AWARDS celebrating those involved in the region's food industry have unveiled the winners for 2020 - with Visit Malton Food Lovers Festival taking the crown.

The Garbutt + Elliott Yorkshire Food and Drink Business Awards showcase key players in the sector and their achievements.

Malton's festival is credited with attracting thousands of visitors and boosting the town's growing reputation as Yorkshire’s food capital.

Entrepreneurs and businesses who play a major role in Yorkshire’s thriving food scene have also been celebrated in the regional awards.

With 15 categories available, including the top title, 57 businesses were shortlisted this year.

The successful finalists were chosen for their efforts and positive impact on Yorkshire’s food and drink industry, and its growing reputation nationally and overseas.

Judged by Garbutt + Elliott and chef consultant, Stephanie Moon, the top award of overall winner recognised the success of Malton's festival, for pulling in more than 40,000 visitors while also supporting Yorkshire and its independent food and drink producers and businesses.

Stephanie, a chef consultant for All Things Food who has previously worked as executive head chef at The Clocktower Restaurant in Rudding Park, said: “Yorkshire’s food and drink industry is all about local producers and businesses supporting each other, friendship and community.

"The awards really encapsulate that and are a brilliant way of showcasing the talent of the region. Visit Malton Food Lovers Festival was a worthy winner in recognition of its contribution to the producers and region as a whole.”

Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks, of the award-winning Black Swan at Oldstead and Roots York, became the first official patron of the Malton Food Lovers Festival last year.

The annual event was due to be extended to three days for the first time this year -its 12th anniversary - at the end of May but was a casualty of the coronavirus crisis and postponed.

In 2019 it featured more than 150 stalls selling locally-produced food and drink, with a line-up of culinary experts from across the UK.

In addition to the stalls and presentations on the main stage, the two-day festival saw cooking workshops and demonstrations, and Taverner’s Yard was given over to drinks producers such as Barton-le-Willows-based Sloemotion, makers of a new botanical vodka.

Festival director Tom Naylor-Leyland said: “We are thrilled to have won.

"The festival is an important part of Malton and the award means a huge amount to us and the traders here. Having grown enormously over the last 12 years to become a three-day event, it attracts people from all over Yorkshire and further afield.

"Not only that, it is highly important in positioning Malton as a foodie destination, so to win the award is recognition of all that hard work and fantastic!”

Now in its third year, the 2020 awards went virtual, with Garbutt + Elliott representatives visiting each winner for a socially-distanced personal awards presentation.

York-based Sharrell Richardson, of the Wetherby Whaler, received the Backbone of Business accolade. Gilly Robinson, from Malton Cookery School, was named Yorkshire Food & Drink Ambassador.

Yorkshire Wolds Apple Juice, from Malton, won the Quench Yorkshire category, while Harrogate Tipple distillery from Ripley, Harrogate, scooped the award for a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise above £500k.

Tony Farmer, partner at Garbutt + Elliott, said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the winners as we have travelled around Yorkshire and presented the awards.

"It has been a difficult year for many small businesses, so it was great to recognise their hard work and the effort that goes in.

"We enjoyed sampling some produce and bringing a smile, which is what the awards is all about."