Our Champions

2016 champions

Norfolk Food & Drink champions are chosen from different points in our food supply chain as respected and influential people in their industry.

The champions’ role is to be ambassadors of Norfolk Food & Drink – to help to raise public awareness and to showcase Norfolk’s food and drink offering from larger producers and processors to the much smaller producers. Champions aim to bring communities together with shared values and interest for food and share ideas of where and how to buy, cook and enjoy great food and drink to improve quality of life and work.

So we interviewed them to find out more about who they are and what they hope to achieve in their tenure as champion…

Andrew Mackay, sales manager at the Friendly Tomato Co, Wissington

A native Scot, I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Entrepreneurship and moved to East Anglia in 2013. In the past 18 months I have worked with a wide variety of the best producers, foodies, restaurants and shops that Norfolk and Suffolk have to offer. I’ve always loved food, with a background in hospitality, and I am honoured to be asked to represent our fantastic county and the plethora of Food and Drink available in it over the next year.

Why have you become a champion, and what are your aims?

I was delighted to be asked to be a Norfolk Food & Drink Champion, particularly as a non-Norfolk lad. One of my main aims is to educate youngsters on the importance of local, seasonal produce and to unearth producers and growers that many won’t know exist.

Favourite Norfolk food

While it’s probably the answer a lot of people will give you, you cannot beat Cromer crab. Seasonal, fresh and local, what more could you want?

Favourite place to eat in Norfolk, and why?

Eric’s Fish and Chip Shop in Thornham, perfect after a day along the coast.

Who would be your top five guests (living or dead) at a dinner party, and why?

Tim Peake – I’d love to know what Norfolk looks like from space. James Dyson – one of the best-known entrepreneurs in the world, and a Norfolk boy. Stephen Fry – every dinner party needs some humour, serious intelligence and Norfolk input. Jamie Oliver – down to earth, culinary wizard, I’d likely ask for his help organising the food. Adele – having watched her set live at Glastonbury, that potty mouth would be great during dinner, and her singing great afterwards.

Stephen Newham, producer of cold-pressed rapeseed oils and much more based on the Salle Estate in the heart of Norfolk and part of the Crush Foods family.

Born and bred in Norfolk, I briefly left to study politics at university before starting a career in food and drink in London. After 10 years of missing Norfolk I moved back to start a new journey with Crush Foods and have never looked back. Norfolk is highly regarded for food and drink wherever I travel and has a very exciting future I am proud to be  part of.

Why have you become a champion, and what are your aims?

It was a real honour to be asked to fill the shoes of some amazing previous champs! But I am ready for the challenge; my main focus will be promoting and growing Norfolk food and drink outside of Norfolk and showcasing what we producers do.

Favourite Norfolk food

It has to be the amazing selection of locally brewed beers, Norfolk does it best, using locally grown barley and an huge array of tastes. Something for everyone

Favourite place to eat in Norfolk, and why?

I am lucky enough to eat at some stunning places on my travels through Norfolk, however there is nothing I love more than a picnic at Stiffkey overlooking the marshes. Beautiful.

If you were having a dinner party and could invite anyone (living or dead) who would be your top five guests, and why?

Horatio Nelson – a Norfolk lad with many a tale. John Peel – a shared passion for music. Sir David Attenborough – I grew up watching his work and I have always been in awe of his knowledge. Margaret Thatcher – no surprise I would have a politician present. Whatever your opinion of her I am sure it would make for an interesting meal. Pierre Koffman – a truly magical chef and creator, from humble beginnings, proof that hard work and passion is the key to success.

Caroline Seaman

Caroline is a farmer’s daughter, public health food specialist, hospitality professional, passionate social egalitarian and advocate for the seldom heard.

Why have you become a champion, and what are your aims?

I’m delighted to have this opportunity to speak up about food and drink in Norfolk. My aims: I have a particular interest in food education, especially antenatal nutrition and good weaning practice, as well as raising the profile of the many opportunities the food and farming industries have for young people looking for a direction in their future working lives. I am looking forward to sharing narratives about where Norfolk produce goes, starting with the fields around my home, where I have our first crop of soft milling wheat, marrowfat peas, sugar beet, and oilseed rape (just harvested). They will be considered in the context of the interesting times food and farming are in post-Brexit and the very real challenges we face in terms of  our national nutritional health I want to meet more of the producers and processors who contribute so much to the local economy, learn more about the breadth of Norfolk’s produce knowledge outside the county and meet chefs and cooks who use the county’s bounty. I will also use this role to speak up about the inequality gap that exists in Norfolk and nationally around food choices.

Favourite Norfolk food

I’ve known Booja-Booja’s Truffles (vegan and dairy-free)  for many years, and am always thrilled to see them in far-flung places. Norfolk barley and malt are very special; then there is our special asparagus and samphire in all too brief seasons; and of course there’s Colman’s Mustard, renowned across the globe.

Favourite place to eat in Norfolk, and why?

This is in my own kitchen, enjoying delicious produce from my garden, fine-tuning my budgeting skills and enjoying the company of friends.

If you were having a dinner party and could invite anyone (living or dead) who would be your top five guests, and why?

Hippocrates – he really knew what he was talking about when he said ‘’Let food be your medicine’’ back in 400BC. Professor Tim Lang – he’s such a busy man so I would be sure of hearing so many of his wise words about food and farming policy. My mother – she’s been gone for 26 years and I still miss her every day. Hugh Dennis – he’s such good value: very erudite, funny and pretty easy on the eye too. Margaret Thatcher – just so I can take her to task over the appalling fallout of her catastrophic policy decisions around school food provision and teaching cooking back in 1982-83.