Lisburn Baker & Belfast Siblings Triumph In Tiptree World Bread Awards Heroes With Brook Food For Northern Ireland

Cathy Stevenson of the Daily Apron, Lisburn was crowned the winner of the Tiptree World Bread Awards Heroes with Brook Food for Northern Ireland, in a special online awards evening on Tuesday 13 October 2020.

During lockdown Cathy baked for local residents and services, such as the post office and pharmacies. ‘I wanted to bring a little happiness to those who need it at a time when everyone was feeling blue.’ said Cathy, ‘To see the smiles on people’s faces when my red cart pulled up at their door filled me with joy.’

Photo: Cathy Stevenson hard at work. Credit: Henry Kenyon

Belfast siblings, Ashley and Amy French,  were declared runners up for Northern Ireland.

Ashley and Amy French run French Village, a second generation bakery wholesaler with retail outlets. They supply some of the top hotels in Northern Ireland. Ashley and Amy lost most of their customers overnight when Covid restrictions closed the doors of hotels and restaurants.

But they weren’t going to close their doors. In an innovative move, they upgraded their website to introduce an online ordering system and initiated a zero-contact collection and delivery service. At the peak of the pandemic, deliveries averaged 1,200 customers per week.

Amy and Ashley collaborated with other local artisans – such as Bailies Coffee, Draynes Milk and Springmount Eggs – to create an offering of fresh local produce. They also sort out new outlets for their products – such as butchers, farm shops and pop-ups –  to make sure all communities had access to fresh bread.

In normal times, the Awards celebrate the bread; hundreds of loaves would be delivered for assessment by a panel of esteemed judges. Instead, in a special edition for 2020, the Awards recognise the people behind the loaves: the bakers, millers and farmers.

Hundreds of nominations for the Bread Heroes were sent in from across the UK. ‘All the nominees in this year’s Awards truly deserve recognition for their generous, considerate and often altruistic initiatives to help others.’ said Stephen Hallam, Chairman of the Judges.

12 regional winners were selected by the judging panel. One of the judges, Emma Freud, Executive Producer Comic Relief, said,  ‘These nominees were so well found – each of them have done remarkable things for their communities, using their talent with bread to make life easier for people who need support.  It was a seriously tough choice, but I am confident we got the right winners…’

‘The efforts of the bread community during these challenging times have been truly inspiring.’ said Scott Goodfellow, Joint Managing Director, Tiptree, ‘We are delighted that this year’s Awards have been able to shine a light on their incredible endeavours.’

An exhibition of portraits by photographer Henry Kenyon of the 12 Bread Heroes will be touring the UK, including a display at the City Food Lecture 2021, the annual lecture on the future of the food industry, organised by the seven food-related City of London livery companies.