I was very humbled recently to be chosen as the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Eastern Daily Press Food & Drink Awards 2014.
To say I was shocked is the understatement of the year. I was completely and utterly stunned. But once I’d recovered from temporary speechlessness my next emotion was one of great pride.
I’d travelled to the awards at the Royal Norfolk Showground with my good friend and meat supplier Arthur Howell as we’d both been shortlisted in the Best Schools Project category for our work with the catering students at Alderman Peel High School in Wells.
Alas we were pipped at the post by another very worthy project – The Patch in Sheringham – and I’d resigned myself to going home with nothing more than a good night out to show for our efforts.
I must confess I had so little inkling that I might be in line for the biggest award of the evening that I wasn’t paying proper attention when Hugh Lansdell of Hansells Solicitors started describing the winner.
It was only when he mentioned that the person singled out by the judges had travelled from the other end of the globe to be in Norfolk and had two children that my ears suddenly pricked up.
But even then it was only when he mentioned that the winner was prepared to cook anything, even seals (in my BBC World series on Greenland), that it dawned on me he was talking about ‘yours truly’.
I barely remember what I said in my acceptance speech, suffice to say that the rest of the evening was a bit of a blur, and Arthur and I even had to put back the taxi we’d ordered to take ourselves and our wives Jo and Liz home!
Winning such a prestigious award in a county so rich in talented chefs, hoteliers and food and drink producers as Norfolk was a genuine honour, and something I’ll treasure.
Announcing the winner of the award, Hugh Lansdell of Hansells said: “Chris has been at the forefront of food and drink in Norfolk for a long time and in addition to making a huge contribution to the county’s ‘eating out’ scene he has also been instrumental in helping to nurture and train some of Norfolk’s best chefs. His North Norfolk Food & Drink Festival is one of the flagship events of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival and he works hard to enthuse the younger generation about the benefits of eating local, healthy food. His work as a patron has been invaluable to the festival and he is a deserving winner of this award.”