The winner of the Love British Food 2017 competition, run in conjunction with Co-op and The Telegraph has been announced as the Ginger & Spice Festival, held in Market Drayton, Shropshire.  This brand-new event which ran from 27-30 September, championed the town’s culinary heritage and historical links to spices, food and gingerbread as well as promoting local food producers, suppliers and other food related organisations and community groups.

The inspired programme of celebrations over four days included an eclectic mix of activities including ‘The Pickles Spice Trail’ in Market Drayton – a competition related to food tastings and questions found in tearooms, cafes, pubs, restaurants, shops and the museum.  As well as a pop up restaurant showcasing British alternatives to spices there was a foraging walk around the town, a spicy street market, cookery demonstrations, educational outreach activities about spices for children and adults, live music and a comedy food show, beer tasting and much more!  Over 60 local organisations took part including the Town Council, local school, St John’s Ambulance, and the local church. Market Drayton Twinning Association also played a big part as did local producers.

Long term supporters of British Food Fortnight, Hampshire Fare and Notts City Hospital Grow Your Own Garden came in as joint second place.

The competition, now in its fifth year, acknowledges the people behind the most imaginative and inclusive celebrations of local food and the harvest. Entries were received from across the country and included restaurant events, community festivals, activities in care homes and initiatives in schools.

Alexia Robinson, Founder of Love British Food said: “We applaud the commitment of the organisers and consumers who never fail to spread the message far and wide.  We are delighted with the high standard of responses to the competition with entries received from schools, care homes, caterers and community groups.  The Fortnight is getting bigger and better every year and we are already planning for next year!”

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges led by The Rt Hon Michael Gove, MP - Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Cathryn Higgs, Head of Food Policy, Co-op Food, Breige Donaghy, Director of Delicious Food, Co-op, Chef Raymond Blanc, OBE, Liz Earle, MBE wellbeing writer and farmer, Ian MacGregor, Editor Emeritus, The Telegraph and Alexia Robinson, Founder of Love British Food.  Together they were looking for events that strengthened the local community, supported the economy and educated the public about British food and eating locally.

Raymond Blanc said: “The entries were amazing and reading each story made me very proud to be involved in British Food Fortnight.   Each entry was clear in its objective – to share what we have around us with others and celebrate food.  To me all the entries were very much winners.”

Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs Michael Gove will be presenting the winners with a special handcrafted award said: “

“The wide range of ambitious applications for this year’s British Food Fortnight competition is testament to the nationwide pride in our homegrown food.

“While all entrants showed tremendous imagination and enthusiasm for championing Britain’s high quality, great tasting food, the Ginger & Spice Festival showed real ingenuity by getting the whole community involved in celebrating the area’s culinary heritage. They are a worthy winner.”

Cathryn Higgs, Food Policy at Co-op said “I loved the way the Ginger & Spice Festival celebrated their culinary history – this is often lost and it’s important we retain these taste links to the past.”

The newly crowned winners will be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Michelin Starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons gardens plus £250 in Co-op vouchers and a case of Co-op award winning ‘Les Pionniers’ champagne.

Runners up will receive a year’s subscription to Liz Earle Magazine: a signed Liz Earle Wellbeing Yearbook and a signed copy of each of Liz’s best selling books The Good Gut Guide and Skin.  Plus £100 worth of Co-op vouchers.