The British food and drink heroes who triumph at The YBF awards are ones to keep a keen eye on. And, says Zoë Perrett (nursing a sore head), they know how to party…
Amuse Bouche loves a party and so, it seems, does restaurateur Robin Gill, who almost single-handedly kept the dancefloor ablaze at The YBFs awards party. Then again, he had a lot to celebrate: his head chef at The Dairy, Richard Falk, took the coveted title of Chef of the Year, whilst Claire Wright of sister venue Paradise Garage triumphed in the box-fresh-for-2016 ‘Front of House’ category.
As you’d anticipate from an occasion celebrating the country’s hottest Young British Foodies, the revelry was fuelled in fine style. In Searcy’s Knightbridge’s ornate sitting room, veggie canapes came courtesy of Planted, Vegetable category winner Newton & Pott’s pickles and preserves accompanied bread and cheese, and cake stands groaning with tiny tartlets evidenced why Glasgow’s Cottonrake scooped the Baking accolade.
Up on the roof, a fountain free-flowed with Johnnie Walker punch; few bothering to heed a nearby sign cautioning ‘don’t drink the Kool-Aid’ as they queued not-so patiently for Street Food category finalist Andy Low & Slow’s oak-smoked wagyu brisket tacos. A floor below, Mac’N’Wild’s venison tartare, Kamm & Sons’ Britz Spritzes, and Fatties’ salted caramel bocaditos offered sustenance to anyone getting their groove on to a playlist of funk classics and nineties r’n’b.
In an industry where awards can often be staid and static, The YBFs is a gloriously riotous celebration of the rookie talent disrupting the British food scene for the better; the party shenanigans the culmination of a serious competition judged by experts who truly know their onions (or indeed meat, or cocktails, or food writing…)
2016’s winners are deliciously diverse – from The Clove Club’s bartender Rob Simpson, to food bloggers Izy Hossack and George Reynolds, to street food hero Freddie Janssen of F.A.T (she of Druid Street Market’s legendary stilton-and-kimchi toastie); from Kingstone Dairy cheesemaker David Jowett to Maxine Thompson, whose Polka Pants chefwear makes women feel chic in the kitchen.
And, with goat meat awareness month #Goatober fast approaching, special mention must go to Cabrito’s James Whetlor, whose Meat category triumph is a timely acknowledgement of just how instrumental one man can be in evolving an entire industry.
Revolution, revelry, and refreshments aplenty – viva The YBFs.