Simply the best
The winners of the Garden Centre Catering Awards 2023 are finally revealed!
Seven months after its launch, a bumper number of entries, many highly enjoyable covert investigations, much heated discussion and a final, highly argumentative, but ultimately unanimous judging session, Garden Centre Catering can finally announce the names of the four worthy winners of the Garden Centre Catering Awards 2023 competition – and what a competition it was!
All award competitions are interesting, but few are as enjoyable as this one, which has offered endless opportunities to spend sunny (and some rainy) days examining – and sampling - the truly imaginative fare that is now the hallmark of so many garden centres. With entries arriving from every size of centre, including the larger chains and the more modestly sized independents and from companies with multiple outlets to those with just two or three, the judges were faced with a plethora of choice at every stage and in every category.
This year, in addition to the three established categories – Independent of the Year, Group of the Year and the Sustainability Award, a new category, was added. It was decided to include an award for Afternoon Tea of the Year in recognition of the fact that the provision of tempting tea-time treats, with or without the addition of the ubiquitous glass of fizz, hasn’t just added another incentive for garden centre caterers to hone and refine their baking skills, it’s opened up a further very useful source of revenue too. Better still, as afternoon tea is as enjoyable on a dreary day at the back end of November as it is on a sunny afternoon in June, it’s a revenue stream that is relevant the whole year through.
What judging criteria were used? Ultimately, we were looking to reward cafés and restaurants where everything came together as part of a cohesive whole. In the first instance, ambience was important. This meant attractive décor, confortable seating, pleasing views and good facilities in the way of parking, toilets, highchairs and outdoor eating opportunities.
And obviously, the food had to pass muster too. Extra points were awarded for more adventurous menu options, together with the provision of plant-based and gluten free dishes, perfect presentation and excellent cooking skills. And, needless to say, the warmth of the welcome and the overall efficiency of the catering service were regarded as other other vital attributes.
However, there’s no point in having the perfect venue if no one knows about it, so promotional efforts were also taken into consideration, as was the provision of extra events and services.
It might seem that we were asking for the impossible, but it’s amazing how many venues scored highly on all counts, thus making it a very tightly fought contest.
In the end though, tough decisions had to be made and the winning entries all offered that intangible something extra – a true case of ‘je ne said quoi’ if you will. So, without any further ado, the winners are:
Thetford Garden Centre, Thetford, Norfolk
Independent Garden Centre Caterer of the Year
Bosworth Garden Company, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire
Winner of the Group Garden Centre Caterer of the Year
St Peter’s Garden Centre, Broomhill, Worcester, Worcestershire.
Winner of the Afternoon Tea of the Year
Tong Garden Centre Catering, Bradford, West Yorks
Winner of the Sustainability Award
Congratulations to all the winners, and a huge thank you to all of those who entered – please try again next year! Our grateful thanks are also extended to Tipiak, which very kindly sponsored the Afternoon Tea award, 200 Coffee, which sponsored the Group award and Electrolux Professional.
The Garden Centre Catering Awards will return next year and we will be providing further information on how to enter in spring 2024