The Sussex Food & Drink Awards Big Reveal held at Ridgeview Vineyard where the finalists for the 6 categories were announced Hilary Knight and Paula Seager with the South Downs Food Finder Cake (For details contact Paula Seager / Natural PR 07830300469) Photograph taken by Simon Dack
The Sussex Food & Drink Awards Big Reveal held at Ridgeview Vineyard
Hilary Knight and Paula Seager with the South Downs Food Finder Cake
Photograph taken by Simon Dack

Almost 10,000 people have signed up to discover local food and drink in the first year of SouthDownsFood.org, an online directory set up to support local businesses.

Many other local residents and tourists are regularly using the site to search for and find local food and drink producers and the shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes which sell and serve great local fare from in and around the National Park. The site also includes an extensive calendar of foodie events in the region, 733 during its first year, and features the top chefs in the region inspiring people to eat locally by sharing secret recipes using local, seasonal ingredients.

‘We created this unique online food finder last year to help connect visitors and local residents with local businesses – and it’s already a huge success,” said Hilary Knight, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC which manages the site.

Food and drink businesses in the South Downs National Park celebrated the first birthday of Southdownsfood.org on Monday July 4 at Ridgeview Wine Estate at Ditchling Common in East Sussex.

July’s chef is Andy Mackenzie, executive chef of Lainston House, a 5-star country house hotel and cookery school in Winchester, with his chalk stream cured river trout with textures of beetroot, horseradish parfait, lemon caviar and dill oil.

Other top chefs to feature include Matt Gillan, recent winner of BBC2’s Great British Menu series, formerly from The Pass at South Lodge Hotel; Steven Edwards, former Masterchef: The Professionals Winner; Michael Sutherland from the Sussex Ox in Polegate; and Martin Hadden from the Spread Eagle in Midhurst.

Paula Seager, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC, said, “By buying local food and drink, we can reduce our carbon footprint, support our local economy and keep the South Downs beautiful, by ensuring our farmers continue to farm!”

“One of the region’s strengths is its incredible range of produce: there are South Downs’ own breeds of sheep and Sussex Beef, over 100 different kinds of artisan cheese, an abundance of seafood, unrivalled sparkling wine, over 50 craft breweries and the South Downs has its own spring water.”

Any food business within a ten-mile radius of the National Park – from country pubs and farm shops to farmers’ markets and wine tasting – can register their business at southdownsfood.org which was developed support from the South Downs National Park Authority and the Southern Co-operative.

Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park, said, “From artisan cheese, wild venison, micro-breweries and some of the best sparkling wines in the world, it’s great to see the South Downs being recognised for high-quality, sustainable food almost as much as its spectacular beauty and tranquil spaces.

“These are working landscapes which have been shaped by farmers and food production for thousands of years. Helping people find and appreciate this wonderful produce will make sure these businesses benefit from being part of the South Downs National Park.”

To find out more, go to: www.southdownsfood.org