George and Dragon – winners of the ‘Dining Pub of the Year’ category at the 2014 Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards

Cumbria’s food has undergone a remarkable transformation, writer and Great British menu judge Matthew Fort said after hosting the third Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards.

More than 190 of Cumbria’s producers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and chefs gathered at Kendal College on April 3 to hear Matthew reveal the winners of this year’s 18 awards, following a three-course meal cooked and served by students and staff. Matthew said afterwards: ”I had a really wonderful time. It was a splendid occasion in every sense, but best of all in my view was the palpable sense of community in the college and among the people there. I know something of the diversity and quality of the food produced in the North West but I was surprised by the way the food scene has grown and improved in a remarkably short space of time. Long may it continue and long may Cumbria Life support it.”

After several years as runners up, the George and Dragon were the winners of the ‘Dining Pub of the Year’ category.

What the judges said: ”Revitalised under new head chef Ian Jackson and delivering outstanding food. A great atmosphere an excellent service.”

Owner Charles Lowther said: ”This award is a really big deal for all of us. We’ve changed the whole team in the kitchen in the last year and a half and this is great recognition for Ian, his sous chef, Kyle Bowman, and all the staff. Ian has a brilliant background at Sharrow Bay and the Rampsbeck Hotel but he says this is the best thing to happen in his career so far! It’s a nervous  time when you change the style of cooking you offer – though the one thing that has remained consistent is the emphasis on the produce we grow and rear.”