THE JUDGING PROCESS
HOW THE AWARDS WORK:Every restaurant, pub, café and fast food outlet in Oxfordshire has been invited to enter the Awards. Each establishment that has entered will have been visited by an independent reviewer who will not have revealed their identity until asking for the bill.
Each reviewer has now submitted their review to the committee who will have decided on the nominations.
The Public Vote Award is, as the name implies, open to the general public, not restricted to Oxfordshire. Promoted by Living In Oxford Magazine, the public vote consistently attracts a huge number of votes from all over the UK and even further afield. The winner is simply the establishment with the most votes, with duplicate votes taken out.
The winner of The Oxfordshire Restaurant of the Year will be decided on by the committee taking into account a number of key factors and will not necessarily be a category winner. It could be a restaurant which has performed well in the review and secured a healthy number of public votes.
COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN 2016
We are delighted to announce that Alain Desenclos, Maître d’ of Le Manoir for 26 years, has accepted our invitation to be Chairman of the Judging Committee. Having been immersed in one of Europe’s finest restaurants for the majority of his career, we couldn’t have wished for a more qualified Chairman.
Alain will be ably assisted by a high profile group of individuals who will in turn be supported by a fantastic group of reviewers from across Oxfordshire, representing some of the counties leading businesses.
OUR RESTAURANT AWARDS COMMITEE 2016
Occupation: Info coming soon...
Favourite restaurant: TBC
About Nicola: Coming Soon...
Occupation: Chief Executive, Newbury & District Agricultural Society/Royal County of Berkshire Show
Co-Reviewer: Jill Bowyer
Favourite restaurant outside of Oxfordshire: The Spyglass, Bristol – BBQ restaurant on a converted barge!
Most memorable Oxfordshire restaurant experience: Menu Decouverte, wine flight and oversnight stay at Le Manoir to celebrate our Silver wedding anniversary.
What do you hope the Awards will do for Oxfordshire restaurants? Oxfordshire on the map as a culinary destination!
Occupation: Owner & MD of Great Experience Travel Group – a leading independent travel agent & tour operator
Co-Reviewer: Debbie Gambier (wife) or Daniella Gambier (daughter), dependent upon restaurant type to be reviewed
Lives: Stonesfield, near Woodstock
Favourite restaurant outside of Oxfordshire: Was fortunate enough to be treated to a meal at the Waterside Inn in Bray, which is absolutely in a class of its own, with incredible food, perfect service and although the bill is also in a class of its own, it’s worth every penny. Having been in the travel business for more than 30 years, I have been luck enough to have eaten great meals all over the world, especially in some great mountain restaurants in Austria and Switzerland whilst skiing, and in Sydney eating rock oysters, sipping a fabulous Hunter Valley Sauvignon Blanc and looking at the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Most memorable Oxfordshire restaurant experience: Have had some really good meals over recent years as a judge on the Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards – probably my favourite was at the White Hart in Fyfield, where we had an incredible beetroot and orange pannacotta dessert, which just blew us both away at the end of what had been a great meal anyway. Also love dropping in to Reg’s Café in Banbury – undoubtedly the best ‘full English’ around. I’ve loved seeing how being involved with the Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards has had an impact on everything that the owners, Reg and Alison do, and how they have used this to enthuse their staff. It didn’t come as a surprise that they progressed from coming a creditable third place to worthy winners. We also had a superb meal at The Randolph – after years in the doldrums, as just being another over-priced hotel restaurant serving very average food, it was great to see how a change of management approach has put this iconic Oxford landmark back at the top of its game.
What do you hope the Awards will do for Oxfordshire restaurants? I hope that the Awards will continue to gain credibility and entering them becomes the ‘must do’ for any aspiring restaurant around the county that is really interested in being recognized for its quality. This will help to drive up standards for cuisine and service, but should also show that it is possible to provide the highest in both, without it costing a fortune.
Occupation: Head up Oxforshire's Registration and Coroner's Service
Co-Reviewer: John Bugeja
Lives: Ascott under Wychwood
Favourite restaurant outside of Oxfordshire: I have two favourites. The Georgian restaurants in Harrods, London - the restaurant is beautiful, the service excellent and at lunchtimes, has a pianist playing. They also offer a buffet menu which offers a vast array of choices and guarantess my teenage boys come away full! / Polpo in Covent Gardens. The food is fabulous and very good value. The atmosphere is great too.
Most memorable Oxfordshire restaurant experience: Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons - We went there to celebrate a special anniversary - very romantic!
What do you hope the Awards will do for Oxfordshire restaurants? I'm sure it will expose some great restaurants that people have yet to discover. I am always interested to read restaurant reviews as these often encourage me to visit somewhere I would not have gone ordinarily. I hope our reviews will encourage others to try somewhere new.
Occupation: Communications and Social Media Manager in Transport
Co-Reviewer: David Whitley
Favourite restaurant outside of Oxfordshire: Quo Vadis in Heavitree, Exeter. It’s unassuming, friendly, consistent and simple.
Most memorable Oxfordshire restaurant experience: I took my partner to the Randolph for his birthday and I made a cake in what was meant to be " the shape of a car". It was not the best looking cake ever - my cake making skills are not great- but the staff decorated the cake with rose petals and they were amazing throughout the night. They say it's the thought that counts and the care and attention they gave us made our night very special.
What do you hope the Awards will do for Oxfordshire restaurants?This year, the Awards will be bigger and better and will encourage restaurants to up their game to win what are now highly prestigious awards.
Occupation: Partner and Head of Darbys Solicitors Oxford Office
Favourite restaurant: The Old Parsonage
About John: Rebecca is a Partner at Darbys Solicitors LLP and is Head of our Oxford office. Before taking on the role of Head of the Oxford office, Rebecca was Head of the Private Client Team. She also works closely with Managing Partner, Simon McCrum on the firm's Marketing and business development strategy.
Occupation: Head of External Development and Partnerships at City of Oxford College
Co-Reviewer: Richard Peirson
Favourite restaurant (outside of Oxfordshire): Tom Kerridge’s – Hand and Flowers in Marlow. We have been there 2 years on the trot for my mothers birthday. Both times have exceeded our expectation in terms of the menu, food, service and their desire to please adults and little people alike (my 3/5 year old). Another restaurant worth a mention in terms of amazing experiences is Porthminster Café in St Ives – amazing food, wine and atmosphere sat on the Porthminster beach.
Most memorable Oxfordshire restaurant experience: My very first visit to Le Manoir approx 12 years ago when eating in such amazing places was a very new experience to me. Also as a new reviewer last year I reviewed the White Hart at Fyfield and had the most amazing crispy egg with asparagus - the dish it was to die for.
About Helen: Helen has worked at City of Oxford College for 16 months in an externally focussed role. Helen engages with a number of local businesses ensuring employers are actively involved with the college. Helen is an avid foodie who has visited many amazing restaurants both within the UK and further afield including Sydney and Provence. Helen project managed the Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards and behalf of City of Oxford College in 2014.
Occupation: Jaguar UK Accredited Fleet & Business manager
Co-Reviewer: Richard Long
Lives: Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire
Favourite restaurant outside of Oxford: Anthony Bourdain’s, Brasserie Les Halle, Park Avenue, New York. Koh Mak Seafood Restaurant, Thailand and The Muddy Duck in Hethe.
Most Memorable Oxford Restaurant Experience: Discovering Chiang Mai Kitchen in Kemp Hall Passage not long after Richard and I had returned from Thailand. Quirky building with interesting history serving stunning Thai food that transported us back to the tiny island of Koh Mak and its one and only restaurant, simply called ‘Koh Mak Seafood Restaurant’ – where you can watch your lunch pulled out of the sea and cooked in front of you.
What do you hope the awards will do for Oxfordshire Restaurants: Give them the respect that they deserve for all of their hard work! It isn’t easy to ‘get it right’ as we the reviewers know. Trip Advisor has made EVERYONE a reviewer so restaurants have had to raise their game considerably. I think there is a stunning galaxy of little stars glittering out there that need their time to shine in the spotlight and give them the confidence boost to go on to achieve even greater thing.
About Kelly: Kelly started out reviewing food for Impact Magazine in Brighton more than 18 years ago. From there she went on to review for The Latest Magazine, Brighton and then Yorkshire Post Newspapers. It was there that she won an award at the National Newspaper Society Awards for Best Food Feature for her weekly column entitled “Kelly Eats Out!”. She continued reviewing the eating places of Yorkshire for another 10 years for The Leeds Guide, The Dining Out Guide, Plush Magazine, Excel, Beyond Leeds and Studio Arts & Culture Magazine and now Living Oxford. “I like the beautiful and delicious things in life, which is why I indulge my passion for stunning fast cars by working for Jaguar now and continue with my favourite hobby – eating food.”
Occupation: Executive Chef Pembroke College
Co-Reviewer: Dawn Dudley
Favourite Restaurant outside Oxfordshire: The Thatch in Croyde Bay Devon
Favourite Restaurant in Oxfordshire: The Sir Charles Napier Chinnor
What do you hope the Awards will do for Oxfordshire restaurants: To discover a Restaurant and talented Chefs that no one else has yet discovered.
Occupation: Oxford Professional Consulting
Favourite restaurant in Oxfordshire: My favourite restaurant is in Valencia where I had the most fabulous meal of tapas followed by paella in October 2013. I've been back and it's always good but that day the weather, the company and the food was simply perfect.
Most memorable Oxfordshire restaurant experience: I was taken to Le Manoir for lunch on my birthday. It was wonderful. It was the tasting menu and each course was exquisite. The service was discreet and thoroughly professional. The waiters had time to talk if you wanted to but didn't chat if you didn't. My husband did need to call for the bread tray a few extra times though because the portions were on the small side.
What do you hope the Awards will do for Oxfordshire restaurants?: When I go out to eat in Oxford, I'd like a choice of restaurants where the food, ambience and service impress me and where I can take guests for a special occasion. There are several places we can go for a nice ambience and average food but not for a fantastic meal. And certainly nowhere I know which gives me great service and great food every time. That's in Oxford itself, but it may be better in the county.... I'm looking forward to finding out.
Occupation: Marketing & Business Development Director, Oxford Innovation Ltd
Co-Reviewer: Robert Stevens
Favourite restaurant: having just returned from Tenerife, I particularly enjoyed a restaurant in the Los Abrigos area – Les Roques, where the English owners have brought English gastro cooking to a small fishing village and created a fantastic array of dishes and drinks to match. On a previous overseas trip we loved Zuma in Miami so much, we visited twice in our short stay there – the tasting menu was outstanding. Closer to home, the Sunday Roast Beef at London Street Brasserie in Reading, accompanied by their Chocolate Box Shiraz is a great way to while away an afternoon.
Favourite experience in Oxfordshire: Several years of living just off the A420 near Longworth meant numerous trips to The White Hart at Fyfield, which was always outstanding – I just wish I still lived so close!
About Jo: I have worked for Oxford Innovation for 15 years, travelling all over the UK visiting our network of Innovation Centres, supporting over 900 growing SMEs. An avid food and drink lover, I particularly enjoy trying new gins and finding outstanding dining experiences.