Hazel Roberts caught up with the organiser Steven Dryden-Hall to hear his plans for the 2021 event, which takes place on November 7th.
The Milton Keynes Food & Leisure Awards 2021 launched on 1st July, with online voting opening to the public.
Now into its ninth year, the awards seek to celebrate the local hospitality industry, culminating in a gala awards evening on 7th November at The Jurys Inn.
I caught up with founder, Steven Dryden-Hall to find out more.
“The last couple of years have been tough for the hospitality industry,” he tells me, “so we are very keen to recognise the hard work of people working in this sector more than ever this year.”
The awards last year were unable to follow the usual format so I asked Steven what we can expect in 2021.
“We moved the awards evening to November last year and we will be keeping it the same this year. We are keen for the dinner at the Jurys Inn to go ahead to create the proper celebratory atmosphere. The Cook-Off is back, for best chef, and this year we will have 12 chefs taking part.”
This will happen in mid-October at MK College, with the results being revealed at the awards evening. Along with categories such as best restaurant, café, pub and bar, last year the new category of best takeaway was added, which has become particularly relevant in the last few months.
“There has been a lot of movement within the hospitality industry recently,” says Steven, “so it is a great opportunity for the public to get behind their favourites, whether that be a newcomer or a business that has consistently delivered top quality service.”
When touching base with businesses nominated this year, Steven says he has heard how there are huge gaps in staffing. “Businesses are telling me that they lost staff to other jobs whilst shut so there are plenty of vacancies.
“We have always been Food Scene keen to support hospitality so if there are people out there looking for a hospitality job, email me and I will put them in touch with businesses looking to recruit.”
All votes this year will be online, so it is easy to get involved. In addition, get in touch if you want to nominate a business not already listed.
There are also sponsorship opportunities available, and local artisans can message to express an interest in entering
the best local product award in the autumn.