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Are you a champion at celebrating British food?

Raymond Blanc is leading the search for the best celebration of British food during British Food Fortnight and everyone’s invited

The search is on for the most imaginative and innovative celebration of British food during British Food Fortnight, which takes place from 17th September to 2nd October 2016. The judges, led by Raymond Blanc, Liz Truss, The Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, and Love British Food Sponsor Co-op Food, are looking for an event that brings colour to the lives of those taking part and a love of the diverse and delicious food produced in this country. It could be an event for school children teaching them the delights of the food grown on their doorstep; a special British food event organised by a retailer or restaurateur for their community; a gathering for isolated members of the community who are brought together through the joy of enjoying delicious British feast; or even a whole town embracing British food culture.

The competition is open to celebrations, large and small. Past participants include whole towns; Emsworth on the south coast created an entire fortnight of activity; Peterborough in the east a whole weekend. Weston Super Mare in the west and Middlesborough in the north have both taken part by organising their own food festivals. Smaller endeavours are very much encouraged too. Previous entries have included schools using discarded food to create feasts for homeless guests, an international exchange group swapping British recipes and crafts, and care homes that have planted, cared for and harvested produce with their residents.

“We are encouraging everyone to celebrate British food in homes and in neighbourhoods across the land. Individuals, clubs and organisations can all get involved. We have so many opportunities to source, celebrate and be proud of our great British produce so let’s make 2016 another bumper year for British food”. Raymond Blanc OBE.

The competition has a special theme this year: rediscovering long-forgotten traditional recipes that were once unique to particular areas of Britain. A celebration during British Food Fortnight is a perfect opportunity to discover the traditional recipes unique to your region and to use them to involve different members of the community. It’s a great excuse to get all generations talking – older generations are likely to have memories of foods and ingredients seldom seen or prepared today – they may even have their own secret recipes, and younger generations will enjoy discovering, making and adapting these long lost or regional dishes. Staffordshire oat cakes, Bakewell Tart, Bath Buns, Bosworth Jumbles and Chorley Cakes are all examples of regional favourites, plus there are savouries like Norfolk Lamb Parcel, Arbroath Smokies and Yorkshire Solomon Gundy….

Cathryn Higgs, Food Policy Manager at The Co-op said: “Products made in the vicinity of our stores are prized by customers who want to support locally produced regional food which often helps to define a specific area such as Yorkshire. Our vision is to champion a better way of doing business for you and your communities and what better way for us to do this than to support as many locally produced goods as possible. This competition is a great way of re-discovering some of those long lost local products and recipes."

Alexia Robinson, Founder of Love British Food said: “British Food Fortnight is a brilliant opportunity to bring people together to celebrate fresh, seasonal, local produce, and for communities of any size to have a lot of fun. So prepare the table, community hall, village green or town centre, invite your guests, and eat, drink and discover our great British food!”

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “Food is at the heart of British culture – from our amazing chefs to our innovative gastropubs. That’s why we’ve launched 2016 the Year of Great British Food to champion the best of British food at home and abroad.

“British Food Fortnight is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate all we have to offer– whether it’s the seafood from our spectacular coastline or our world-class beef, lamb and cheese.

“I’m thrilled to be involved again this year and I would encourage everyone across the country to use this fortnight to promote our rich food heritage and enjoy the fantastic local produce within their communities.”

The prize

The organisers of the best celebration, as chosen by the judges, will be presented with the Telegraph and Love British Food 2016 trophy, plus an invitation to a very special visit to Raymond Blanc’s hotel, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. Belmond Le Manoir holds Two Michelin Stars and is set within extensive gardens which include an organic vegetable plot, orchards, a mushroom ‘valley’ and herb gardens – an idyllic, typically English setting. The winners will learn how the food gets from plot to plate with a special behind-the-scenes tour of the gardens, with breakfast (terms and conditions apply).

Judging criteria

Judges will be looking for celebrations which:

  • Strengthen the local community, bringing colour to the lives of those from different sectors of society.

  • Educate people, especially children, about British food, eating local and food provenance.

  • Support the economy, encouraging people to visit and buy from British producers and retailers offering British produce.

  • Use new and innovative ways of celebrating British Food. New initiatives or established initiatives with new features are particularly welcome.

The judges

Raymond Blanc OBE

Raymond Blanc is acknowledged as one of the finest chefs in the world. His exquisite cooking has been a major force in Britain’s food revolution over the last twenty years and his hotel and restaurant, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is the only hotel restaurant to have achieved and maintained two Michelin Star Status for over 30 years.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Elizabeth Truss MP is Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Conservative MP for south west Norfolk.

Olivier Blanc

Olivier is creator of Henri Le Worm, an innovative educational app which teaches children about food production and cooking in a fun and appealing way.

Alexia Robinson

Alexia founded British Food Fortnight in 2002 and it is now established annually as the biggest national celebration of British food and has proved to be an important influencer in engaging the retail, catering, education and volunteer sectors and in establishing a more robust market for Britain's food.

Co-op Food

Co-op Food is Official Sponsor of Love British Food 2016 and is a major supporter of British farming and home produced foods, trading with almost 2,000 UK farms and have over 500 suppliers from across the UK. The Co-op directly employs over 70,000 people and are owned by and answerable to 8 million UK shoppers.

How to enter

1. Hold your celebratory event during or around British Food Fortnight (September 17th-October 2nd 2016).

2. Enter by emailing details of your event to before midday on Monday, October 10th 2016. Entrants must describe their community initiative in no more than 500 words, stating what’s new if it is an established event, and including at least two quotes from people attending the event. Entries may be supported by up to three photographs.

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