The winners of this year's André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards were announced in London last night by wine-loving Man Booker-winning novelist Julian Barnes and cookery writer Annie Bell at the Goring hotel in London. Nick Lander was the urbane master of ceremonies.
Congratulations to Purple Pager Wink Lorch, whose Jura Wine, a successfully crowd-funded book, won the top prize in the drink category. Judges described it as 'exhaustively researched, packed with information and full of good photos'. Assessor Julian Barnes wryly remarked: 'Jura Wine is the first proper book in English about the wines of Jura. When its author took her first-ever glass of it, she thought it was "weird". It is a reaction many of us have shared, and perhaps not got beyond. Happily for us, she did, and has produced a personal and deeply committed guide to this often intractable region.'
Wink could not be there to receive her award in person as she is in Buenos Aires, taking the long way home after a six-month secondment as editor of the Wine-Searcher online magazine. Photographer Mick Rock accepted the award on her behalf and Wink sent the following message: 'I am hugely grateful to the André Simon awards judges for choosing my Jura WIne book for the best drinks book award, a real honour especially as André Simon himself loved to write about French wines. Great news for the little Jura wine region and for me too, with thanks to my wonderful team who helped create the book, and to the Kickstarter supporters.'
The judges were so enthusiastic about the merits, and especially the humour, of Sediment, by Paul Keers (below centre) and Charles Jennings (below left), bloggers who go under the pen names of PK and CJ and write about the 'social, financial, personal and marital issues surrounding middle-class wine drinking', that it won the John Avery award. Barnes (below right) described it as 'Not just laugh-aloud funny but snortingly, choke-on- your-cornflakes funny – up there with Kingsley Amis and Jay McInerney.' In their acceptance speech, they referred to Barnes's own book The Pedant in the Kitchen – if you haven't read it, a treat awaits.
Meanwhile the award for the best food writing went to writer and photographer Mark Diacono – known for his commitment to sustainable, ethically sourced food – for his 2014 publication, A Year at Otter Farm. Annie Bell, assessor for the food books, said 'A Year at Otter Farm centres on the story of how Mark Diacono set out to plant the country’s first climate-change farm, and if this isn’t enough of an achievement, his recipes are skilfully crafted, real, accessible and down-to-earth, but equally very accomplished. The photographs are beautiful, and Mark writes like an angel. But it’s the way these elements are in complete harmony with each other that makes this book so outstanding.'
Philosopher Julian Baggini’s book The Virtues of the Table, 'which looks at how we eat, farm and shop for food and what these choices say about us', was awarded a Special Commendation.
This year’s shortlisted authors – selected from over 150 entries – also included Justin Gellatly (Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding), Hattie Ellis (Spoonfuls of Honey), Sarit Parker & Itamar Srulovich (Honey & Co), Oliver Gladwin, Richard Gladwin & Gregory Gladwin (The Shed: The Cookbook), Meera Sodha (Made in India), Isabelle Legeron (Natural Wine), Talia Baoicchi (Sherry) and Dieter Braatz, Ulrich Sautter & Ingo Swoboa (Wine Atlas of Germany).