Thank you to our esteemed judges who have given their time and expertise freely, so they can help champion Cumbria’s amazing food and drink sector and so that Cumbria Life can give out these awards with the authority and independence that such a scheme deserves. This year the Chairman of Judges will be Stephen Doherty.
Chef/Proprietor, First Floor Cafe, Lakeland, Windermere
Steven started his cookery career with a 2-year apprenticeship at the Savoy. His association with Albert Roux at Le Gavroche began in 1978 as a Commis Chef and then in 1985 he became the first British person to be Head Chef of a 3-Michelin Star establishment. In 1991 he was awarded the Master of Culinary Arts. Steven’s Lake District love affair began in 1993 with the Brown Horse at Winster, followed by The Punch Bowl at Crosthwaite and then the First Floor Café at the flagship Lakeland store in Windermere. In 2010, he created The Beer Kitchen at Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley. Steven judges many competitions and is a popular speaker at chef’s conferences and well as finding time to be on the management committee for the Northern branch of the Academy of Culinary Arts.
Stephanie Thompson & Keith Sutton
Cumbria Life restaurant critic Keith Sutton writes a monthly fine dining review with his partner Stephanie Thompson
Keith edited The Cumberland News and the News & Star in Carlisle from 1993-2005. The Cumberland News was named UK Weekly and Regional Newspaper of the Year in 2001 and 2005 for its coverage of foot and mouth in Cumbria and the Carlisle floods. Before that he edited the North West Evening Mail in Barrow, and with partner Stephanie he also ran the highly regarded Trinity House Hotel in Ulverston from 1987 to 1995. Both Keith and Stephanie had a long career in Fleet Street before moving to Cumbria. He enjoys food and drink, and cycling.
Richard Axford Assistant head, Kendal College’s School of Hospitality and Catering
As the assistant head of school for hospitality and catering at Kendal College, Richard Axford is responsible for training many of Cumbria’s future chefs and restaurant staff. Richard has more than 17 years’ experience working in hotels across the country as head chef, cooking at AA Red Rosette Level for seven consecutive years. Kendal College’s hospitality department and restaurant have built a national reputation and Richard is the driving force behind many of its initiatives. Last year he brought Cumbria’s four Michelin-starred chefs to the college to cook a meal together for the first time, providing invaluable experience for the students.
Gillian was a journalist for 35 years before taking up the position as PR/Marketing Manager for Country Harvest, the award-winning shop and deli-cafe at Ingleton.
For many years she wrote a weekly food column giving many local food producers that all important first step on the publicity ladder and she was instrumental in helping encourage a huge sea change in the local food movement.
Gillian is a keen amateur cook and food shopping is her favourite form of retail therapy.