The Manchester Food and Drink Festival, now in its 23rd year, sadly had to be postponed this Autumn due to the evolving COVID-19 situation in Greater Manchester.
After taking advice from the city’s public health teams, MFDF made the difficult decision a few days before the event was due to start, to postpone until next Spring. The event has been rescheduled for 1st – 11th April 2021.
But tonight, the MFDF Awards still went ahead – though not at the glitzy Gorton Monastery ceremony as planned.
Instead, the awards were live streamed from a virtual awards ceremony at Moda Angel Gardens.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge impact it has had upon the hospitality sector, the 2020 awards were adapted for this year with changes to format and award categories.
Innovation and resilience
The awards celebrated the innovation, resilience, altruism and successes that have taken place within the industry since the last awards, particularly in response to the vast challenges that the sector has faced over recent months.
A host of new categories were created especially for this year, including best DIY delivery food offering, best food and drink box delivery, best innovation, and lockdown heroes.
The shortlists were compiled by the MFDF judging panel, made up of the region’s leading food and drink critics, writers and experts. There was no mystery shopping by the judges this year, with voting carried out entirely by the public via the MFDF website and new app.
The awards ceremony was live streamed, with all nominees invited to watch and wait in a ‘virtual green room’ while their categories were announced.
The Festival was then able to go live to the winners, after they had been revealed by a host of stars who ‘zoomed in’ to the event including Noddy Holder, Clint Boon, John Thomson and Victoria Ekanoye.
“We’re very pleased to be able to recognise our brilliant hospitality sector during this extraordinarily difficult time,” said the festival’s founding director Phil Jones.
“MFDF is proud to celebrate such a wonderful range of businesses and individuals, all showcasing the strong stuff that our local industry is made of.
“There’s been huge amounts of innovation and creativity – even during such a tough time, we’ve much to celebrate.
“Congratulations to all the winners, and nominees – the festival will continue to support the industry however it can over the coming months… roll on April 2021”.
Best online ‘at home’ food and drink content
Sponsored by Moda Angel Gardens, this award recognises the best online food and drink content shared during lockdown by Manchester’s chefs, producers and industry experts.
The winner was Cork of the North, for their live wine tasting masterclasses broadcast via social media.
Best restaurant takeaway adaptation
Sponsored by Just Eat, this award celebrated the restaurants who have adapted their business model, menus and offering to provide a takeaway/delivery service during lockdown.
The winner was Rudy’s Pizza.
Best DIY delivery food offering
Sponsored by Roomzzz Aparthotels, this category celebrated the restaurants, chefs and businesses who have created ‘do it yourself’ recipe delivery meal kits for people to create their own restaurant quality meals/dishes at home.
Best food and drink box delivery
This award recognised the best food and drink delivery boxes created to serve the community with fine food and drink during lockdown.
The winner was ShinDigger Brewing Co, who launched beer delivery boxes available in under three hours.
Sponsored by Hun Wine, this award was all about the most impressive business innovations by food and drink operators during the COVID-19 crisis.
The winner was Stretford Foodhall, for finding innovative ways to serve the community right the way through lockdown – from street food takeaway to free grocery delivery for the vulnerable.
Newcomer of the year
Sponsored by Bulleit bourbon, this award looked at the best new food and drink operations to open in Greater Manchester since the last awards decision period.
The winner was Escape to Freight Island.
Best online veggie/vegan offfering
Spinsored by Meatless Farm, this award celebrated the restaurants and food businesses that have provided innovative and exciting menu options for vegetarian and vegan diners via takeaway/delivery services during lockdown.
The winner was Wholesome Junkies.
Artisan drinks producer of the year
Sponsored by Franklin & Sons, this award recognised the plethora of fabulous local drinks producers, from gins and ciders to ales and meads.
The winner was ShinDigger Brewing Co.
Takeaway coffee experience of the year
Recognising quality coffee takeaways during the COVID-19 crisis, this category was an adaptation of the coffee shop of the year award and only recognises those businesses that were able to stay open via takeaway.
The winner was Ancoats General Store.
Street food trader of the year
This category was about awarding one of the Greater Manchester-based street food legends who have adapted their services to provide takeaways and deliveries during lockdown.
The winner was Oh Mei Dumpling.
Sponsored by the MEN, this award recognised those individuals and businesses who have provided continued support for the wider community, the food and drink industry and Greater Manchester as a whole during the COVID-19 Crisis.
The winner was Eat Well MCR.
Howard and Ruth outstanding achievement award
This special award celebrates someone who has contributed something outstanding to the food and drink industry in Greater Manchester.
The winner was Mary-Ellen McTague from The Creameries and Eat Well MCR.