The Guild of Food Writers’s annual awards party is a glittering must-go, this year held at Tamesa in the Oxo tower on the South Bank of the Thames. I was a judge of one of the awards but, shhhh, that’s all I can say about it.
Listen, I rate the Observer’s ethical eco-hero, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for his animal welfare work. But he endeared himself further by making sure (see pic 1) that his fellow author, Nick Fisher, shared the award for The River Cottage fish book. (If you click on that link, read the Amazon review by Henrietta Green of Food Lovers Britain.)
I loved Jill Dupleix‘s wise words on accepting (pic 2) the Miriam Polunin prize for Work on healthy eating. She said: “I look forward to the time when there isn’t a special category for healthy eating and all food writing is healthy.” Yeah, sister, bring it on!
The sustainability theme continued with Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook, which addressed food miles and provenance.
It’s always nice when you agree with the judges. Hattie Ellis won for Planet Chicken. It is a beautifully-written easy-read on a hard subject: how we treat intensively-reared chickens.
Then Bill Buckley announced that the winner (taratara) of the Lifetime achievement award was…Katie Stewart. I took this award personally (again) – The Times calendar cookbook with its seasonal recipes has been a favourite for decades. (See my beat-up food-stained version in pic 5).
An awards ceremony is such an emotional event, I was starving by the end. My hunt for food took me to a quiet part of the room where Katie stood with friends. I am afraid I could not resist asking to be photographed with her (pic 3). She said the Times cookbook was her daughter-in-law’s favourite too because people nowadays want the classics, like toad in the hole.
Then Hugh approached – clearly another Stewart devotee. (I must admit Katie looks happier with Hugh than with me but hey, that’s show biz).
Prue Leith OBE presented the awards. She explained how she gave up cooking to campaign. A champion of real food in schools, she is a woman after my own heart.
This became more evident later. There was a queue for the ladies’ and on Prue’s advice, I used the (empty) gents’ while she stood guard. I liked that – the way she encouraged an unconventional route to get results.