'Best Restaurant' award for Penarth's Fig Tree
'SPECIAL’: Assembly member Alun Davies, Fig Tree owner Mike Caplan-Hill, restaurant manager Sandie Guppy, and restaurant sous chef Tom Westerland.
A PENARTH restaurant, based in the restored Victorian beach shelter on the Esplanade, is celebrating after winning best restaurant in the ‘Welsh Food Oscars’.
The Fig Tree was awarded the Gold ‘People’s Choice’ Food Award in the 2012 Wales True Taste Food and Drink Awards last week.
The award was presented at the Royal Welsh Show, following a public vote which saw the shortlisted entrants judged on criteria such as the quality of ingredients, local sourcing, the skill involved in cooking/preparation and the quality of service.
Fig Tree owner Mike Caplan-Hill said the fact it was down to public opinion made it all the more special.
"We're so flattered to have won this award,” he said.
“We are so lucky to have so many local people who support us and this award gives us an enormous boost.
“Around 150 restaurants were shortlisted from across the country and when we found out we had won on the day we were all gobsmacked," he added.
“The fact that it is voted for by people, who took time out of their daily lives to fill out applications on our behalf, just backs up my vision and everything we try to do here."
It is the first time a restaurant in the Vale of Glamorgan has won the award.
Mike, who cooks at the restaurant around three times a week and who provided a cooking demonstration at the Royal Welsh Show producing a Carmarthenshire spider-crab ravioli which will be available on the menu at the Fig Tree soon, added: “It’s good for Penarth and good for the Vale.
“Winning this award was a fantastic indication to us that the customers are happy and we’re providing fresh food that people want.
"When I opened the Fig Tree I wanted it to be the sort of place I would want to eat – I’m glad other people feel the same.”
The True Taste judge, who dined at the restaurant as a 'mystery shopper' before introducing himself to staff, said: “The sense of the place bursts through the large windows – the sea, the esplanade and the pier.”
Past winners of the award include Michelin Star restaurant The Crown at Whitebrook, and The Hardwick in Abergavenny.
Chair of the Welsh Culinary Association, Peter Jackson, who oversees the judging for the Awards, said: “This was the public’s opportunity to recognise their favourite food businesses and to share them with others.
“You can be assured that the winners all produce food at the highest quality and have something very special to offer their customers.”
The Fig Tree, which also made it into the Good Food Guide earlier this year and celebrated its third anniversary on July 21, was presented with a trophy, free marketing from an associated PR firm, and branded merchandise.
“Thank you to all our customers who voted for us and alerted the judges to what we do," added Mike.
“Now we just have to figure out how to celebrate!”
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Food, Alun Davies, said: “All of the winners can be proud to have achieved such a prestigious recommendation from the Welsh public and I hope that they display their awards with pride.”
The business and the people behind it were shown in a programme on ITV Wales on July 26, called 'A Taste of the Royal Welsh’.
To get in touch with the Fig Tree, which currently has an opportunity for a chef to join the kitchen, email email@example.com Alternatively log on to www.thefigtreepenarth.co.uk or call 02920 702512.