The Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards (MFDF) took place this evening, Monday 27th September, with 16 award winners announced from food and drink establishments across Greater Manchester.
More than 450 nominees from the region’s hospitality industry came together at The Ticket Hall at Freight Island to celebrate for the first time at such a scale since before the pandemic.
With more nominees than ever before, those shortlisted for an award highlighted a remarkable year for the Manchester dining scene in 2021.
After an extraordinary and uncertain 18 months for the city’s hospitality industry, the MFDF awards set out to showcase as many excellent food and drink businesses and talented hospitality professionals as possible.
The shortlists were compiled by the MFDF judging panel, made up of the region’s leading food and drink critics, writers and experts. The categories were carefully considered and created to reflect an innovative, diverse, and inspiring food and drink industry.
Amidst challenging circumstances for the hospitality industry, the ‘mystery shopping’ element of the judging process was paused this year. Instead, the winners were decided entirely by the public vote – with food and drink fans voting in their thousands via the website.
The awards were the closing finale to a record-breaking year for MFDF, with 80,000 visitors coming to the Festival Hub at Cathedral Gardens over the 11 days of the festival.
“We set out at the festival many years ago to champion Manchester’s talent and innovation, and to put independent businesses centre stage,” said Alexa Stratton-Powell, director of Manchester Food and Drink Festival.
“Now more than ever that is what we all need to do.
“It’s been brilliant to bring people together again at the Festival Hub and the awards were a fitting finale – we were able to showcase and celebrate 120 amazing businesses for a celebration that was well and truly well deserved.”
Restaurant of the Year
Recognising the ‘best of the best’ dining establishments in Greater Manchester in 2021, this category refers to venues visited primarily for a full dining experience featuring table service, alcohol license etc.
Winner: Baratxuri, Ramsbottom
Shortlisted venues: Adam Reid at The French; Baratxuri; Erst; Hawksmoor; Mana; Sparrows; Street Urchin; Where The Light Gets In.
Newcomer of the Year
Recognising the best new food and drink operations to open in Greater Manchester since the last awards decision period (August 2020). Date eligibility: establishments opened between August 2020 – June 2021.
Winner: Ramona, 40 Swan St, Manchester
Bar of the Year
Recognising the best drinking venues in the region that specialise in a “wet-led” offer and aren’t considered ‘pubs’.
Winner: Albert’s Schloss, 27 Peter St, Manchester, M2 5QR
Shortlisted venues: Albert’s Schloss; Henry C; Kiosk; Schofield’s bar; Speak in Code; The Blues Kitchen; The Jane Eyre; Three Little Words.
Chef of the Year
Aiming to recognise the most talented and outstanding work of chefs cooking in Greater Manchester kitchens – their skill, menu, commitment and contribution to the dining scene.
Winner: Rachel Stockley, Baraxturi
Shortlisted venues: Adam Reid (The French); Eddie Shepherd (The Walled Gardens); Mary-Ellen McTague (The Creameries); Patrick Withington (Erst); Rachel Stockley (Baratxuri); Sam Buckley (WTLGI); Simon Martin (Mana); Terry Huang (Umezushi).
Pub or Craft ale bar of the Year
Recognising the finest pub and beer bars in the region, focusing on quality and range of ales, beers and atmosphere.
Winner: Edinburgh Castle, Ancoats
Shortlisted venues: Beatnikz Republic; Cob and Coal; Edinburgh Castle; Heaton Hops; Nordie; Reasons To Be Cheerful; Society; Stalybridge Buffet Bar.
Artisan Food Producer of the Year
Celebrating the fabulous array of food producers popping up around the region including bakeries, picklers, pie makers and everything in between.
Winner: Pollen Bakery, Cotton Field Wharf
Shortlisted venues: Bread Flower; Companio Bakery; Gooey; Holy Grain Sourdough; Just Natas; Lily’s Deli; Manchester Smokehouse; Pollen Bakery.
Pop Up/ Project of the Year
Recognising exciting projects and events and showcasing innovation and creativity within the food and beverage sector.
Winner: Escape to Freight Island, Manchester
Shortlisted venues: Eat Well MCR; Escape to Freight Island; Grub; Homeground; Kampus Summer Guest Events; Platt Fields Market; One Central; MIF Festival.
Neighbourhood Venue of the Year
This award is set to recognise the superb establishments that are based in the suburbs of Greater Manchester.
Winner: Lily’s, Ashton-under-Lyne
Shortlisted venues: Bar San Juan; Levanter; Erst; The Fisherman’s Table; Lily’s; Porta; Oystercatcher; Stretford Foodhall.
Food Trader of the Year
Awarding the Greater Manchester-based food heroes that are gracing our food halls, markets and events with an ever increasing range of gastro goods.
Winner: Wholesome Junkies, High St
Shortlisted venues: Abeja Tapas Bar; Archchi’s; Gooey; Honest Crust; Maison Breizh; Pico’s Tacos; Tender Cow; Wholesome Junkies.
Affordable Eats of the Year
Recognising the best venues that are visited for a high value, quick and simple dining experience.
Winner: Rudy’s, Ancoats and Peter St
Shortlisted venues: Abeja Tapas Bar; Chapati Café; Ca Phe Viet; Little Yeti; Lily’s; Mi & Pho; Platt Fields Market Garden; Rudy’s Pizza.
Coffee Shop of the Year
Recognising the best coffee shops and bars in Greater Manchester.
Winner: Federal, Northern Quarter
Shortlisted venues: Another Heart to Feed; Ancoat’s Coffee; Ezra & Gil; Federal; Grindsmith; Grapefruit; Just Between Friends; Pollen Bakery.
Foodie Neighbourhood of the Year
New for 2021, this award has been set up to celebrate those thriving communities and neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester that continue to build a name for themselves as a foodie destination outside of the city centre.
Shortlisted: Altrincham; Heaton Moor; Prestwich; Ramsbottom; Sale; Stockport; Stretford; Urmston.
Veggie/ Vegan Offering of the Year
This award recognises venues that provide innovative and exciting dining options for vegetarian and vegan diners.
Winner: Bundobust, Piccadilly
Shortlisted venues: Bundobust; Eddie Shepherd (Walled Gardens); Four Side Pizza; Herbivorous; Lily’s; Sanskruti; Wholesome Junkies; Vertigo.
Independent Drinks Producer of the Year
Celebrating the many exciting and innovative producers of artisan drinks in Greater Manchester.
Winner: Manchester Gin, 10-15 Watson St, Manchester
Shortlisted venues: Bundobust; Cloudwater Brewery; Diablesse; Hip Pop (Formerly Booch & Brew); Manchester Gin; Northern Monkey; Pomona Island Beer Brew Co Ltd; Steep Soda Co.
Food and Drink Retailer of the Year
The Best Food and Drink Retailer celebrates the best food and drink shopping experiences in the region.
Winner: Ancoats General Store
Shortlisted venues: Ancoats General Store; The Butcher’s Quarter; Bernie’s Grocery Store; Grape to Grain; Isca Wines; Out of the Blue; Unicorn Grocery; Wandering Palate.
Outstanding Achievement Award
Recognising someone who has contributed something outstanding to the hospitality industry in Greater Manchester.
Winner: Mital Morar, Store Group.