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What went down at The UK’s Top New Restaurant Awards

Written by Travel Adventures

The UK food industry isn’t shy of a party. So when we announced the first-ever event to celebrate the UK’s top new restaurantsa list of the 23 very-best openings across the country in 2023, as voted for by a crack team of expert judges – we knew that the guests would be well-prepared to turn out and mark the occasion.

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Shoreditch Arts Club, our venue for the evening

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The crowd gathered inside for Champagne and canapés

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And turn out they did. As cars started to pull up to Shoreditch Arts Club, our venue for the evening, enormous screens inside danced with mouthwatering pictures of some of our favourite restaurants and dishes. Inside, familiar faces from the food industry (Raymond Blanc! Ravinder Bhogal! Romy Gill! Jackson Boxer!) were snaffled away by our red carpet reporters Mam Sham for a debrief on all the spots they’re dying to try (and the food trends they’re leaving behind in 2023).

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Bollinger Champagne, lined up for the arriving guests

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Lorraine Copes with Adejoké Bakare

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Trays of Bollinger Champagne were whisked about the room, and before long, guests were gathering eagerly as global editorial director Divia Thani took to the stage to say a few short but sweet words. “Food – like travel – has the ability to change the way people think about different parts of the world,” she told the audience. “Like travel, food has the power to create conversations, open up dialogues, and become the gateway into truly discovering and understanding a culture and community that is not our own. It has the power to break down myths and misconceptions and truly bring people together.”

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G&Ts were in high demand at the bar

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Ruth Rogers collects her lifetime achievement award with Jeremy King OBE and Divia Thani

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But with the aim of spotlighting the incredible winners of this year’s awards, the ceremony swiftly moved onto the 23 new restaurants that have been named one of the best by this year’s judging panel to raucous applause from the crowd, before we invited some special guests to the stage.

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The winners of the UK’s Top New Restaurant Awards

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Chef-founder of Murano and judging panel member Angela Hartnett OBE spoke passionately about Lorraine Copes, the winner of the game-changer award, who received the honour for her pioneering approach to inclusive hospitality. Next, chef and writer Gizzi Erskine (another member of the judging panel) waxed lyrical about Ruben Dawnay (aka Ruben’s Reubens), our 23-year-old winner of the one to watch award. Divia Thani crowned the best new chef, Adejoké Bakare. And finally, restaurant icon Jeremy King OBE took to the stage to give Ruth Rogers the lifetime achievement award.

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Angela Hartnett OBE chatting in the crowd

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Ruben Dawnay, Adejoké Bakare and Lorraine Copes

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With the best of what’s new and exciting on the UK food scene right now suitably celebrated, DJ Aryell took over the sound system, and guests flooded to the bar for more Champagne, Penfolds wine and Gin Mare G&Ts while snacking on roast beef or cavolo nero canapés. Of course, a crowd of chefs were going to require a more robust supper sooner or later – so a late-night delivery of Shake Shack was in order.


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