Food Scene Column: Celebrating success at the MK Food & Leisure Awards

Hazel Roberts caught up with organiser Steven DrydenHall to find out why hospitality needs recognition this year.

The hospitality sector has certainly been in the news a lot during 2020 and it has taken a beating, but that’s not to say that it is beaten!

In many ways there hasn’t been a lot to celebrate, but the Milton Keynes Food & Leisure Awards made sure that businesses got the recognition they deserved despite these difficult times.

Previous years have seen the awards announced at a glitzy black-tie event in early May but the awards this year certainly looked different.

I caught up with organiser, Steven Dryden-Hall, to find out what it took to put on the awards this year.

As public voting opens in January and closes in April every year, this part was able to go ahead as usual.

Customers were still able to vote for their favourite places to eat and drink in Milton Keynes and Steven said that during that time they received over 10,000 votes.

When lockdown happened, plans were made to move the awards evening to November.

Voting opened again in September for a few weeks and more votes came flooding in, showing that the public were keen to support their favourite businesses.

However, it became clear that the usual meal and social gathering of the awards evening would not be possible. Instead, the announcements moved online.

With host Chris Gregg bringing wit and excitement to the awards, the winners were announced live on Facebook, with all the usual tension of sealed envelope reveals.

Steven said that despite the logistical challenges, it was well worth holding the awards this year.

“Winning an award can only help the visibility of a business and it’s a moment of excitement at a difficult time that helps to recognise the hard work that the staff have put in throughout the year,” he said.

Congratulations to restaurants Pin Petch, The Three Trees, The Cherry Tree and Bella Italia, best takeaway Tasty MK, best street food Eat Is Greek and newcomers Mrs Mac’s Sweet Treats.

Best Local Product (Food) is Simply Dairy Ice-cream from The Willen Ice-cream Company, and Best Local Product (Drink) is Stables Gold from Concrete Cow Brewery.

The hard work of Jack Robinson and Louise Cuthbert has been recognised in the best waiter and waitress categories.

The full list of categories and winners can be found at

This feature was published in the December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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