The hotly anticipated YBF (Young British Foodie) Awards were announced on Tuesday 24th September in London. Now in their eighth year, the organisation was set up to discover and celebrate grassroots talent in the industry and the unsung heroes who deserve to be championed.

There were ten categories in total but here are a few winners that caught our eye…

Mexican born Santiago Lastrawon the chef category – he ran Noma Mexico alongside Rene Redzepi and will soon be popping up in the dining space at Mimo cookery school in Borough Market. Santiago’s own restaurant Kol is due to open in early 2020 and the pop-up will preview what’s to come – Mexican food using the finest UK ingredients.

Pasties are very close to our hearts at Wild West so it was great to see Lee Wakeham of H.M Pasties scoop the award for ‘Giving Back’. Ex-offender Lee set up the initiative to ‘bring out the good inside’ by employing ex-offenders to make and sell delicious handmade Cornish-style pasties in the Greater Manchester area. Similar initiatives have seen a 41% reduction in reoffending, and it provides a solution to gaining employment post-sentence, due to the stigma that surrounds it.

In other exciting news for Cornwall, the awards saw Haley Sugden of The Old Custom House in St Ives win the award for Front of House. Haley trained at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall where she developed a passion for customer service. She went on to work at The Scarlet, before opening her own restaurant with chef and partner, Steve Knowles. Haley leads by example with kindness, enthusiasm and a genuine passion for her guests to have the best possible experience. You can learn to provide great service, but the really special qualities come from within – and Haley is a natural.

From great customer service to careful sourcing, this year’s YBFs also kept up with the nation’s hottest food movement by representing best practice for sustainability in the industry.  Provenance and traceability featured at the heart of the nominations, with Kathy Slack, founder of organic allotment food blog and supper club Gluts & Gluttonyand Lizzy Douglas of The Black Pig Butcherstaking home awards for Vegetable and Meat respectively.  Combining locally sourced ingredients with artisanal food preparation, both of these brands have championed quality produce and sustainable sourcing to grow a strong network of followers.

Trailblazing sustainability is also at the heart of this year’s Honorary award winner, Dapaah Chocolates.  Founded by Raphael and Kwaku Dapaah from their great-great grandmother’s cocoa plantations, the Ghanaian brand’s mission of becoming a leading sustainable chocolate brand that gives back to the community drives their business practices. Dapaah’s dairy-free chocolates are handcrafted from bean to bar by cocoa farmers that are not only well paid for their work but can contribute to an agricultural revolution that sees more young people realising the benefits of industrial farming as a livelihood. Already a fast-growing brand in the UK, Dapaah’s work to disrupt the chocolate industry’s status quo appeals to the modern shopper: it’s a brand that cares about bigger world issues.