TWO local companies are celebrating success after clinching top accolades at an artisan food awards.

St.James Cheese, produced by Martin Gott and Nicola Robinson at Holker Farm Dairy, Cark, was awarded a gold medal by food and drink journalist Nigel Barden and premium cooking appliance manufacturer Britannia for The UK wide Britannia Artisan Food Collection, north division.

Martin Gott said: “This award is really welcome especially at the moment as the plight of artisan cheese makers up and down the UK is dire at the moment, with many concerned for their future.

“Now more than ever we need people to support British artisan cheese makers and to buy farm made cheeses to help these passionate food producers survive.”

Hawkshead Relish, based at Esthwaite, took second place with their Indian Sweet Pepper Pickle.

Maria Whitehead, co-owner and director of Hawkshead Relish, said: “We are thrilled to win a silver award.

"Our Indian Sweet Pepper Pickle is most definitely a staple for any curry enthusiast and has so many diverse uses in any number of dishes.

“From the very outset we have tried to create a range of relishes, pickles, and conserves that home cooks can use to enhance their dishes and add real interest to mealtimes.”

Members of the public were invited to nominate artisan food producers from across the UK, the shortlist were then awarded a place on Britannia’s Artisan Food Collection map.

A top three and final winner was selected from each region.

Nigel Barden commented on the two producers: “St. James, our northern Gold Medal champion, combines excellent agricultural husbandry with the ability to create one of the great artisanal, seasonal products.

“These relaxed sheep are only milked once a day and the ensuing cheese is washed three times a week for a month, in brine, to produce a delicate orange rind and a two kilogram square cheese, that was soft, gooey, spongy, sweet and yet also savoury.

“Complex and intriguing with an enticing rich and gently astringent nose.”

Of Hawkshead Relish Mr Barden said: “Hawkshead Relish, our Silver Medal champion, uses only the very best ingredients to create great artisan products.

"The whole Hawkshead Relish team should be proud of their achievements.

"They have the most amazing range of products which are so versatile and should be part of any home cook’s armoury.”