Published: 06:00, 19 January 2021
People across Kent can help pick the cream of Kent's food and drink crop to be honoured in a prestigious award ceremony.
Voting has opened for the annual Taste of Kent awards, organised by Produced in Kent, which celebrates the best in food and drink that the county has to offer.
Following the public vote, there will be a judging event in March and an exclusive awards ceremony in late spring or early summer, government restrictions permitting.
Last year's awards were one of the last major events in the county before the first lockdown. Since then, the local independent food and drink industry has gone through unprecedented times, and this year's awards will recognise the hard work, dedication and professionalism demonstrated by the sector during the pandemic.
The 2021 edition, with sponsorship from Southern Co-op, NFU Mutual and Southeastern and has a new Pink Community Award dedicated to initiatives undertaken in response to Covid-19.
Produced in Kent will hold a judging event with Macknade at Elwick Place in Ashford, with a socially distanced panel of experts on Tuesday, March 23 when food experts and sponsors will choose the winners from three finalists in each category.
The public has until midnight on Sunday, February 28 to vote online by clicking on a category. If you cannot see the name of the business you would like to support, add them in and vote.
The most popular in each category will go through to the final round of tasting, mystery shopping, mystery dining and expert judging and the winners will be announced at a gala dinner.
Produced in Kent chief executive Floortje Hoette said: “Last year has shown that our Kent food and drink industry does not just grow, produce, sell and serve the highest quality food, but that the businesses themselves are highly resilient, versatile, eager to be sustainable and incredibly community-focused.
"The local independent food and drink sector kept Kent fed and watered, reached out to the vulnerable and worked incredibly hard in the most challenging trading environment since the second World War. 2021 will throw new challenges our way, but I am confident that the sector will pull through and be a driving force for innovation and a green recovery in the county."
You can vote for your favourite business in a range of categories from Kent Beer of the Year and Wine of the Year to Kent Food Retailer of the Year and Kent Dairy Produce of the Year.
There are also categories that businesses can put themselves forward for.
There is also a Kent Community Award, given by the Produced in Kent team, for a business or person that has gone over and beyond in areas including community initiative; customer service; workforce welfare and key worker.
To vote, go to tasteofkentawards.co.uk