The Manchester Food & Drink Festival Awards have tonight been announced at a glittering gala dinner ceremony held in the majestic Gorton Monastery.
Now in their 22nd year, the much sought-after awards celebrate the restaurants, bars, street food pop-ups, coffee shops and individuals who ensure that Manchester’s food and drink industry is one of the most prolific in the UK.
The winners were decided by a combination of public votes and scores obtained by mystery shop visits from the judging panel. There were 18 awards in total, including two new categories: artisan drinks producer of the year, and vegan offering of the year.
Mana picked up the MFDF award for restaurant of the year, as well as newcomer of the year and premium and fine dining restaurant of the year. The shortlist for newcomer of the year included Dishoom, Erst, Kala, Tast, and Stockport’s The Fisherman’s Table, showing what a strong year it’s been for new openings.
Mana chef Simon Martin also received the award for chef of the year, beating competition from Sam Buckley (Where The Light Gets In, Stockport), Aiden Byrne (Restaurant MCR), Adam Reid (Adam Reid at The French), Omar Rodriguez Marrero (Umezushi) and Miquel Villacrosa (Tast Catala).
The awards follow what’s been a bumper year for Mana following its inclusion in the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards list of the top 100 restaurants in the UK and its entry into The Good Food Guide.
It’s also received knockout reviews in recent weeks from Grace Dent in The Guardian and Marina O’Loughlin in The Sunday Times, who declared: “This isn’t a good restaurant by Manchester standards; this is a good restaurant by world standards.”
The rise of the Ancoats dining scene was celebrated repeatedly, with the casual restaurant of the year award going to Sugo Pasta Kitchen, while bar of the year, presented by acclaimed actor and writer Ian Puleston-Davies, went to neighbour The Jane Eyre. Coffee shop of the year went to Pollen Bakery.
Hawksmoor picked up the award for best front of house and artisan drinks producer went to Manchester Gin, while the award for affordable eats of the year went to Rudy’s for their superb Neapolitan pizza. Pub/craft ale bar of the year went to Sandbar.
The sustainability award was presented by Sair Khan, who joined the cast of Coronation Street in June 2014 playing the role of Alya Nazir, and who last year swapped the cobbles for the jungle in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. It was awarded to Chancellors Hotels.
The award for foodie event or project of the year, presented by talented actor and jazz singer (also known as Coronation Street’s accountant Angie Appleton) Victoria Ekanoye went to Grub, while Unicorn Grocery in Chorlton picked up food and drink retailer of the year.
The awards repeatedly showed Manchester’s dining scene isn’t all about the city centre.
Lily’s Indian Vegetrarian Cuisine in Ashton scooped best neighbourhood restaurant, while Amma’s Canteen on Barlow Moor Road picked up the award for vegan offering of the year. Street food trader of the year went to Grandad’s Sausages.
The Howard and Ruth Award for outstanding achievement, recognising someone who contributed something outstanding to the food and drink industry in Greater Manchester, went to Thom Hethington, CEO of the Northern Restaurant & Bar, one of the founders of the PPA award-winning Restaurant magazine and the 50 Best Restaurants in the World awards, and a speaker, consultant and writer on food and drink in the north.
The 2019 Manchester Food & Drink Festival itself saw over 65,000 visitors to the Festival Hub at its new location of Cathedral Gardens.
The UK’s largest urban celebration of culinary culture saw the likes of Tom Kerridge, Sam Buckley, Simon Shaw and Rachel Stockley create dishes in the Dining Dome as well as events taking place right across the region.
This year’s festival was also the most sustainable with the specially designed I Love MCR MFDF reusable chilly water bottles virtually selling out.
“The talent competing for this year’s Food and Drink Festival Awards credits the thriving hospitality scene in Greater Manchester,” said festival founder Phil Jones.
“Each category is packed with superb quality – thank goodness the public vote decides the final winners. I want to say a huge thank you to every single person who took part in this year’s festival and all those who visited us. It’s been a great couple of weeks of really diverse events.
“Every year I wonder how it can get any better, but it does, so roll on 2020.”
The full list of MFDF 2019 awards winners is available here.