Taste of success for Cook & Barker

A Northumberland inn has been rewarded for combining good food and drink while playing an important role in the local community.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 11:00 am
William Farmer and Phil Farmer with their Countryside Alliance Award.
William Farmer and Phil Farmer with their Countryside Alliance Award.

The Cook and Barker at Newton-on-the-Moor won best North East pub at the 2019 Countryside Alliance Awards, known as the Rural Oscars.

It is recognition for the efforts made by owner Phil Farmer and his team who will now represesent the region at the national finals in London.

“I am over the moon about it,” said Phil. “It’s a lot of hard work running a place like this so it’s nice to receive this recognition, especially as it comes from being nominated.

“It’s good cause for a double celebration as we celebrate our 30th anniversary here on June 4.”

Judges praised the development of the Cook and Barker under his tenure ‘from a simple bar to the enterprise it is today, which is dedicated to serving good food, drink and accommodation while still acting as a community hub.

‘Food is also Phil’s passion, so much so that he has bought a farm so he can provide top quality local produce for the pub and he is always on the lookout for other local suppliers to support.’

The awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage by small hard-working businesses.

This year, more than 17,000 nominations were received across five categories.

Other regional winners were: Village Shop – Cornhill on Tweed Shop, Cafe and Post Office; Butcher – RG Foreman & Son, Norham; Rural Enterprise – Home from Home Boarding Kennels and Cattery, Allerburn, Heddon-on-the-Wall; Local Food & Drink – Hutchinson Hobbs Farm Shop, Castlelevington, Yarm.

Judges praises the Cornhill shop for ‘its focus on great local produce, a warm welcome for all and a most caring regard for the elderly. Big supporters of community events and keen fund-raisers for Macmillan Cancer, raising over £100K, they are the hub of this community and are what a great village shop is all about.’

RG Foreman were described as ‘very skilled and knowledgeable butchers with bucket loads of expertise providing first class produce’.

Judges added: ‘They talk kindly about the animals, and their welfare is clearly of great concern to them, which means they only source direct from local farmers. The business is growing, with them taking an innovative approach to what they sell. Being keen fisherman themselves, they have also branched out into fishing tackle for those coming to fish the Tweed, which is novel for a butchers!’

Countryside Alliance Awards director, Sarah Lee, said: “This year’s regional winners are all truly exceptional. We have been overwhelmed by nominations this year.

“The secret to the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just their produce or services. They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don’t seek the spotlight.

“These awards provide a cause for celebration in a time of great uncertainty in the countryside. Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition.”

The regional winners advance to the national finals at the House of Lords on June 19.