Finalists for the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2011/12 have been announced by judges following their deliberations held at the American Express Community stadium in November.

Twenty four of the county’s best food and drink heroes have made it through to make a tasty final line up and will find out if they won at the Sussex foodie event of the year, the Sussex Food & Drink Awards banquet, on 26th January at the American Express Community Stadium, for which tickets are now on sale.

Said Clive Beddall OBE, Chairman of the Judges: “The awards continue to grow in popularity with a record number of people, close to 11,000, voting for hundreds of their favourite Sussex farmers, food and drink producers, young chefs, food/farm shops, butchers, eateries and farmers markets.

“We have seen a record number of different businesses and individuals receiving votes this year – familiar, quality names have appeared again and we are excited to see many new names emerge, proving that these awards are reaching every corner of the county and that Sussex continues to produce some of the UK’s best food and drink heroes.”

The finalists are:

Sussex Food Producer of the Year sponsored by the Southern Co-operative:

· Caroline’s Dairy, Sidlesham, Nr Chichester, West Sussex – last year’s winner

· Daylands Farm, Ashurst, Nr Steyning, West Sussex

· High Weald Dairy, Horsted Keynes, West Sussex

Sussex Drink Producer of the Year sponsored by the Sussex Food & Drink Network:

· Highdown Vineyard, Ferring, Nr Littlehampton, West Sussex

· W J King Brewers, Horsham, West Sussex

· Wobblegate Apple Juice, Bolney, West Sussex

Best Sussex Food/Farm Shop sponsored by the South Downs National Park Authority:

· Cheese Please, Lewes, East Sussex – winners last two years

· Sharnfold Farm, Stone Cross, Nr Pevensey, East Sussex

· Sussex Produce Company, Steyning, West Sussex – finalist last two years, winner three years ago

Sussex Butcher of the Year sponsored by Natural Farms

· Bramptons Butchers, Brighton – finalist four years ago

· S K Hutchings, Partridge Green, West Sussex – finalist last year and 4 years ago

· Westdene Butchers, Brighton, East Sussex – finalist 2 years ago

Best Sussex Eating Experience sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter Solicitors

· The Foragers, Hove, East Sussex – finalist three and four years ago

· Simply Delicious, Bognor Regis, West Sussex – finalists for the last two years

· Tottington Manor, Edburton, Nr Henfield, West Sussex

Sussex Young Chef of the Year sponsored by Natural PR

· Craig Holden, The Mill House Hotel, Ashington, West Sussex

· Rob Lightbody, Jeremy’s Restaurant, Borde Hill Gardens, Nr Haywards Heath, West Sussex

· Paul Peach, The Horse Guards Inn, Tillington, West Sussex

Sussex Farmer of the Year sponsored by Knill James

· Robin and Kevin Ashby, Willetts Farm, Blackham, East Sussex.

· Steve and Phil Hook, Longleys Farm, Hailsham, East Sussex – winner three years ago

· Jenny & Trevor Passmore, Church Farm, Coombes, Lancing, West Sussex – last year’s winner

Best Sussex Farmers Market sponsored by Harveys

· Lewes Farmers Market, Lewes, East Sussex – finalist last year

· Shoreham Farmers Market, Shoreham, West Sussex – finalist for past four years and winner three years ago

· Steyning Farmers Market, Steyning, West Sussex

The Sussex Food & Drink Awards banquet is to be held for the first time at the American Express Community Stadium on 26th January 2012. The move to this fantastic new venue has been made by organisers, Natural PR, to ensure that demand for tickets can be met as last year’s event was a sell out.

This black tie event promises to be the best yet, starting with a Sussex bubbly and ale reception sponsored by Harveys, followed by a seven course banquet made from the very best local produce by executive chef Fred Tobin and sous chef Neil Paton, including fish, fruits, cheeses and other Sussex goodies.

Said, Paula Seager, MD of Natural PR which organises the awards: “The awards ceremony is always such a fantastic evening and this year’s banquet is going to be a true celebration of the amazing food and drink that Sussex has to offer. A sense of anticipation builds throughout the evening until winners are announced and trophies presented BAFTA-style with host Danny Pike from BBC Sussex. There is nothing contrived or stuffy about these awards, just a lively and fun celebration of our Sussex food heroes.”

Visit the website www.sussexfoodawards.biz to find out how to buy tickets for this fabulous event or call Natural PR on 01273 857242 for more information.