Cocina at Casa Hotel has been crowned Chesterfield's best restaurant in the town's prestigious Food and Drink Awards.
Judges described Cocina's menu as "imaginative" and the quality of food as "excellent", highlighting the "provenance of locally-sourced food". They also praised the overall "quality dining experience".
The prestigious Restaurant of the Year award is another to add to the trophy cabinet of Chesterfield's four star hotel, owned by local entrepreneur Steve Perez. Earlier this year it was announced as one of the top 5 hotels in the UK in the Trip Advisor 2015 Travellers' Choice Awards.
Steve Perez said: "It’s always wonderful to receive awards, especially when you are in the company of other great shortlisted restaurants. Here at Casa we always try and put our customers first so it feels extra special when they make their voices heard in such a brilliant way. Cocina focuses on both the food product and the customer – using the best quality locally sourced ingredients in the kitchen, and friendly, professional service in the dining room."
As well as Cocina, 11 other food and drink establishments, producers and individuals were also named as Chesterfield's finest at the sell-out awards ceremony hosted by celebrity chef Theo Randall.
Theo Randall said: "Chesterfield's food and drink scene is thriving; the strong field in the Best Newcomer category is testament to that. I commend all the finalists in this category knowing only too well myself, when I opened my first restaurant, Theo Randall at the InterContinental in 2006, the courage, commitment and belief in yourself it takes to set out and do it on your own.
"Good food is one of life’s simple pleasures. The support shown for the awards in both the nomination phase and the awards shows that good food is a passion of many people in Chesterfield.
"The awards are a great demonstration of how the food and drink scene in Chesterfield has evolved in recent years. It is now catering for many tastes, from authentic Japanese and Jamaican to Italian and Great British. The town has everything and is continuing to develop its thriving and increasingly successful hospitality scene."
Organised by Destination Chesterfield, in association with Chesterfield College, the 2015 awards were the biggest yet and tickets sold out weeks in advance. More nominations than ever were received from the public, resulting in ten businesses being first-time finalists in the awards.
As well as sponsoring the awards, Chesterfield College also hosted them, with 50 students, studying NVQ and BTECs in catering and hospitality, catering and silver serving a two-course meal to more than 250 people attending the event. The college also trained the winner of the Young Chef of the Year James Greatorex.
Stuart Cutforth, principal of Chesterfield College, added: "The Food and Drink Awards are the go to event in Chesterfield. There is a wealth of outstanding food and drink establishments in the town and Chesterfield College is delighted to be training the future stars of the industry. Our mission statement is 'inspiring futures, changing lives' and the Food and Drink Awards enable us to do just that, giving the many apprentices we train real hands-on experiences at the ceremony each year."
Destination Chesterfield Manager Dominic Stevens said: "Each year we have seen an increase in the number of people nominating businesses for the awards and this year was no exception. The support across Chesterfield has been phenomenal, with people keen to see the town, and the businesses and people working within its hospitality sector succeed and grow."
The winners of the 2015 Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards were named as:
Restaurant of the Year – sponsored by Chesterfield Borough Council
Cocina at the Casa Hotel
"It’s always wonderful to receive awards, especially when you are in the company of other great shortlisted restaurants. Here at Casa we always try and put our customers first so it feels extra special when they make their voices heard in such a brilliant way. Cocina focuses on both the food product and the customer – using the best quality locally sourced ingredients in the kitchen, and friendly, professional service in the dining room." Steve Perez, owner, Casa Hotel
Café or Tea Room of the Year – sponsored by Kier
H & F Vintage Tea Rooms
"Winning the tea room of the year is more than we could have hoped for. It's an amazing achievement for all the team. Customers always comment on the vintage theme, cakes and our building." Louise Beale, owner, H & F Vintage Tea Rooms
Best Out of Town
The Bateman’s Mill
"I am so proud and happy to win the Best Out of Town category. I believe I have the best chefs and front of house staff. They work as a team and I wouldn't want to work with anyone else." Jade Hendon, manager and owner of The Bateman’s Mill
Family Friendly Award – sponsored by Jumble Design
The Manor at Brampton
"It's fantastic to win the award for the second year running. We work really hard to be a family friendly establishment so to win an award endorses this." Anita Harvey, Group Operations Director for Brampton Manor
International Restaurant of the Year – sponsored by MSE Hiller
"It feels fantastic to win the award for the second year running. We are delighted that all our hard work is paying off. It goes to show that the staff and everyone working at the restaurant is doing something right. We source the best ingredients, pay attention to detail and ensure we do things right first time every time and source the best ingredients." Azmalur Rahman, owner, Delhi 41
Gastro Pub of the Year – sponsored by Chesterfield College
Red Lion Bar and Bistro at Peak Edge Hotel
"It's a great honour to win the award and we really appreciate it. We believe the great service the staff deliver, good food and atmosphere is what sets the Red Lion Bar and Bistro apart from others." Damian Dugdale, owner, Red Lion Bar and Bistro at Peak Edge Hotel
Young Chef of the Year – sponsored by The Crooked Spire Church
"Winning the award is amazing. I feel ecstatic. I'm now employed at the Tickled Trout working my way up and I love it. Doing the course at Chesterfield College has helped me in my career already and it’s given me more skills and techniques that I can use at work and in my future career." James Greatorex
Pub of the Year – sponsored by Hooper's
The Manor at Brampton
"To be named Gastro Pub of the year is a phenomenal surprise. It's all about the people that come in. We have the time to make them happy and try our hardest to do so. Knowing that this is recognised with the award is fantastic. We have beautiful decor and have a huge variety of local beers and drinks as well as competitive prices." Stephanie Alston, The Manor at Brampton
Best Newcomer – sponsored by Barber Harrison and Platt
"We weren't expecting to win. We had only been open a month when we were nominated and we've been working so hard that we almost forgot about it. It's just fantastic and makes the hard work and long hours worthwhile. I'd say to anyone thinking about opening their own café or restaurant to commit yourself and just go for it." Daniel Carrington, director, Coffee Street
Best Customer Service Award – sponsored by East Midlands Chamber
Stephenson's Coffee and Tea House
"It's brilliant to win. We give customers what they deserve and treat them like our friends. We have a dedicated team of staff and also fantastic customers who come back to us time and time again. We appreciate them and they appreciate us." Claire and Samuel Wood, mum and son owners of Stephenson’s Coffee and Tea House
Food Producer of the Year – sponsored by NatWest Bank
Granny Mary's Potted Meats (Original Recipes)
"It's an amazing achievement to be both named Food Producer of the Year and represent Chesterfield. It's good to be in Chesterfield with great local suppliers and excellent transport links for national distribution. We are now hoping to be distributed nationally and then the rest of the world." William Sutherland, director, Granny Mary’s Potted Meats (Original Recipes)
Conference Venue of the Year – sponsored by Mitchells Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers
The Proact Stadium
"It feels absolutely fantastic to win. We've got a great team who have really done us proud. Our conference venue really is for any use, not just football and there is still a lot more we can offer people." Paul Watts, Events Manager, The Proact Stadium
Chesterfield Food Hero – sponsored by Banner Jones Solicitors
Northern Tea Merchants
"It feels absolutely fantastic to have won Chesterfield Food Hero! It's lovely to think that people have recognised the work that I do to promote both Northern Tea Merchants and also the glorious town in which we are based. The business has been based here for three generations. We have 70 per cent of the population within an hour and a half of Chesterfield which is great when you're delivering food. Chesterfield has changed so much in the last 20 years. It now has to be a serious consideration for anyone thinking of setting up a food business." James Pogson, Director, Northern Tea Merchants
Other supporters of the awards include the Derbyshire Times, Peak FM, Franke Sissons, Holdsworth Foods, Black Eyed Susan, Reflections and Steve Faulkner Distinctive Magic.