Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards 2020

The most anticipated awards event for the food and drink industry in Cumbria is returning for the ninth year.

The Cumbria Life 2020 Food & Drink Awards will take place on Thursday, March 5. Kendal College will again host the event, as it has done since the awards’ inception.

Chefs, hoteliers, café owners, restaurateurs, producers and industry movers and shakers will gather to celebrate a year of tremendous development in the industry. Cumbria now has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any county outside Greater London, after three venues received stars for the first time. Meanwhile, new producers and daytime eating places have continued to start up and the county has scooped awards and recognition in many national guides and awards.

During the awards evening, Kendal College students will cook a three-course dinner for guests under the watchful eye of head of school for hospitality Richard Axford.

The event will culminate with the announcement of the winners of 14 main awards by the host. Previous hosts have included Helen Skelton, Prue Leith, Jay Rayner and Nigel Barden. Additional special awards will be announced on the night.

The awards have a new headline sponsor, Caterite, the Lake District’s leading independent wholesale supplier.

Individuals and business owners can enter themselves for the awards and readers can nominate their favourite places and people.

Cumbria Life editor Michaela Robinson-Tate says: “We delighted to be able to stage the ninth Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards.

“In past years, readers have let us know about restaurants that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. We hope that they will do the same this year and tell us about hidden gems throughout the county.”

North west retailer Booths is once again supporting the event by supplying the ingredients for the awards dinner.

Retail marketing manager Helen Clarke says: “Booths are delighted to support the Cumbria Life Food & Drink awards again this year. These awards are a mark of excellence in the county. Supporting local producers making exceptional food and drink in the region is the essence of what we do at Booths. We’re looking forward to this year’s celebration of terrific food made by people with dedication and drive in the Lakes.”

Several new judges have been recruited with a number returning from last year. The full judging panel will be announced in the January issue of Cumbria Life.


  • Food Producer
  • Drinks Producer
  • Specialist retailer/supplier
  • Food & Farming
  • Pub/Bar
  • Dining Pub
  • Café
  • Best Newcomer
  • Casual dining
  • Chef
  • Hotel restaurant
  • Restaurant
  • Cumbria Life Readers’ Award
  • The Matt Campbell Rising Star Award


  • Online nominations/entries open Thursday Nov 21, 2019
  • Online nominations/entries close Friday Jan 3, 2020
  • Finalists profiled in Cumbria Life March edition, published Thursday Feb 20, 2020
  • Awards night, dinner and presentation Thursday March 5, Kendal College
  • Winners’ edition of Cumbria Life, April edition, published Thursday March 19


Business owners, managers, or individuals may enter themselves for an award using the ONLINE ENTRY form.


Cumbria Life readers can tell us about their favourites by going to and choosing the ONLINE NOMINATION form. Your opinions will inform the shortlisting and judging process. Do tell us about your lesser known Cumbrian favourites who deserve more recognition, as well as places that already win awards.

This is not an online poll – we want quality testimonials.


Shortlists of finalists in all categories will be decided by the judges based on a combination of reader nominations, business entries, personal and industry knowledge and published awards, ratings, reviews and accreditations.

To decide the winners, judges may request further information from finalists, or undertake further visits.


To sponsor a category in the 2020 Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards contact business development manager Jackie Clemence on 07766 445685, email

The sponsorship package covers the January, February, March and April editions of Cumbria Life, digital activity, social media and the awards event and dinner.



This award acknowledges the passion and dedication of our county’s food producers, from small-scale traders to larger companies with national and even international reach. The judging criteria that unite this broad sector include integrity of sourcing and production, a differentiating offer, evidence of progression and evolution, and great tasting product(s).


This category celebrates the burgeoning innovation in Cumbria’s drinks industry. From milkers, juicers and roasters through to infusers, brewers and distillers, this is a broad category representing a huge pool of talent. Judges will be looking for a producer whose passion for their product spills over into all aspects of their business practice. Judges will reward the business whose product (or range) represents an inimitable, “trademark” taste and unfaltering commitment to quality, consistency and integrity.


This award will recognise a wholesale or retail business whose specialist knowledge and skill is unique to their trade and to this area. Judges will acknowledge passionate understanding of the subject matter, a discerning approach, robustness of supply chain networks and quality/consistency of service.


Cumbria’s rich farming heritage and cultural landscape are celebrated in this category, which acknowledges our primary producers and the vital work that they do. Judges will identify and acknowledge an individual or business that demonstrates innovative entrepreneurship, commitment to the evolution and promotion of the Cumbrian farming sector and a strong grounding in provenance, integrity and sustainability.


This award aims to encapsulate the evolving scene of dynamic pubs and watering holes popping up across our county. The winning venue could represent a particular theme, culture or experience, or may just be a perfect example of a typical Cumbrian boozer. Judges will assess the full experience, from the quality and selection of food/drink on offer, right through to the warmth of welcome, majoring on a truly convivial atmosphere.


This award recognises the achievements of the county’s pub landlords and patrons who are operating at the highest level of food and drink excellence. Judges will reward menus that exude confidence, flair and individuality. Commitment to provenance, fastidious attention to detail and a truly professional approach to kitchen and customer service operations are essential.


Cumbria is a tourism hub awash with cafés but this category is seeking to acknowledge those establishments that offer our visitors and residents a country mile more than the average. Key judging criteria include home-cooked food, creative, inclusive menus, the art of making the perfect drink and the warmest of welcomes.


Chosen by the judges from all businesses launched during 2019, whether shortlisted in other categories or not.


Conviviality, warmth, charm and individuality will be recognised in this category, which seeks to highlight our neighbourhood bistros and diners. Our judges are looking for the tastiest food and drinks, and a truly relaxed atmosphere. Seamless service, product knowledge and menus that are able to adapt to all tastes/diets will be rewarded.


It is a privilege for our judges to observe and honour individuals who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of culinary excellence. This category represents some of the most committed and passionate individuals in our hospitality industry, who work tirelessly to uphold a reputation for this county as a hub for exciting, bold and spectacular food. Judges will be looking for an individual demonstrating technical excellence, consistency of skill and talent, creative evolution and the ability to leave a lasting impression on diners.


The Cumbrian hotel restaurant scene is renowned, from the waterfront, country houses of the Lake District to the hidden gems nestled in our forests and hills, and our sleek, urban dining venues. Creating a restaurant to complement a hotel tastefully and adequately requires great skill and investment.
This award recognises those landmark establishments whose food offer leaves a lasting impression on its guests and elevates a stay to an ultimately more luxurious, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Judges will be looking for the highest levels of hospitality professionalism and exquisitely-sourced, made and presented food.


The jewel in the crown of our annual awards, the 2020 restaurant of the year award will scour the depth and breadth of the restaurant scene in Cumbria to identify a venue that demonstrates the ability and vision to stand out from the rest. This will be a restaurant at the height of its game and judges will determine the winner based on a combination of criteria, which acknowledge all aspects of the journey from kitchen to plate. A confident sense of identity and place, coupled with a flawless dining experience, will be highly rewarded.


The winner of this award will be an individual, business, venue or initiative that our discerning readers believe best represents the current Cumbrian food and drink scene. Judges will adjudicate a shortlist of the reader-voted nominees. Quality, as well as quantity, of nominations will be assessed.


This award recognises the emerging achievements of an individual in the Cumbrian food & drink sector and beyond. Awarded in 2018 to the dearly missed, late Matt Campbell, this award holds a very special place in our hearts. Judges hope to entrust the 2020 accolade to an individual displaying the same enviable enthusiasm, raw talent and drive.

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