The sixth annual Sussex Food and Drink Awards is open for votes, with a formal launch at the South of England Show, at the President’s VIP Sussex breakfast, inviting the public to choose their local food heroes online at www.sussexfoodawards.biz.

Awards include:

Sussex Food Producer of the Year – sponsored by The Southern Co-operative.

The winner will be a producer of a single food ingredient or a prepared food product, which is delicious and local to Sussex.

Best Sussex Food/Farm Shop – sponsored by the South Downs National Park and Collabor8. The winner will creatively sell mainly Sussex produce and could be a farm shop, gate sale, a farm delivering local produce, a delicatessen or independent local/high street shop.

Best Sussex Eating Experience – sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter.

The winner could be a restaurant, hotel, pub or café which uses and promotes mainly Sussex produce and offers consistently high quality food in an enjoyable atmosphere.

Sussex Farmer of the Year – sponsored by Knill James. The winner will be a Sussex Farmer who has made the greatest contribution to promoting local produce in the county – first round votes should be in by July 29th for shortlisting and voting re-opens in September.

Sussex Drink Producer of the Year – sponsored by Sussex Food & Drink Network.

The winner will be a drink producer whose products are high quality and delicious. New for this year, the three finalists will include one brewery, one vineyard and one producer of non-alcoholic drinks.

Sussex Butcher of the Year – sponsored by Natural Farms. The winner will be a top quality butcher’s which sells and promotes local farmers’ meat and offers that little bit extra in terms of quality and service.

Sussex Young Chef of the Year – sponsored by Natural PR. Aged 25 or under, the winner will be working or studying in Sussex and be passionate about local produce. First round votes by July 15th to decide who goes through to a master-chef style cook off.

Best Sussex Farmers Market – sponsored by Harveys. The winner will sell an exciting and varied range of local produce and offer an experience which shoppers, producers and stall holders really enjoy.

Voting will stay open until October 2nd, when a shortlist will be vetted by a panel of experts, chaired by food industry expert, Clive Beddall OBE. Winners will receive their trophies at the awards ceremony, renowned as the Sussex foodie event of the year, on 26th January 2012.

It will for the first time be held at the stunning new American Express Community Stadium, with a scrumptious seven-course banquet made from the best Sussex ingredients, created by head chef Fred Tobin, supporting Chestnut Tree House, the only children’s hospice in Sussex.

Said Clive Beddall OBE: “Your vote counts, so please do get voting for the wonderful food and drink producers and outlets in our county – and everyone who votes online will be entered into a prize draw to win two tickets to the awards banquet.”

www.sussexfoodawards.biz