Last Monday evening, the great and the good of the Kent Food & Drink industry got together, to celebrate all that is good in the county's food and drink sector, as the Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food Awards reached its culmination with a gala awards evening.
It is something that we have supported for the last three years and it seems to me that the bar is raised as each year goes past.
There wasn't a nominee, finalist or ultimate winner who didn't deserve to be there.
A small number from the firm donned our sparkly dresses (no I wore a dinner suit!) and were treated to dinner at the International Hotel, Ashford, produced from a raft of Kentish products from many local suppliers.
We sponsored the category of Best Farmer's Market, which I am delighted to say was won by the West Malling farmer's market. If, therefore, you see our West Malling staff wandering around the town on a Sunday, don't necessarily think they are being very conscientious working on a weekend, they may well, in fact, be stocking up their fridges from the market held on the 4th Sunday of each month.
I am also lucky enough to be on the judging panel and this year, my remit was for "Newcomer of the Year". What impressed me most was the passion that all three finalists had for their businesses. Those shortlisted were Louisa and Philip of the Debonair Tea of Hythe (www.debonairtea.co.uk), Ben Sulston of Sulstons Kitchen (facebook @sulstonskitchen) and Eva and Steve Whitney of Whits of Walmer in Walmer (www.whits.co.uk). To be honest, there was so little to choose between them all but, as they say, there has to be one winner and this year, it was Ben Sulston of Sulstons Kitchen.
So, my congratulations go to Ben and to all those winners, runners up and nominees. The food and drink industry in Kent is certainly booming, which probably explains my less than svelte like shape.