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Meet our Judges: Ian Nottage, Head of Food Development at Fresh Direct

Hospitality & Retail Category Judge

Ian Nottage Sysco Kitchen 42 Large

Ian lives in Rochester and is a classically trained Chef with over 40 years experience in the foodservice and hospitality industry and a Fellow of the Craft Guild of Chefs.

He is Head of Food Development at Fresh Direct where he works with their extensive customer base to forge meaningful links between grower, farmer, producer, manufacturer, chefs and buyers to deliver profitable, relevant and innovative menu solutions and to help develop the understanding and appreciation in the trade about how our produce arrives from field to fork, dairy to dish, fisherman to frying pan or producer to platter.

During his time in professional kitchens Ian held positions as Executive Chef at such prestigious venues as Hampton Court Palace, Stoll Moss theatres and The London Coliseum.

Ian is also involved in the wider industry and is an active member of The Craft Guild of Chefs and a regular judge at The Great Taste Awards, Quality Food Awards, World and British Cheese Awards, Hotelympia Salon Culinaire and the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards.

He is also co-founder and event director of The Universal Cookery and Food Festival

As a Kent resident I am delighted to be involved in the judging panel again this year for the TOKA’s As a county we have some of the best farming land, coastline and orchards and the most amazing artisan producers and produce in the country and a very rich history of producing amazing food and drink. We are after all The Garden of England. From cheesemakers to chocolatiers, distillers to dairies, brewers to bakers, fisheries to farms we have a huge amount to shout about and be proud of. What I’m looking for in a great product is provenance, good use of local produce, something unique or different but above all Taste, Taste, Taste. The product, whether it be a piece of cheese, a beer or a small batch gin has to make you go WOW!!. Make you want to go and actively seek it out and buy it, recommend it to friends and put it on your table at home. I would urge all entrants to put their best products forward, ones they know are fantastically good, not just because they think so but because everyone tells them so. The benefit to the producer is like an affirmation of a job well done and a product well crafted. Apart from the obvious benefit of being able to display the TOKA logo as an endorsement to let consumers know how good the product is and support sales, there is also the knowledge that you are doing the right thing and it’s been independantly verified by experts. Many producers pour their heart and soul into their products and process and its very often a labour of love. Hopefully these awards give them the inspiration and encouragement to keep on doing it and bring fabulous food and drink to the people of the county and beyond