BBC Food & Farming Awards 2016: BBC Cook of the Year

TV’s Gastronaut Stefan Gates teams up with chef and food writer Allegra McEvedy to lead the search for BBC Cook of the Year. BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme has opened nominations for the BBC Food & Farming Awards and one of the most prestigious awards will go to an outstanding cook working in an institutional setting (e.g. a school or hospital kitchen, workplace canteen, a nursery, care home, prison or hospice food service).

Stefan Gates, who has spent much of his television career enthusing and educating people about food, will team up with chef and food writer Allegra McEvedy to select the finalists and eventual winner. The cooks they’ll be looking for are often the hardest working people in the food industry, but also the least likely to receive national recognition. For this reason it’s important the judges get to hear about the real heroes, the inspirational people serving delicious and healthy food in a public/institutional setting.

There are thousands of cooks across Britain delivering fantastic food often working to tight budgets and inspiring others to follow their lead, so please help us spread the word and bring in nominations for these unsung heroes
cooking fantastic food. Cooks and caterers can also nominate themselves.

All nominators need to do is go to from January 10th to midnight January 24th.
The best ideas that come through the judging process will be featured on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme and a special edition of the BBC Food & Farming Awards, also on Radio 4.

Over the years judges in this category have recognised people including the school dinner lady, writer and campaigner Jeanette Orrey, who went on to help thousands of school cooks across the UK; Jane Sen of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre was recognised for her ground-breaking approach to care and nutrition. Last year’s winner was Jo Ingleby, whose work in Bristol has led to hundreds of pre-school children having their first introduction to cooking and food skills.
Sheila Dillon, founder of the awards and presenter of Radio 4’s The Food Programme said: “In 2000 we wanted the awards to cast light on unsung heroes. They still do that, but what we now see is the awards actually transform economies and institutions. Prison caterer Al Crisci won in 2005 and went on to found the Clink Charity and transform prison training and inmates to pursue careers in food. The school cooks we’ve recognised over the years
have also gone on to inspire change in other schools across the UK.”

With 9 categories on offer, including Best Food Producer, Best Drinks Producer,Best Local Food Retailer, Best Food Market and Best Street Food/Takeaway, the judging panel are calling for nominations from the public in every part of the UK.
Once the judges have selected a shortlist for each of the categories, they visit each finalist in person. The eventual winners will be announced at the annual BBC Food & Farming Awards ceremony, to be held in Bristol on 29th April.
Shortly after, BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a programme featuring the winners and judges.