Harry’s Shack gains London laurels

Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner and Claudia Winkleman present the Best newcomer in food and drink award to Harry's Shack at the Observer Food Awards 2015, held at Freemasons Hall in London, 15 October 2015. Photograph Alicia Canter for the Observer
Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner and Claudia Winkleman present the Best newcomer in food and drink award to Harry's Shack at the Observer Food Awards 2015, held at Freemasons Hall in London, 15 October 2015. Photograph Alicia Canter for the Observer

An English national newspaper has named Harry’s Shack in Portstewart the best newcomer in food and drink at a prestigious award ceremony in London.

The acclaimed beach café on the North Coast, which is run by local man, Donal Doherty, is an offshoot of Harry’s restauraunt just across the border in Bridgend.

The outlet has already enjoyed rave reviews; food critic Jay Rayner ate the whitebait and wrote: “It’s as simple as this: coming to Northern Ireland right now and not going to Harry’s Shack would be a stupid thing to do. Just ask a local.”

It’s now added a 2015 Observer Food Monthly Award to the laurels.

The awards are voted for by both Observer readers and a judging panel and champions the best producers, restaurants, retailers and bloggers in the UK.

Claudia Winkleman and the aforementioned Mr Rayner co-hosted this year’s celebrations and were joined by Observer Food Monthly editor Allan Jenkins, who introduced the evening.

Harry’s was in good company.

Mary Berry won the celebrated lifetime achievement award for her outstanding contribution to culinary arts. With over 50 years experience, The Great British Bake Off star is a longstanding name in both the television and food industries. The judge-voted category also honoured up-and-coming 21-year-old chef George O’Leary, Demi Chef de Parti at the two-Michelin starred Hand and Flowers in Marlow, awarding him young chef of the year.

Readers voted The Palomar in London as best restaurant and Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge came top in the best food personality category. The West Country born chef was among those who received the back-to-basics designed chef’s knife trophies created by Blok Knives for the event. Restaurateur and chef Yotam Ottolenghi won best new cookbook for ‘Plenty More’ and South London restaurant The Clink, which gives practical skills to prisoners allowing them to learn and engage with the wider public, was awarded best ethical restaurant.

Other winners included Altrincham Market in Cheshire, which won best local market, Beanies Wholefoods in Sheffield, which took away the prize for best independent retailer and food blogger Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella who won best food blog.

Observer Food Monthly editor Allan Jenkins said: “This year’s Observer Food Monthly awards mark the 12th year of celebrating the best of British food and drink. From a brilliant beach shack on the coast of Northern Ireland to an inspirational fresh vegetable producer in South Wales, this year’s winners demonstrate a passion for great food from all over the UK. With six winners coming from outside the capital, London better look out.”

Speaking on receiving the lifetime achievement award, Mary Berry said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to receive the lifetime achievement award. It’s a great honour to be recognised for doing something I love and I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to have a career in an industry that I feel so passionate about.”