The Quirky Cook - A Guest Blog

I’m Kay Wagstaff, sole owner of the Quirky Cook, a Derbyshire-based small food business, operating from my home kitchen.  I have been creating and perfecting foods professionally since 2008, producing handmade chutneys, award-winning Traditional Piccalilli and innovative Black Garlic relishes. 

I was initially approached by Saffron Millington to see if I would like to take a stall at the Marketing Derby Food & Drink Awards 2016.  By the time she had explained what this would mean to me as a local food producer, I was sold on the idea without hesitation. 

This was the first time I had attended this event and I would do it again.  It was an extremely well-organised, well-run, evening and I was impressed by the level of support and attendance it received. 

It proved to be a great networking opportunity, enabling me to promote myself, my company and to showcase my products to guests and other local producers.

I used the event as a promotional opportunity, offering samples of products and talking about them, but I also sold them – both before and after the awards had taken place.  I even had several people contact me by phone or email to make further enquiries or purchases. 

I have already indicated to the organisers that I believe these awards should be extended to include local food producers.  Whilst I have achieved recognition through the Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Awards 2016, I would be equally proud to display a sticker on my products saying “The Best of Derbyshire” or something similar.  I am proud of my products but equally proud of my heritage.  I am an ardent supporter of local produce and artisan food producers and feel there is an opportunity within the Marketing Derby Food & Drink Awards for a Local Food Producer category. 

Derby Museums' Success Following Awards Win


Read our guest blog from winner of Best Cafe 2016 Derby Musems The Coffee House.

When the judge announced the winner and said Derby Museums, I was in shock. I couldn’t move or say anything until my colleague turned around and looked at me, and started shouting and celebrating. It was unbelievable.

This was the pinnacle of a long journey that started out in June 2014 when the Museum café opened. The name, The Coffee House, was suggested by a team member who said that in the 18th century cafes were called Coffee Houses.

We were finalist in the Derby Food and Drink Awards 2014 and though glad to be recognised, we felt it was a bit too early for us but it was evidence that we were on the right track. We were determined to win the 2016 award and so every time a customer commented on how good the food/service was, we suggested they nominate us. We did some social media activity to encourage our nomination but didn’t force the issue because people should naturally want to nominate us if they thought we were good enough. I did nominate the café on behalf of the museum and thought the process was easy and straight-forward.

When I was told that we were in the final three, I was ecstatic. I immediately told everyone at the museum as well as the trustees who were all delighted and congratulated us all. For me, just being nominated and mentioned with the likes of Bean Café and Café Caruso was good enough and It felt as if we had actually won the award. It was noticeable that all the front of house team and the café team had a spring in their step and seemed more upbeat and proud of their café.

I never in my wildest dreams thought we would win but inside I was hoping that we would and when we did, “wow what a feeling”. When I took the award back to the Museum, everyone wanted to see it and have their picture taken. It has taken pride of place at the front, for the first week or so, we displayed it in amongst the cakes to make sure no one missed the fact that we are the best café in Derby. I immediately got the ‘Winner’ logo’s printed and stuck on the front window at the entrance. After John Forkin’s speech I thought I make the most of this situation given that not many people know we have a café in the museum.

The impact it’s had on the business has been phenomenal. Our takings in the first week was nearly double what we were used to do and during half term we broke our daily record 3 times in a week. The feedback we have received has reflected the fantastic service and food/drink we offer. Our tripadvisor reviews have all been great and every time the café is mentioned, its always been complimentary. I can see a big difference between not being nominated (2015), being finalist (2014) and winning (2016) and would encourage everyone to enter these prestigious awards and will definitely be looking to enter next year.  

2016 Finalists Announced

With over 2,200 nominations received from the public, Marketing Derby is pleased to announce the finalists of the 8th annual Marketing Derby Food and Drink Awards. 

The finalists were shortlisted based the quality and content of the nominations, as well as the establishment’s hygiene ratings and TripAdvisor reviews. Each establishment will be visited by mystery judges, who will assess them on food, drinks, overall atmosphere and customer service.  The winners will be announced at the ceremony, to be held at The Roundhouse on Monday 10th October. 

John Forkin, Managing Director of Marketing Derby, said: “Every year the number of nominations increases, and this year was our most difficult task, whittling down from over 2,200 nominations into a shortlist. This year’s finalists reflect the diversity and quality of Derby’s food and drink scene.

“The judges will have a difficult, albeit enjoyable, time picking a winner. We have asked them to take a rounded view, looking for excellence in customer service, with knowledgeable staff who seems to care, appropriate ambience, as well as, of course, an excellent food and drink offer.” 

The judges will have a difficult, albeit enjoyable, time picking a winner.
— John Forkin, Managing Director of Marketing Derby

Best International

Finalists sponsored by Derby Riverlights:

  • Lorentes
  • Shalimar Gold
  • The Spice Lounge

Best Pub

Finalists sponsored by Koobr:

  • New Zealand Arms
  • The Exeter Arms
  • The Greyhound

Best Customer Service

Finalists sponsored by Derby Telegraph:

  • Anoki Derby
  • Dovecate Restaurant at Morley Hayes
  • Grand Café Caruso
  • HIDE Burger Bar
  • Mansion
  • The Spice Lounge

Best Café

Finalists sponsored by Zest Produce:

  • Grand Café Caruso
  • Heavenly Desserts
  • The Coffee House at Derby Museums

Best Out of Town

Finalists sponsored by Xcel Energy:

  • Anoki Burton (A38)
  • Dovecote at Morley Hayes
  • Fox and Hounds, Coxbench

Restaurant of the Year

Finalists sponsored by Marketing Derby Bondholders:

  • HIDE Burger Bar
  • Iberico
  • Masa
  • Restaurant Zest

Best Bar

Finalists sponsored by Swindell & Pearson:

  • Hopgate
  • Mansion
  • Pitcher & Piano

Best Newcomer

Finalists sponsored by University of Derby Business School:

  • Cosy Club
  • Lisa Jean at Bennetts Brasserie
  • Oliver's
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