HOW would you like a new Thai restaurant in Huntingdon?
It sounds tempting, and it could be on the cards if the district’s newly crowned best takeaway can find the right premises.
Original Thai, which is based on St Margarets Way, Huntingdon, was last week announced as the winner of the first Best Takeaway Award in The Hunts Post Food and Drink Awards.
The family-run businesses has built up an envious reputation since opening in 2005 with its Pad Thai and green curries proving to be a big hit – it’s the takeaways most popular dish.
It’s co-owned by Piak Kijviriya-Langford, 37, and his wife Nutcharee, who live in Huntingdon.
A delighted Mr Kijviriya-Langford was presented with award last Wednesday (October 17) at a ceremony at The Old Bridge in Huntingdon – one of six winners to be announced at the sixth running of these awards, which again were supported by Huntingdonshire District Council along with the Huntingdonshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses and Glebe Farm of Abbots Ripton.
The best takeaway was the only award to be decided by a text vote – and Original Thai received 90 per cent of the votes cast.
“It mad me realise how much we’re appreciated when I heard we got 90 per cent of the vote,” Mr Kijviriya-Langford said. “We were the first Thai in town and we offer a very different flavour to Indian and Chinese food.”
As well as offering takeaways, Original Thai provides a catering service. But the next big step is ambitious plans for a restaurant.
“We’re been looking for a restaurant for a while now, but it’s proved difficult to find the right one on Huntingdon. People have been asking about us opening a restaurant and it’s something we want to do.”
Also short-listed at the awards, which were hosted by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Sue Dougan, were Oriental Delight in St Neots, and two businesses in St Ives, the Welcome Chinese and the Flaming Wok.
BEST PUBS: DINING AND COMMUNITY
THERE were awards this year for two pubs – the area’s Best Dining Pub and also the Best Community Pub.
Television chef, author and Hunts Post columnist, Dale Pinnock judged the dining category and had the difficult task of choosing between The White Hart, Godmanchester, The Barley Mow, Hartford, The Queen’s Head, Needingworth, and the Three Jolly Butchers, in Wyton.
He gave the award to the White Hart, rewarding the pub for its attention to customer service, wide range of new and old world wines, selected to match the food on offer and the bar and restaurant menus that mix traditional and contemporary food.
Stephen Cooper, owner of the winning pub, said: “I am delighted to win, I didn’t realise the category would be as fiercely competed as it was – there are some great names there.
“This is the first time we have ever been nominated and to also have another pub of mine – The George at Spaldwick – nominated is brilliant.
“We won because of our customer service. We only get one chance to get that right and I’m very pleased that our customers believe we have got that right.”
HCRfm station manager Bill Hensley had the equally difficult task of deciding the winner of the Best Community Pub – those pubs that not only offer great food and drink, but also support their town or village through hosting and organising events, raising money for charity and offering up their pub as a hub.
The Queen’s Head at Needingworth was again on the short-list, along with the Cross Keys at Upwood, The George at Spaldwick and the Crown Inn at Broughton.
Between them these pubs had hosted charity golf days, organised fetes, quizzes and jubilee celebrations and allowed the community to make the pubs’ facilities their own.
The Crown Inn, owned by Mark Burrell, Daska Lever, and Alex and Colombe Flint, was chosen as the winner as it was not only the hub of the village, but the hub of the community.
Mr Burrell said: “We are very honoured and very proud to win this award. Our customers are not just customers, they are like our friends and family to us.
“We listen to what they want if our locals want something and adapt our pub to their ideas - it’s about being there for the villagers not just running a business.”
Sponsored by Huntingdonshire District Council
THE winner of this award said they are constantly looking at ways to improve – always casting a critical eye over the restaurant, raising standards even higher.
And that includes the tiniest of details.
This is combined with a passion for quality – and a chef who is excited by good quality, locally grown produce.
It’s this attention to detail – and great food and service – which saw The Old Bridge in Huntingdon pick up the Best Restaurant Award for the fourth time.
“We do try,” Nina Rhodes, manager, said modestly. “I think we have great individuals here who provide good service. We’re always looking for new produce and we don’t sit back or get complacent – we are never satisfied and want to keep on improving and to be the best, looking to upgrade everything.”
Behind the scenes, in the kitchen, James Claydon puts the Old Bridge philosophy into action. He’s been with the restaurant for two-and-a-half years and has a created a menu that includes many Italian influences and dishes that make best use of seasonal produce – all of which impressed judge Terry Parker, managing director of Huntingdonshire District Council.
Also on the shortlist in this category were Amore in St Ives (a great achievement for a restaurant that has only recently opened), the Bow Window in Ramsey and the Montaz, which is also in St Ives.
BEST LOCAL PRODUCER
Sponsored by Glebe Farm
AT the heart of any good recipe are quality ingredients and the Huntingdonshire producers shortlisted in the category offer the highest standards.
Hunts Post readers nominated Sue Eddy at Pingles Farm, Tilbrook Grange Beef and Edible Ornamentals – Passionate Chilli Growers. They were nominated for their eggs, beef and chillis and it was left to Rebecca Rayner, the owner of Glebe Farm at Kings Ripton and the producer of flour, cakes mixes, beer and other products.
After much deliberation, the award went to Tilbrook Grange Beef, which is farmer by twins Gavin and James Hunter. They have a herd of more than 200 pedigree Devons and as well as selling live stock and dealing directly with many pubs and restaurants in the area, the farm shop gives the public the chance to buy some of their beef.
The meat is air dried for three weeks, to improve tenderness and taste, before going on sale as steaks and homemade burgers.
James Hunter, who collected the award, said: “We produce quality beef and we offer full traceability of where our beef comes from – it certainly isn’t from Argentina.
“This is a boost for the farm and I am very pleased.”
The judge was impressed by how the farm, in its 52nd year producing beef, produced fresh, high quality meat in a natural way using prize-winning animals.
Sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses
IF you’re fed up with fighting your way around a supermarket, then take a note of the following businesses – each offering the kind of quality and service that can convert shopping from a chore to a pleasure.
And among the shortlist was also a place to relax and have some food and drink – you can even bring your pet.
The shortlist for this category was the Number 12 Deli and Village Store in Spaldwick (a previous winner of the award), T&S Thomas Family Butchers in Godmanchester, Johnsons of Oldhurst and Café Du Gallery, Huntingdon.
Judged by the Federation of Small Businesses, it was a hard task to separate these business.
But there could only be one winner and this year the award went to T&S Thomas Family Butchers.
With good all-round customer service, great produce, good promotions and displays, T&S Thomas was a worthy winner.
“It’s tough trying to compete with the main supermarkets but we have delivered,” owners Tim and Sharon Thomas told The Hunts Post. “We are very grateful to our customers and thank them for the support they give us. We have a good local commitment and it’s obvious that our customers realise what’s on their doorstep.”
The business was started 12 years ago and has about 40 established restaurants, pubs and caterers as customers, as well as the Godmanchester shop. Tim and Sharon also deliver to businesses between 15 and 20 miles away from Godmanchester.