by media company Archant whose titles also include the EADT. Full details of this year’s winners will appear in the December issue of the magazine.

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