Awards ceremonies can be pretty stuffy. You turn up for the free fizz to find bad canapés, forced mingling, and waffling acceptance speeches from people who really shouldn't be allowed near a microphone after finishing their welcome cocktail.
Not the Young British Foodie Awards. Started in 2011 with the aim of doing for food what the Turner prize did for art, the annual event recognises emerging UK food talent. With categories that span front-of-house, cheffing, and bartending, right through to food writing and butchery, every corner of the British food scene is represented. It has also become a notoriously fun party (and not a vol-au-vent in sight.)
This year, MUNCHIES partnered for a second time with the awards, which took place at Two Temple Place, a gothic mansion on London's Embankment. Guests entered to find a tree hanging with Harrods chocolate, before being led up a chandeliered staircase to a room filled with fine cheeses and cured meat. Downstairs, YBF nominees showcased their wares on tables laden with smoked salmon, food waste hummus, baked goods, and ice cream. We also heard talk of a hidden oyster bar in one of the anterooms.
Members from this year's judging panel, including Yotam Ottolenghi, Grace Dent, and Nuno Mendes, took turns on a velvet curtained stage to announce their category's winner. Alex Harper of Mayfair restaurant Neo Bistro scooped the coveted Chef award, butter maker Grant Harrington triumphed in the Honorary category, and Cornwall's Padstow Kitchen Garden took Vegetables.
The Food Sharing prize, judged by Melissa Hemsley, food Instagrammer Clerkenwell Boy, and MUNCHIES' own Phoebe Hurst, was awarded to photographer and author Riaz Phillips. His project documenting British Afro-Caribbean food communities epitomised the category's celebration of young people who use online platforms to progress food culture. You can see the full list of categories and winners here.
With the awards handed out, it was straight to the gin cocktail bar, via the cheese room and with a quick stop downstairs for (several) salted caramel profiteroles. Same again next year? We think so.
All photos by Liz Seabrook.