The long-awaited shortlist of finalists for the 2017 Food & Drink Devon Awards has been announced, following months of blind tasting, deliberation and judging. Entries from across the county included 250 products, 63 producers, 65 hospitality and 25 retail establishments, all judged by experts from the industry. The winners will be revealed at a prestigious ceremony at the stunning Deer Park Country House Hotel on Monday 9th October.

Commenting on the high standard of this year's awards entries, Barbara King, Chair of Food & Drink Devon, says: “As an organisation we champion Devon's producers and food and drink industry.  We have been seriously impressed with everything entered this year.  We have so much outstanding produce on offer here in Devon and the quality of hospitality across the board is second to none.” Barbara continues: “We would also like to thank our award sponsors for all their support.” The 2017 sponsors are Luscombe Drinks, Raw PR & Marketing, Peplows, M C Kelly, Black & White Asset Finance, Stephens Scown, Zip Water, Tastebuds, Inkreadible and Hedgerow Print.

In celebration of Devon's best produce, Platinum awards will be given to any of the 250 tasted products given a perfect score of 100%, Gold awards go to products achieving 90-99%, and Silver to those scoring 85-89%.

There's enormous variety this year on the producer shortlist for the Taste of Devon Product award, with everything from shellfish to rare breed meats, artisan spirits and craft beers, ice creams from both North and South Devon plus traditional Christmas puddings represented.

“As customers get all the more discerning, choosing provenance and traceability over mass-produced food and drink, our independent shops and businesses can really shine,” continues Barbara. “Ultimately that is why it is so important we all support our local fishermen, farmers, delis, cafés, chefs and artisans.”

Newly established business Pretty Local takes on two well-known businesses Eversfield Organic and Riverford Organic Farmers in the category for Best Online Retailer.  Best Retailer will be awarded to one of Ashburton Delicatessen, Aune Valley Meat or North Devon's Besshill Farm Shop.  Producers on the Best Packaging shortlist are Bell & Loxton, Hanlons Brewery, Hunt's Cider and Salcombe Distilling Co and the shortlist for the Best Overall Producer includes Devon Distillery, Lyme Bay Winery, Salcombe Distilling and Sharpham Wine & Cheese.

Establishments on the Taste of Devon Hospitality shortlist include Boringdon Hall, Old Vienna and Thurlestone Hotel for Best Fine Dining Restaurant. Vying for Best Restaurant status is Barnstaple's Fat Belly Freds, Il Casita in Crediton and the Pig & Pallet in Exeter. Other categories include Best Hotel Restaurant, Pub Restaurant, Pub, Bistro and Best Café categories, there are three businesses hoping to win Best Street Food:  Open Sesame, the Glorious Oyster and the Teign Canteen.

Businesses on the shortlist list for this year's new categories Best Farmers Market and Best Cookery School include: Crediton, Tavistock and Totnes Farmers Markets and Ashburton and Exeter Cookery Schools and Salcombe Distilling.