2024 Taste of Kent Awards winners announced

Leading Kent food and drink producers, farmers and restaurants were amongst those recognised at this year’s Taste of Kent Awards (TOKA), which took place last night (Thursday 13 June) at the Gulbenkian Arts Centre in Canterbury.

Now in its 19th year, the awards – organised by Produced in Kent – celebrate food and drink excellence across the county. 2024’s event was sponsored by a range of local businesses, including head sponsors the University of Kent and Southeastern.

Accolades went to businesses across the county, including ice cream innovators Bears Ice Cream Imaginarium, based in Whitstable, Canterbury craft cider makers Kentish Pip Cider, and dining destination Boys Hall in Ashford.

A panel of judges, led by experienced head judge and food and drink broadcaster Nigel Barden, blind tasted a variety of products from across the county – from Rock oysters and Romney Marsh lamb to Vegetable Curry Buns and Cherry & Hibiscus Gin. 

It was a winning night for Canterbury-based bakery Little Sugar, which took home both ‘Free-From Product of the Year’ and ‘Sweet Bakery Product of the Year’ for its Caramel Peanut Brownie.

Meanwhile, Winterdale Shaw won ‘Cheese of the Year’, Wandering Wayfarer Bacchus 2022 was named ‘Wine of the Year’ and Whitstable Oyster Trading Company took home the ‘Fish or Seafood Product of the Year’ for its Pacific Rock Oysters.

As well as recognising Kent products for taste, a series of awards were made to businesses for their overall contribution, including:

  • ‘Farm of the Year’ – awarded to Kingcott Dairy in Staplehurst
  • ‘Start-Up Food & Drink Business of the Year’ – awarded to Nightingale Dairy in Alkham
  • ‘Kent Community Award’ – awarded to Lily’s Social Kitchen

Nightingale Dairy was recognised for Kent’s first-ever mobile milk vending machine. Launched last summer, it is self-serve, offering fresh milk, milkshakes and frappes, made using milk from the family farm’s herd of rare and native breed cattle in the Alkham Valley.

The special ‘Kent Community Award’ went to Lily’s Social Kitchen for providing employment and training for people with neurodiversity or learning disabilities in Canterbury, Ashford and Maidstone. Work placements and training take place in cafes, coffee shops and a catering business, where local communities can access affordable food.

Produced in Kent CEO Susie Warran Smith said: “This event is the culmination of months of judging and tasting. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our judges and congratulate the worthy winners.

“Time and again, these awards demonstrate the incredible talent, innovation and heritage we have here in Kent. The range of produce we have seen is really quite astounding – we have much to be proud of!”

The Taste of Kent Awards Food and Drink Festival was held before the awards ceremony. After a successful introduction last year, this public event showcases the shortlisted products and enables the local community to taste and buy from the best in Kent.

The awards are made possible because of the generous support of TOKA’s sponsors: Southeastern, The University of Kent, Brachers, Crowe UK, Digitom, EKC Group, Financial Advice & Services Ltd, GrowUp Farms, Jestic Foodservice Solutions, kff, NFU Mutual Ashford Tenterden & Whitfield, Oxbury, Port of Dover, Shepherd Neame, Social Enterprise Kent, Southern Co-op, and the University of Greenwich.

Full list of winners:

Kent Savoury Pantry Product of the Year               

Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil blended with Lemon, Kentish Oil & Condiments, Canterbury 

Kent Sweet Pantry Product of the Year    

No Added Sugar Blackcurrant No Ordinary Jam, Rosemary’s, Maidstone 

Kent Savoury Bakery Product of the Year              

Malaysian Vegetable Curry Bun, Gilda Bakery Ltd, Bishopsbourne, Canterbury

Kent Sweet Bakery Product of the Year   

Caramel Peanut Brownie, Little Sugar Ltd, Canterbury

Kent Confectionery or Snack Product of the Year           

Lamb & Rosemary Crisps, Kent Crisps, Bridge, Canterbury

Kent Cheese of the Year

Winterdale Shaw, Winterdale Cheesemakers, Sevenoaks

Kent Dairy Product of the Year       

Blueberry-Lavender Jam, Meringue Swirl Ice Cream, Bears Ice Cream Imaginarium, Whitstable

Kent Meat Product of the Year

Shoulder of Lamb, S W Doughty Butchers, Doddington, Sittingbourne

Kent Fish or Seafood Product of the Year              

Whitstable Pacific Rock Oysters, Whitstable Oyster Trading Company, Whitstable

Kent Ready Meal or Prepared Food Product of the Year             

Luxury Seafood Platter, The Boathouse Fisheries Ltd, St Mary’s Bay

Kent Non-Alcoholic Cold Drink of the Year          

Sparkling Apple Juice, Biddenden Vineyards, Biddenden

Kent Non-Alcoholic Hot Drink of the Year

Decaf Earl Grey, Bergamia Tea Ltd, Sittingbourne

Kent Free-From Product of the Year          

Caramel Peanut Brownie, Little Sugar Ltd, Canterbury

Kent Spirit of the Year           

Kentish Cherry & Hibiscus, Whitstable Harbour Gin, Whitstable

Kent Beer of the Year             

Lucky Day, Pig And Porter Ltd, Tunbridge Wells

Kent Wine of the Year           

Wandering Wayfarer Bacchus 2022, Wayfarer Wines LLP, Woodchurch

Kent Cider of the Year           

Craftsman, Kentish Pip Cider, Bekesbourne, Canterbury

Kent Independent Retailer of the Year     

Loddington Farm Shop, Boughton Monchelsea

Kent Food and Drink Market of the Year  

West Malling Farmers’ Market, West Malling

Kent Fine Dining Experience of the Year 

The Smallholding, Kilndown

Kent Casual Dining Experience of the Year

Boys Hall, Willesborough, Ashford

Kent Café, Coffee Shop or Tea Room of the Year             

Kin Coffee, Staplehurst

Kent Farm of the Year           

Kingcott Dairy, Staplehurst

Kent Start-up Food and Drink Business of the Year       

Nightingale Dairy, Alkham

Kent Sustainable Business of the Year    

Clock House Farm, Coxheath

Kent Free-From Business of the Year        

A Little Bit Food, Bridge, Canterbury

Kent Community Award       

Lily’s Social Kitchen, Canterbury, Ashford, Maidstone

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