Awards 2020 Finalists: Judges' Comments

Food Podcast or Broadcast Award

(Sponsored by The FoodTalk Show)

The Kitchen Cabinet (Somethin Else for BBC Radio 4; Presenter: Jay Rayner. Executive Producer: Darby Dorras. Senior Producer: Hannah Newton. Producer: Laurence Bassett. Assistant Producers: Rosie Merotra and Jemima Rathbone.)

The Kitchen Cabinet is ‘pure entertainment! This is a slick, light-hearted, enduring, culinary panel show.’ Judges loved the banter between the host Jay Rayner, the experts, and the live audience ‘guaranteed to make you smile and even make you laugh out loud, while picking up some culinary trivia or even solving your cooking dilemmas.’ One judge said that the show ‘delivers an intimacy that invites the listener to join in and discover the lesser-known foodie destinations it visits. New places, dishes and traditions are put firmly on the British food map. A must listen!’


The Food Chain: Down on the farm: Suicide, stress and farmers (BBC World Service; Presenter: Emily Thomas; Producers: Simon Tulett and Clare Williamson)

The Food Chain, said one judge, ‘brings the often unobserved and unsavoury side of the food industry to our notice. How many of us have ever stopped to think or ask, “How dangerous is our food delivery?”’ The jurors were deeply impressed by the revelations about the road: ‘paved with poor working conditions, traffic dangers, financial insecurity and even assault. The work masters are absolved of their responsibility by giving, sub-contractor status to the work-hungry drivers and riders.’ In the Food Chain ‘we meet corporations, individuals and experts giving us a wider picture that emphasises the interconnectedness of our modern food practice. This is critical investigative journalism at its most original and best, gripping and edgy.’


Cereal (Farmerama Radio; Presenters and producers: Katie Revell, Jo Barratt and Abby Rose)

There is no end of unstinting praise for Cereal. ‘It takes us on a compelling journey where we are given staggering amounts of knowledge about bread and grain. Never overwhelmed, we remain hungry to hear more from the caring small-scale growers, producers, scientists and food system experts that we meet on the way.’ The judges also note that the podcast’s focus on wheat ‘could likely be extrapolated to many other crops facing the “crisis of uniformity.”’ And interlinking the episodes offers ‘an every-which-way narrative that fascinates, educates, inspires and draws an irrefutable line under the grain farming debate.’


Food Writing Award

(Sponsored by Cawston Press)

Lucas Oakeley for work published in Foodism magazine, 1843 Magazine

Lucas Oakley’s feature-length pieces in both these London-based magazines ‘had a good narrative and were nicely food-focussed. His writing style is accessible, intelligent, and often very funny.’ Judges found that ‘the articles covered an interesting range of topics giving us a nicely balanced selection with plenty of well-researched background.’ The whole jury ‘particularly enjoyed his article on Russia, which was both amusing and interesting and also made good parallels with other food cultures.’


Olivia Potts for work published in Slightly FoxedThe GuardianGraziaThe Spectator and Glamour magazine

Outstanding prose style featured prominently in the comments on Olivia Potts’s work. ‘Her writing flows effortlessly along, being both down-to-earth and personable. Her use of interesting language and her turn of phrase makes her work a pleasure to read; indeed, she brings to life the idea of food writing as an art form.’ But content weighed just as heavily as style in the abundant praise for her work. ‘Her stories were well-researched, inspiring and sometimes amusing. We especially liked her thoughtful piece on cooking through grief, and her balanced appreciation of Jane Grigson.’


Mark Riddaway for work published in Market Life

Market Life is the official publication of London’s famed Borough Market, and Mark Riddaway is its editor as well as one of the writers. One juror wrote: ‘Mark’s writing has real warmth. It’s full of interesting facts injected with nice touches of humour – we laughed and were informed at the same time which is not always easy to achieve. For example, he describes the flavour of St Nectaire perfectly and then turns it into an amusingly typical British story.’ The jury said that ‘Mark researches his subjects well and it was difficult to find fault with his absorbing articles.’


Recipe Writing Award

(Sponsored by Gold Top)

Felicity Cloake for work published in The Guardian’s Feast

‘It would be hard not to be impressed with the sheer volume of research that has gone into each of FC’s recipe features, classic recipes from several credited sources, all tried and tested, then deconstructed and put back together with the very best combination of ingredients and the most competent method of making it.’ One judge wrote: ‘You feel as a reader that you are in very safe hands.  Particular favourites were her Gypsy Tart, which some jurors hadn’t eaten since their school days and yearned for a slice immediately, and the Christmas leftover turkey curry with the addition of Brussels sprouts. ‘Why have I never thought of this’ wrote one judge. Each recipe is well explained in a step by step method, with plenty of suggestions for using alternative ingredients throughout, as well as serving suggestions for each.


Georgina Hayden for work published in delicious. Magazine

All five judges were in complete agreement on the sheer originality and tastiness of GH’s recipes, packed with delicious goodies which all looked and sounded delicious. Her ingredient combinations are highly innovative and ‘we found ourselves wanting to try several of her ideas.’ Her recipes are full of useful tips and extra information about suppliers for more unfamiliar ingredients. Her Meze article was a particular stand-out; one judge wrote that ‘her sense of place shines through.’ But one recipe in particular from her Take it Slow feature, whole roasted celeriac in porcini butter, ‘would have had us all running out the door in search of whole celeriac were it not for lockdown!’ The judges also praised Hayden’s writing style for being ‘friendly and relaxed, but informative and competent.’


Thomasina Miers for work published in The Guardian's Feast

Thomasina Miers presents seasonal recipes, all twists on classics, with ‘concise, friendly scene-setting introductions’ in ‘a confident writing style.’ The judges found her recipes to be ‘clear and well informed’, and her ‘simply structured’ methods easy to follow. ‘Ingredients aren’t extravagant and yet she manages to achieve five very noteworthy recipes with clever flavour combinations.’ Apple, Prune and Brown Butter Tart was a favourite with the judges, and her tip for grating pastry into a tin (thus making a rolling pin redundant) has already been adopted by one of the panel. ‘And for the rest of the week’ notes alongside each main recipe gives the reader extra tips and alternative suggestions using key ingredients or leftovers from the main recipe. ‘We particularly liked her idea of eating up leftover Bobotie (a family heirloom recipe) as a “killer” jacket potato filling.’


Restaurant Writing Award

Jimi Famurewa for work published in the Evening Standard's ES Magazine

This was a closely contested category, with little to separate the three finalists. Judges commented that Jimi Famurewa ‘brings every dining experience, good or bad, to life’ in a ‘very refreshing, concise style.’ They admired him for being ‘in tune with all that’s wonderful, bonkers and unique about the capital’s dining scene, and London life in general.’ Top marks were also given for the way he demonstrates great attention to detail while also being “sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.” One juror remarked: ‘Jimi is blessed with merciless, forensic insight. This is the right man in the right place at the right time. A hugely readable talent.’


Kathryn Flett for work published in The Sunday Telegraph

The jurors regard Kathryn Flett as ‘a unique voice.’ One said of her that ‘in no time at all, you feel you know her well, and really like her. She reveals numerous personal details; she really lets you into her life. But it’s not remotely me-me-me; the food and all the other components of the restaurant experience always takes centre stage.’ Judges also commented on her use of relevant popular culture references ‘which bring a smile to your face’, and one singled out her ‘fabulous, even rhythmic, phrases like: “an unpretentious, life-enhancing, cockle-warming gaffe.”’ And another judge praised her ‘wonderful debunking of pretension.’


Tim Hayward for work published in FT Weekend Magazine

Tim Hayward was described by judges as ‘the epitome of brevity, one of the most important components of the art of restaurant reviewing.’ Another juror, enthralled by his ‘comedic, acerbic, forensic turns-of phrase’, cited one description of a dish as an example: ‘there was something delicate and beautiful in there but it had turned up to dinner wearing a heavy duffel coat and combat boots.’ As a restaurateur himself, he has an ability to ‘analyse dishes – why they work, why they don’t – which is second to none.’ And ‘the same is true of what’s right – and wrong – about restaurants. His confidence, born of massive experience, beams through.’


Drinks Writing Award

(Sponsored by Seven Crofts – Highland Liquor Co)

Pete Brown for work published in Full Juice magazineOntrade Progress magazineFine Food Digest: High Spirits supplement and Original Gravity

There was an abundance of praise for the work of this distinguished beer specialist. ‘I liked “Intoxicated” – it made you feel intoxicated!’ Another judge said that he ‘writes well and engages the reader with his fresh style. Yet another praised Brown’s ‘palpable love of his subject. Whether he was detailing history or process, or introducing us to a well-chosen and interesting maker, it was always possible to taste the drinks in question. I particularly liked his wonderful hymn to intoxication, an aspect of alcoholic drinks that is a key part of the drinker’s motivation and enjoyment, and yet is so rarely addressed except in detailing percentages. Here is a writer able to nerd out with the best of them, and also human and honest about this side of the joy of drink.’


Nina Caplan for work published in New StatesmanDecanterThe Times and The Guardian

The judges loved Caplan’s ‘high-calibre’ wine-writing, published in a range of diverse publications, because it’s ‘well researched, but she wears her research lightly.’ The writing draws you in - it is so much about the subject not her.’ Another judge wrote: ‘I am almost teetotal, and have little or no personal interest in the subjects of these articles, and yet I wanted to read them beginning to end. Each piece reads like a story, and I could taste the wines! I particularly enjoyed her alternative celebratory take on champagne, detailing the history of its female makers.’


Alice Lascelles for work published in FT Weekend Magazine

The judges call Lascelles’s writing ‘lovely, well researched and authoritative.’ It had the unfailing quality of ‘making you want to read on’ with its ‘elegant prose style which indicates an inquisitive mind’ and its ‘refreshing takes on much-covered topics’ which showed them in a new light. One juror spoke of her work as ‘wonderfully tempting writing. In addition to each piece being highly informative I not only wanted to read on, but longed to step into the worlds they described and taste alongside the writer.’


Investigative Food Work Award

The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World by Amanda Little (published by Oneworld Publications)

The jurors said of this book that is ‘well researched with case studies from around the world.’ They admired the way Amanda Little ‘weaves personal interviews with hard facts to unveil ways to make our future more sustainable.’ With chapters ranging from how robots are transforming agriculture to how ancient ‘superfoods’ have the potential to restore our nutritional integrity, ‘this is a timely and tightly written investigation into what it will take to feed us in the future as the planet’s climate and population changes.’


Jonathan Nunn for work published in Eater London

The jurors said that this is ‘descriptive reportage at its best which covers aspects of food and society, and time and place, in a way we don’t often see.’ They add, ‘Jonathan’s pieces are instrumental in bringing a number of highly relevant and important issues to the forefront and make fascinating reading about the demise of food cultures and community.’


Cereal (Farmerama Radio; Presenters and producers: Katie Revell, Jo Barratt and Abby Rose)

‘Engrossing, absorbing and enlightening’ this is how one juror described the work of Farmerama Radio, a small group of campaigners dedicated to ‘sharing the voices of smaller-scale farmers.’ With a thoughtfully chosen subject they produced ‘a very informative series of programmes about bread, a staple of our diet traditionally made with just four ingredients – flour, salt, water and yeast.’ With ‘first-rate’ interviewees answering questions about wheat and the agribusiness behind industrially made bread, the programme makers ‘assume an educated and committed audience which makes for compelling listening.’


Food Magazine or Section Award

(Sponsored by Lakeland)

delicious. Magazine (Editor: Karen Barnes)

Aiming to inspire readers with its winning combination of recipes, general features, tips, and practical information. ‘Delicious makes a point of being different to its peers.’ It caters for an experienced crowd, said one judge, and ‘I like that recipes and features assume a friendly level of prior knowledge and capability’. Another remarked: ‘food team tips are a nice touch and the loose ends item is good because you always have odd bits left when following a recipe’. Commenting on one particular item in this year’s entry, the jury said that ‘one of the most impressive issues is “Delia Celebrates 50 Years.” It is testament to the magazine’s profile that Delia chose to celebrate this milestone with delicious.’


BBC Good Food (Editor: Keith Kendrick)

Judges said that Good Food ‘appeals to all levels of expertise, and it is particularly impressive that the magazine, now in its 31st year, continues to be fresh and innovative.’ The magazine ‘pulls you in with wonderful design and photography’, and provides ‘a really good read from beginner to experienced cook.’ Judges commented on the useful index, nutritional information, seasonal and budget-focused recipes. One said, ‘this is the publication I keep going back to time and time again.’ Another commented: ‘It is a publication that is impossible to put in the recycling bin!’ (High praise indeed.) Judges also liked the way the magazine ‘interacts well with its readers and keeps up to date with dietary needs and food trends.’ And one judge said that whether you seek ‘a reference point, recipe source or just something cheering, BBC Good Food will come up trumps’.


The Dish, inside The Sunday Times Magazine (Editor: Lisa Markwell)

As the Sunday Times magazine food section, judges observed ‘The Dish retains its own identity and stands out in its own right’. Confident in its readership, it combines ‘excellent moody photography and clean design with intelligent writing.’ With short, informative articles on trends and new ways of using ingredients, ‘The Dish presents topics in an interesting, fresh way’ and ‘provides plenty of light Sunday reading’. Judges remarked ‘The Dish presents a very entertaining mix of food news, celebrity interviews and recipes, trends and in-depth features.’ They also said ‘this is the kind of publication that you read cover to cover. It has loads of personality and panache’.


Online Food Writing Award

(Sponsored by Peter's Yard)

Nicola Miller for work published on Tales From Topographic Kitchens

Miller’s work won high praise from all the judges, one of whom called it ‘a truly informative blog for any food lover inspired by the history of food and its origins.’ Another said that ‘her style is evocative without trying to be too descriptive for the sake of it, and I love the way she mingles food stories with history as well as her own family memories.’ Another valued ‘the informative yet unpretentious way she writes… her knowledge is broad, and she still always manages to write in a respectful and engaging manner.’ Another called her ‘funny, original and clever. This stood out for the characterful quality of her writing and the depth of knowledge of food and books. Also the sheer, greedy love of food and cookbooks gives a great zest to her work.’


Ed Smith for work published on Rocket and Squash and rocketandsquash on Instagram

‘Ed is a very capable writer’, said one judge ‘words seem to flow out of his pen with no effort at all. But luckily this results in captivating reads, beautifully illustrated.’ The range of his work impressed another judge, ‘from his writing to the accessible and delicious sounding recipes he posts. Most people specialise in either food writing or recipes, but Ed covers both aspects well.’ Another called him ‘clever and polished, someone who really knows his way round a kitchen and a restaurant menu. The recipes were simple, achievable, grounded in a good understanding of ingredients.’ The interaction between text and pictures was also a high point for another juror: illustrations delightful and texts written with a cheeky Ed twist. A formative guide to eating out and in with recipes and dining out.’


Aaron Vallance for work published on 1 Dish 4 The Road

‘Reading Aaron’s writing was just like listening to a friend’, wrote one judge. ‘His way of storytelling is familiar, interesting and relatable.’ He ‘blends evocative family memories with food writing in essays that need time so you can read them carefully. Each posting is a story crafted to bring the reader much more than just a recap of a meal.’ He ‘writes about feelings in depth, when dealing with issues or a review.’ Another judge echoes that sentiment: ‘At its best, there’s a real emotional depth to his work. The evocative power of food is a recurrent theme and one which obviously means a lot to him personally. There is a creative, playful – sometimes whimsical – aspect to his food writing.’ He is ‘a joy to read.’


Inspiration Award

(Sponsored by Comté Cheese)

Sally Brown and Kate Morris (Flavour School and My World Kitchen)


Barny Haughton (Square Food Foundation)


Jack Monroe (


Alicia Weston (Bags of Taste)


Chris Wilkie (Plan Zheroes)


First Book Award

The Vinegar Cupboard by Angela Clutton (published by Bloomsbury Absolute)

The judges called this ‘a killer combination of exhaustive research, thoughtful writing, clever design, appealing recipes and first-rate photography.’ That combination earned this book ‘full kudos and a place of honour on the judges’ bookshelves.’ One commented: ‘I didn’t realise how little I actually knew about vinegar – until now.’ Another summed it up as ‘an erudite history of an ancient ingredient.’ All the judges agreed that this is a book to refer to again and again – but is so much more than simply a reference work.


A Cheesemonger's History of The British Isles by Ned Palmer (published by Profile Books)

Polymath author Ned Palmer found his ultimate vocation in the cheese cellar of Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. ‘His knowledge of British and Irish cheeses is as deeply rounded as a mature farmhouse cheddar and as rich as a Stinking Bishop’, and ‘his writing is entertaining and illuminating.’ As one judge succinctly expressed it: ‘What a great book about cheese: a true turophile book for Britain. Lovely to read and a great source of knowledge.’


Dishoom: From Bombay with Love by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar and Naved Nasir (published by Bloomsbury Publishing)

This is a beautifully produced book with a clever conceit: a day spent in the city of Bombay, ‘feasting on breakfast, snacks, refreshments and three dinners plus pudding, discovering the city’s history and flavours – largely through its classic “Irani” cafes.’ Judges praised the book as ‘a visual extravaganza, with colourful, evocative photography and crave-worthy recipes that taste stunning.’ One wrote that ‘the writing is precise and unfussy yet is lyrical in its loving description of the city of Bombay and its history.’ A remarkable achievement from this well-loved London restaurant group.


Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina (published by Mitchell Beazley)

Siberian-born Alissa brings a fresh and poignant voice to this ‘stylish, coolly evocative collection of recipes and stories’ from her home in Russia’s vast north. Alissa’s words are ‘set off by beautiful photography and styling’, creating a wonderful package for serving up ‘exciting new territory for culinary exploration.’ One impressed judge nailed it by saying: ‘It’s wonderful to read; it’s got passion, it’s got history and I feel like I know Alissa having read it. Lovely. It’s now a favourite.’


How We Fell in Love with Italian Food by Diego Zancani (published by the Bodleian Library)

How do we love Italian food? This clever book by an Italian-born Oxford professor attempts to count the ways. ‘It’s big on history and social history, deftly moving between topics as diverse as food in Roman Britain, Dickens in Italy and Elizabeth David on courgettes.’ Judges praised it for being ‘exhaustively researched but approachable’, and loved the way this book ‘most definitely went further into the why and how we became obsessed with Italian food.’


Food Book Award

(Sponsored by Westmorland)

Burma: Food, Family & Conflict by Bridget and Stephen Anderson (published by Ma Khin Markets)

This is surely one of the most original food books of recent years, ‘an enthralling, entrancing read, more than just a family memoir’ even if family history plays a central role in it. The book ranges extensively through the history of this troubled country while also providing ‘inspiring, delicious recipes interspersed amidst the wonderfully fluent story-telling.’ Another juror said that ‘the writing is warm, vivid and sensory, and is further brought to life through historical family photos.’ It’s ‘a tale of love, loss, despair, tragedy – and food.’


Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint by Douglas McMaster (published by Leaping Hare Press)

Silo, in East London, is Britain’s first zero-waste restaurant, and this fascinating book sets out the vision and the methods behind what it does. Judges described it as ‘an unprecedented, inspiring, stand-alone book’, taking readers on ‘a fascinating journey to achieve zero waste.’ It’s ‘trailblazing, exciting, relentless and uncompromising’ and made all the more valuable because ‘the author is also not afraid to include his failures too.’ In the end, said the jurors, ‘the book leaves you in no question about his revolutionary approach to cooking as his thoughts are conveyed with true conviction and diplomacy.’


Delicioso: A History of Food in Spain by María José Sevilla (published by Reaktion Books)

This history of Spanish food, written by one of the UK’s greatest authorities on this subject, is praised for being ‘academic yet thoroughly accessible’, and ‘a compelling read that is surely set to become a classic scholarly work on this fascinating subject.’ One judge ‘particularly loved chapter two, about the culinary influence of Arab settlers, blended with Sephardic Jews and Christians. This is something that cannot be underestimated in shaping Spanish and in fact pan European food.’ Admired by all judges as being ‘so well researched, clearly and beautifully written’, Delicioso may well be ‘the definitive history of food in Spain.’


The Forager's Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvest by John Wright (published by Profile Books)

The judges called this ‘down- to-earth, amusing, intelligent and insightful – a concise, practical field guide for foraging enthusiasts.’ Containing a monthly summary of where to find your ingredients and how to prepare and cook them, it’s written ‘with unique authority and clever humour, never undermining a forensic attention to detail’, and was praised in particular for being ‘surely the only book of its kind to have an entire chapter on poisonous species – so the reader also is aware of the plants not to forage.’ Best of all, this is a book not just for experienced foragers but ‘will encourage us to forage both near home and further afield.’


International or Regional Cookbook Award

(In partnership with Maple from Canada)

Mandalay: Recipes and Tales from a Burmese Kitchen by MiMi Aye (published by Bloomsbury Absolute)

‘This is a deeply serious book’, wrote one juror, ‘and the opening pages make riveting reading with MiMi letting us into her family secrets and memories.’ This book offers ‘an evocative snapshot of Burmese culture and cuisine.’ Not only does MiMi’s unpretentious and engaging food writing make it ‘a great read, her recipes all sound and look delicious.’ Intrigued by the use of canned fish and the story of MiMi swinging in her grandfather’s sarong, one judge tried Popo’s Pilchard and Tomato Curry and pronounced it excellent. Another judge liked the section on fritters, while a third remarked on the transformations of everyday chicken in the section on chicken and eggs. There is also a ‘really comprehensive’ glossary of Asian ingredients and an even more useful list of stockists. One judge summed up: ‘this is a cracking cookbook that I’ll be using for years to come.’


The Turkish Cookbook by Musa Dagdeviren (published by Phaidon)

The judges agreed that if you wanted to own just one book on Turkish cooking then this would have to be it. Musa Dgdeviren has compiled ‘a massive compendium’, unique in the English language, that is essentially an encyclopaedia of the country’s multi-cultural and diverse food. ‘It is deeply researched and covers the whole gamut of Turkey’s incredible cuisine.’ The 500 recipes are uncompromisingly traditional and are based on authentic home cooking. One judge especially liked what she called ‘the unyieldingly honest collection of dishes. There are no concessions to long lists of ingredients or complicated methods. There are no modern twists or deconstructed recipes.’ Each section has a fascinating introduction to the history and customs associated with the dishes included, ‘and the whole book manages to convey the Turkish love of sharing good food.’ All the judges agreed that they would definitely give the book shelf space.


The Food of Sichuan by Fuchsia Dunlop (published by Bloomsbury Publishing)

Fuchsia Dunlop’s new take on her much admired classic Sichuan Cooking is ‘an extraordinary book and a definitive work.’ However, it is not just a high quality reference book: ‘it also manages to be a joy to the eye and a great read.’ One judge found it to be ‘a fascinating book’ that had him turning each page ‘to learn the cuisine as a whole rather than just leafing through for recipes.’ Another commented that the descriptions of ‘The 23 Flavours’ in the chapter on Seasonings absorbed her for an entire afternoon. The recipes, too, were felt to be ‘of a very high standard, both accurate and appetizing. Some are extremely subtle, others more obvious in their sometimes numbing spiciness, but all are excellent.’


Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford (published by Murdoch Books)

‘Eleanor Ford’s passion for Indonesia and its cuisine shines through her beautiful and picturesque writing.’ Not only does she capture the sights and sounds of the region, she also understands the flavours. ‘The book includes really useful guides to authentic ingredients, including a recipe for Bumbu, the spice base for so many dishes, and there are some very useful “kitchen tips.”’ The jurors also appreciated the way the chapters are arranged: ‘by the texture and character of the dishes, for example Dry and Aromatic, rather than by ingredients or the way they might be served.’ And they liked the wealth of authentic recipes. One juror remarked that she had marked so many recipes to make that she would not be deterred from ferreting out all the correct ingredients. ‘This gripping book is particularly welcome as there has been so very little written about Indonesian food in recent years.’


Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina (published by Mitchell Beazley)

This ‘intriguing and original’ book celebrates the food and cultural heritage of Alissa Timoshkina’s home country, Siberia, and showcases the many local and international influences that have gone into its development before, during and after the Soviet era. ‘She offers a very personal approach with reference to her family heritage and her own likes and dislikes, often with a modern twist. The recipes seem deceptively straightforward to the Western eye using very familiar ingredients but with unfamiliar flavour combinations and delicious results.’ The trio of vegetable patties are good examples; one judge could not resist the Squid Poached in Smetana Sauce; and Chicken with Prunes, inspired by the fare of Soviet Cosmonauts, also scored well. ‘This is a sparkling and warm hearted book, beautiful to look at, leaf through and come back to.’


Specialist or Single Subject Cookbook Award

Crumb: Show the dough who's boss by Richard Bertinet (published by Kyle Books)

The judges praised this as ‘a practical, clear and straightforward guide written by a successful professional baker who runs well known courses in bread making as well as supplying some of the finest restaurants in UK as well as selling in his shops in Bath. One judge said: ‘What really stood out was the step-by-step photographs at the start of the book (no fewer than 52 for a simple baguette recipe).’ Another thought the star of the book was Fougasse with Gruyère, lardons and caramelised garlic. Yet another praised the book thus: ‘Step by step guides leave no doubt as to what is needed, but the point is made that if you give same recipe to several people everyone will get a different result due to interpretation.’ The jury also thought that the author was well served by ‘outstanding design, presentation and photography.’


The Vinegar Cupboard by Angela Clutton (published by Bloomsbury Absolute)

‘At last a serious book on vinegar, a much ignored store-cupboard ingredient. There was a broad sweep that included history, regions, storage and methods of production alongside useful culinary-focused additions such as flavour profiles and acidity levels. It definitely encouraged me to explore more vinegars.’ But the technical details and historical background are by far the only attraction here, said another judge. ‘The “pot roasted brisket with balsamic and honey” was a tender melt in the mouth triumph. This one recipe justifies buying the book.’ Yet another judge was keen on the recipes: ‘throughout the book they are imaginative yet within most cooks’ abilities and smart enough to appear at a sought-after restaurant.’ The vinegar flavour profiles, charts and analyses ‘show serious comprehensive research’, making this ‘a must have book for any serious chef, cook or food writer… it is a true classic book on the subject.’


Super Sourdough: The foolproof guide to making world-class bread at home by James Morton (published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd)

Much has been written about this increasingly popular bread method, but ‘it is good to get a clear descriptive book on the subject. I liked the writing style – fun, not too formal and easy to understand. Above all it was reassuring and positively oozed with enthusiasm and encouragement to have a go and learn a new skill.’ One juror called it ‘a comprehensive book’ and appreciated its ‘explanation of the bread vocabulary.’ And all the judges were impressed by the 10 Tenets of Sourdough, along with the step-by-step photos explaining the various processes. ‘Once you have mastered the starter, the instructions are clear and straightforward.’ The cornmeal recipe was particularly liked by two of the judges. ‘A very useful book for both the beginner and the seasoned bread maker. It has a delightful authorial voice.’


General Cookbook Award

(Sponsored by Thermapen®)

Bazaar: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes by Sabrina Ghayour (published by Mitchell Beazley)

The judges applauded this book of vegetarian recipes written with the omnivore in mind. ‘This was the only vegetarian or vegan cookbook presented to do this, and I think it’s an important viewpoint.’ Another judge said they ‘felt held by this book and its demand for attention was even felt from across the house. I found myself picking it up again and again after I’d first and second looked at it.’ There’s plenty of praise for the recipes, with one judge loving ‘the twists on the classics – sumac, tomato and garlic toasts for example.’ ‘The open invitation to swap and change ingredients is in keeping with Ghayour’s laid-back style of writing and her twists on the classics are often bold.’ And her personalized view of vegetarian dishes alongside captivating Persian insights ensured that one judge picked this book up again and again.


From the Oven to the Table: Simple dishes that look after themselves by Diana Henry (published by Mitchell Beazley)

The authors praised this as ‘a collection of useful, reliable ideas for food cooked in the oven, delivered with Henry’s trademark no-nonsense style and steady hand.’ They liked ‘the evocative and intimate stories that season this very good book of practical dishes – meals that the reader can easily imagine cooking.’ One judge commented: ‘the brilliance of putting in a “fancy baked potato” and owning up to it in the recipe intro is exactly what you would expect from this well-known author. Her writing always has integrity, and her recipes are appealing.’ All in all: ‘a valuable addition to the home kitchen.’


Midnight Chicken: & Other Recipes Worth Living For by Ella Risbridger (published by Bloomsbury Publishing)

The judges described this as ‘part-memoir, part-manifesto for finding joy in the everyday acts of cooking and sharing food.’ They were impressed that Risbridger eschews that all-too-common preoccupation with an impressive culinary performance, and focuses instead ‘on what cooking, and eating, can do to make life better.’ They considered the writing to be ‘elegiac, lyrical and full of warmth’, with one saying that ‘the book stayed with me long after closing the final pages.’ And another said: ‘I can think of several people I would give this book to, and I will enjoy taking it down from the shelf over the years and cooking from it.’


Aran: Recipes and Stories from a Bakery in the Heart of Scotland by Flora Shedden (published by Hardie Grant)

This book tells the story of a bakery in the heart of Scotland; ‘aran’ means ‘daily bread’ in Scottish Gaelic. It is ‘a beautiful book, full of stunning recipes and photography. Shedden makes complex things feel less daunting and has a wonderful voice: natural, full of humour and interesting stories.’ The structure of the book around the diurnal rhythms of the baking day from early morning to late night appealed to the judges. ‘Shedden makes complex tasks feel less daunting with a wonderfully natural and humorous voice and an unguarded honesty about working things out.’ One judge said the apple pie was the answer to a two-year search for a Dutch apple pie as good as one she remembers from Amsterdam.


The Little Library Year: Recipes and Reading to Suit each Season by Kate Young (published by Anima) 

‘Young’s book reads as a kind of diary’, both in her collection of recipes, designed to reflect the seasons, and her voracious thirst for finding the perfect book for the time of year. ‘The breadth of Young’s reading is impressive, as is the way she weaves her passion for fiction into her passion for food.’ The judges liked its many shifts between time with the vehicle of food as an anchor, and the tempting recipes. One said it’s ‘a beautifully written, imaginative book and tells a compelling story of a cook, of places both real and imagined, illustrating how the two can merge in the act of cooking and eating.’ Said another: ‘an engaging book full of warmth’, and ‘beautifully written by an original voice.’