TUESDAY 28 JUNE 2011 • THE GOOD FOOD GUIDE AWARDS 2011
Rewarding hard work and effort
Last week I had the immense pleasure of presenting one of the Good Food Guide's most important distinctions, the Readers' Restaurant of the Year Award. The reason this is so very important is that the Good Food Guide was originally founded as a guide to restaurants that aggregated the opinions of its readers, rather than a guide determined by the deliberations of editors and professional inspectors (the best model of this last being the Michelin Guide). So this award very much reflects the original purpose of the GFG, when it was founded by (my namesake) Raymond Postgate sixty years ago.
Started at his house in Finchley, NW London, Postgate began the "good food club" the year before, 1950, "for the prevention of cruelty to food". How right he was. I well remember thinking that just such an organisation was needed when I first came to England in 1972 – laws were needed to keep cooks from boiling vegetables to death, and snuffing out the life of meat animals a second time by cooking them so badly. By the next year enough people had joined for him to edit a book giving their views on places to eat away from home.
This was of course just after the War, a time of mock cream, butter-mocking margarine and powdered eggs. Postgate was a hero, a classical scholar, economist and a writer of crime fiction. Yet posterity remembers him for his insistence on better food and a better deal for consumers.
So at a time when we are just learning the importance of high ethical standards in sourcing our food, of reconnecting with the soil of our own regions and rediscovering the pleasure of fresh, local food, it doubled or trebled my pleasure, at this time of food revolution in Britain, to give this most Postgate-like of all the GFG awards to Orwells, in Shiplake, Oxfordshire — my own adopted county. Hurrah for the owners, Ryan Simpson and Liam Trotman! As Elizabeth Carter of the GFG said, the chef, Ryan Simpson, "clearly understands the way we want to eat now and has judged his market exactly".
I like to think that Le Manoir, Brasserie Blanc and Maison Blanc had a good deal to do with bringing the food revolution to Oxfordshire. How wonderful that our region triumphed over all the others with Orwells' "example of impressive modern dining with a 'something-for-everyone' appeal".
Congratulations and bravo!
PS Please tell me what you think of my blogs and my website: I want to hear from you!
Raymond Blanc's new book, Kitchen Secrets, featuring recipes from Kitchen Secrets Series 1 & 2 and many more, was published by Bloomsbury on 14 February and is available to buy online from Amazon, from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Brasserie Blanc, Maison Blanc, and from online and retail bookstores.
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