Meet the judges of Hertfordshire Life Food and Drink Awards 2016
PUBLISHED: 09:58 26 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:12 01 November 2016
Judging for the Hertfordshire Life Food and Drink Awards 2016 has started, so it’s time to meet our esteemed panel
Nominations for the first Hertfordshire Life Food and Drink Awards have now closed, with hundreds of venues nominated by our readers across 12 categories from restaurant of the year to best independent food or drink retailer.
Our judges faced the tough task of whittling down the nominations to just three for each category, which were then visited by the judges. The shortlist was announced in November’s issue and an awards ceremony will be held at Sopwell House, St Albans on November 14.
We are delighted to have nine judges with a wide and expert range of food and drink knowledge in the county. From creating delicious food to creating restaurants and reviewing food outlets, they are passionate about the industry, and like Hertfordshire Life, are keen to celebrate the best of the county’s food and drink.
Janey Lee Grace
Janey is an Amazon number one best-selling author, and co-presenter on the UK’s biggest radio show, Steve Wright in the Afternoon on BBC Radio 2. She has twice been voted the number one personality in the Natural Beauty Industry Yearbook and runs training workshops and consultations on Media Breakthrough for small businesses and solopreneurs. She is passionate about healthy and delicious food in the county.
After running a busy farm shop and outdoor kitchen, which was made into a BBC series, Jimmy’s Farm, Tina became a consultant, setting up farm shops and delicatessens. She is now an established food writer, presenter and stylist. Her Humble Herb: A Cook’s Guide to Herbs recipe book series is instrumental in creating her Humble Herb food range. Tina’s recipes feature monthly in Hertfordshire Life and she has demonstrated her recipes globally. She will share her knowledge at October’s Hertford Food and Drink Festival.
Richard is Hertfordshire Life’s food and drink editor. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years, starting with Eastern Counties Newspapers in his home city of Norwich. His other main interests are business and leisure travel, hotels, culture and lifestyle. He has lived and worked in New York, Jamaica and the Seychelles and is now resident in St Albans.
Joseph Sopher is the co-founder of award-winning gourmet popcorn company, Joe & Seph’s. Previously managing director of a large electrical distributor, Joseph launched the business with his wife and eldest son in 2010, winning a number of accolades since, including 29 Great Taste Awards and The Grocer Exporter of the Year.
After running his own marketing and communications business centred around food and hospitality, Graham has worked specifically in butchery and sausages for the past five years. He has had the opportunity to sample and promote food across the world, from street food to fine dining. Graham concedes it’s not a bad way to earn a living!
Working regularly with amazing chefs, food and product producers has given Sharon extensive experience in producing beautiful photographic images. She has always been passionate about food and worked in a number of hotels in South Africa. Surrounded by creative chefs and delicious produce you will always find her at food markets and festivals. She writes the Fine Foodie column for Hertfordshire Life as well as contributing to several online magazines.
Saira Hamilton was a finalist in BBC’s MasterChef in 2013. She won praise from the judges for her Bengali-inspired food and skill with spices. Saira now offers private dining and cookery masterclasses via her company small aubergine. Saira is the food columnist for the Herts & Essex Observer and blogs at sairahamilton.com. Saira’s first cookbooks, Kitchen Favourites with Saira: Chilli, Ginger & Garlic, were published in February 2016.
Harry spent 34 years in the Army working with the Royal Household arranging state and ceremonial hospitality and overseeing the feeding of troops worldwide. He has featured in television programmes such as Saturday Kitchen and MasterChef and was catering manager at the Excel Centre during the 2012 London Olympics. He has been executive head chef at The Grove for four years where he heads up a 90-strong team.
In 2002 Andrei founded Lussmanns with the aim of bringing sustainable dining to the high street. Now with four independent, multi-award-winning restaurants in Herts, he champions all things ethical, accessible and affordable. He is an ambassador for the Sustainable Restaurant Association, a member of the Fish2Fork Chef Club and was named UK Chef of the Year 2016 by the Marine Stewardship Council. Andrei’s achievements have been recognised by The Good Food Guide since 2010, a visit to Downing Street and by being voted people’s favourite in the Independent on Sunday Food Made Good Awards 2016.
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