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Bears Ice Cream Imaginarium, Kentish Pip Cider and Boys Hall win prestigious Taste of Kent Awards

Bears Ice Cream Imaginarium, Kentish Pip Cider and Boys Hall win prestigious Taste of Kent Awards

TOKA 24 Winners

A bountiful feast from the Garden of England, leading Kent food and drink producers, farmers and restaurants were amongst those recognised at this year’s renowned Taste of Kent Awards (TOKA). Accolades went to businesses across the county, including ice cream innovators Bears Ice Cream Imaginarium based in Whitstable, Canterbury craft cider makers Kentish Pip Cider and dining destination Boys Hall in Ashford.

A panel of judges, led by experienced Head judge and food & drink broadcaster Nigel Barden, blind tasted a variety of products from across the county, from Rock oysters and Romney Marsh lamb to Vegetable Curry Buns and Cherry & Hibiscus Gin. Held on Thursday 13th June at The Gulbenkian, thanks to the generosity of head sponsors the University of Kent and Southeastern, the award evening celebrates food and drink excellence across the county.

It was a winning night for Canterbury based bakery Little Sugar, who took home both Free-From Product of the year and Sweet Bakery Product of the year for their Caramel Peanut Brownie. While Winterdale Shaw won Cheese of the year, Wandering Wayfarer Bacchus 2022 was named Wine of the year, and Whitstable Oyster Trading Company took home the Fish or Seafood product of the year for their Pacific Rock Oysters.

Also present at the judging day, Deputy Director of Commercial Services, Melissa Browne from venue sponsor The University of Kent. “Some of these products may have taken years to develop, involving investment, time and vision, so to have an award where they can be recognised for all of that hard work is really important. What’s really impressed me is the quality and the imagination as well. Some of the foods we’ve had, I’ve never tasted anything like it and I think there’s a lot to be proud of.”

As well as recognising Kent products for taste, a series of awards were made to businesses for their overall contribution, including:

  • Farm of the Year – awarded to Kingcott Dairy in Staplehurst
  • Start-Up Food & Drink Business of the Year - awarded to Nightingale Dairy in Alkham
  • Kent Community Award – going to Lily’s Social Kitchen

Start-Up food & drink business of the year was won by Nightingale Dairy for Kent’s first ever mobile milk vending machine. Launched last summer, the vending machine from Nightingale Dairy is self-serve, offering fresh milk, milkshakes, and frappes. The milk comes from the family farm's herd of rare and native breed cattle in the Alkham Valley. You can find the mobile milk vending machine regularly at Alkham Village Hall with exciting new milkshake flavours to try.

Whilst the Special Award for Kent Community went to Lily’s Social Kitchen for providing employment and training for people with neuro diversity or learning disabilities in Canterbury, Ashford and Maidstone. Work placements and training take place in cafes, coffee shops and a catering business, where local communities can access affordable food.

The Taste of Kent awards are organised and hosted by Produced in Kent, CEO Susie Warran Smith says: “This event is the culmination of months of judging and tasting, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our judges and congratulate the worthy winners. Time and again these awards demonstrate the incredible talent, innovation, and heritage we have here in Kent, the range of produce we have seen is really quite astounding, we have much to be proud of!”

The Taste of Kent Awards Food and Drink Festival was held before the awards ceremony on Thursday 13th June. After a successful introduction last year, this public event showcases the shortlisted products and enable the local community to taste and buy from the best in Kent.

Now in its 19th year, The Taste of Kent Awards (TOKA) celebrates the tastiest food and drink of Kent. The awards shine a spotlight on the region’s excellence in producing fine quality British produce. The awards are made possible because of the generous support of TOKA’s sponsors: Southeastern, The University of Kent, Brachers, Crowe UK, Digitom, EKC Group, Financial Advice & Services Ltd, GrowUp Farms, Jestic Foodservice Solutions, kff, NFU Mutual Ashford Tenterden & Whitfield, Oxbury, Port of Dover, Shepherd Neame, Social Enterprise Kent, Southern Co-op and the University of Greenwich.

Full list of winners:

Kent Savoury Pantry Product of the Year

Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil blended with Lemon, Kentish Oil & Condiments, Canterbury

Kent Sweet Pantry Product of the Year

No Added Sugar Blackcurrant No Ordinary Jam, Rosemary's, Maidstone

Kent Savoury Bakery Product of the Year

Malaysian Vegetable Curry Bun, Gilda Bakery Ltd, Bishopsbourne, Canterbury

Kent Sweet Bakery Product of the Year

Caramel Peanut Brownie, Little Sugar Ltd, Canterbury

Kent Confectionery or Snack Product of the Year

Lamb & Rosemary Crisps, Kent Crisps, Bridge, Canterbury

Kent Cheese of the Year

Winterdale Shaw, Winterdale Cheesemakers, Sevenoaks

Kent Dairy Product of the Year

Blueberry-Lavender Jam, Meringue Swirl Ice cream, Bears Ice Cream Imaginarium, Whitstable

Kent Meat Product of the Year

Shoulder of Lamb, S W Doughty Butchers, Doddington, Sittingbourne

Kent Fish or Seafood Product of the Year

Whitstable Pacific Rock Oysters, Whitstable Oyster Trading Company, Whitstable

Kent Ready Meal or Prepared Food Product of the Year

Luxury Seafood Platter, The Boathouse Fisheries Ltd, St Mary’s Bay

Kent Non-Alcoholic Cold Drink of the Year

Sparkling Apple Juice, Biddenden Vineyards, Biddenden

Kent Non-Alcoholic Hot Drink of the Year

Decaf Earl Grey, Bergamia Tea Ltd, Sittingbourne

Kent Free-From Product of the Year

Caramel Peanut Brownie, Little Sugar Ltd, Canterbury

Kent Spirit of the Year

Kentish Cherry & Hibiscus, Whitstable Harbour Gin, Whitstable

Kent Beer of the Year

Lucky Day, Pig And Porter Ltd, Tunbridge Wells

Kent Wine of the Year

Wandering Wayfarer Bacchus 2022, Wayfarer Wines LLP, Woodchurch

Kent Cider of the Year

Craftsman, Kentish Pip Cider, Bekesbourne, Canterbury

Kent Independent Retailer of the Year

Loddington Farm Shop, Boughton Monchelsea

Kent Food and Drink Market of the Year

West Malling Farmers' Market, West Malling

Kent Fine Dining Experience of the Year

The Smallholding, Kilndown

Kent Casual Dining Experience of the Year

Boys Hall, Willesborough, Ashford

Kent Café, Coffee Shop or Tea Room of the Year

Kin Coffee, Staplehurst

Kent Farm of the Year

Kingcott Dairy, Staplehurst

Kent Start-up Food and Drink Business of the Year

Nightingale Dairy, Alkham

Kent Sustainable Business of the Year

Clock House Farm, Coxheath

Kent Free-From Business of the Year

A Little Bit Food, Bridge, Canterbury

Kent Community Award

Lily's Social Kitchen, Canterbury, Ashford, Maidstone