Hunts Food and Drink: Nutty Tarts make it a double win

THE Nutty Tarts have made it two in a row after picking up the award for Best Producer at The Hunts Post Food and Drink Awards on Monday night.

THE Nutty Tarts have made it two in a row after picking up the award for Best Producer at The Hunts Post Food and Drink Awards on Monday night.

A little more than a week ago, the Eynesbury-based company – which has grown from a home-run operation into a full-scale business that has doubled its number of employees – was given the Judges’ Award in The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards.

It is a remarkable success story which has seen the company’s delicious cakes and biscuits find their way into the shelves of Waitrose, and the mail orders fly out of the door.

Set up by mums Rachel Warwick and Deborah Armiger six years ago, it is the second year the cake and biscuit company has scooped the award.

Mrs Warwick said: “The products speak for themselves really. We have always stuck to the same ethos – we use the best ingredients we �possibly can, we use locally-sourced ingredients and we always make in small batches of eight to 12.

“They are recipes that we have used since we were children and since we had children.”

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The pair met in the playground, as their children attended the same reception class, and got baking initially for a school fundraising event.

Mrs Warwick said: “Deborah said she was going to have this stall and I said ‘Can I come in with you?’ The event was cancelled, but from there we decided to do it as a business.”

The awards were the fourth year that The Hunts Post and Huntingdonshire District Council have organised the event and, once again, they were a fantastic celebration of the great food and drink on offer in this district.

The winners this year included the Old Bridge in Huntingdon, the White Horse in Tilbrook, �Fullards Farm and Landins of Kimbolton.

There was also an award for Charlotte Hutton, who won this year’s Young Chef Competition, which is sponsored by the Marriott Hotel, on �Saturday at the Saxongate Centre in Huntingdon (see facing page).

The awards were presented at the Old Bridge Hotel in Huntingdon on Monday night at an event hosted by the BBC Look East’s Amanda �Goodman. The first winner of the evening was Fullards Farm in the Best Breakfast category – an award open to B&Bs, guesthouses and hotels as well as caf�s and pubs which serve up a superb breakfast using ingredients grown and sourced locally.

The shotlisted finalists included Johnson’s Tea Rooms in Oldhurst and Pop Bellies of Huntingdon, which were both highly praised for the quality of their food and service.

But it was Fullard’s Farm, set in an 18th century listed building in Woodhurst, that won the day, impressing the judge, Bill Hensley of HCRfm – a breakfast show presenter – with its service, quality produce, vegetarian option and a wide selection on the menu as well as presentation.

Owners Neil and Annabel Farbon said it was an unexpected win.

“We like to use as many local ingredients as �possible in our breakfasts,” said Mr Farbon. “Everything we serve for our cooked breakfast is local with the exception of the baked beans and butter.”

In the Best Food Producer category the Nutty Tarts took the honours against finalists including Little Common Preserves of Sawtry, Great Gidding Cake Company, and Cambridge Chilli Farm.

Judge Nick Markwell, who writes food reviews for The Hunts Post, opted for the Nutty Tarts, which he described as a well-run business which keeps an eye on environmental impact, uses local produce and creates consistently tasty products.

The Independent Retailer category was contested by Number 12 of Spaldwick, Landins of �Kimbolton, and the Old Bridge Wine Shop, and was judged by Faye Johnson from Waitrose in St Ives.

She praised Landins for the presentation and quality of its produce and said customers were spoken to in a courteous, friendly manner and dealt with in a professional, inviting way. Nothing was too much trouble, and regular customers were acknowledged by name.

The shop was well laid out and some items on the shelf were highlighted as items of the week, giving customers information about taste, origin and price.

Hugh Burton, of Landins, said winning had a special significance.

Mr Burton has run the specialist grocery store since his wife and store founder, Liz Burton, died two years ago.

The former banker choose to keep the store going in her memory. He paid tribute to his staff and Liz’s mother Betty Gill, the store’s cook, for all their hard work.

He said: “The staff are brilliant. It is a fun place. We know a lot of people who come in regularly and we know them by name.

“If people get out of the store within 10 minutes, it’s a shame because we like to talk to them about their dinner party. We try to provide a personal shopping experience.”

Always among the most competitive of awards, the pub of the year for 2010 was the White Horse in Tilbrook.

From dozens of nominations, the Axe and �Compass in Hemingford Abbots, the Queen’s Head, Needingworth, and the Golden Lion, in St Ives, were the three other pubs to make it through to the finals.

But the award, sponsored by Anglian Water, went to the White Horse, a village pub that was described as a relaxing place with a great menu and decent, reasonably priced selection of drinks.

The judges said the pub won “by a nose with its ultra local sourcing of food, superb cooking and for the fact all sections of the community were so clearly welcome”.

The last of the awards was for Restaurant of the Year.

The 2009 winner, The Barn at Pidley, was once again on the shortlist alongside the Cock at Hemingford Grey and the Old Bridge.

Cllr Julie Dew, from Huntingdonshire District Council, presented the award to the Old Bridge after the judges said it had a lovely ambience, quick and pleasant service and food that was well presented, even exquisite!