Best Newcomer named at Norfolk Food & Drink Awards 2023

Left to right: Jude Porter, Alfie Coe, Edd Watkinson, Hannah Winter (sponsor - Bread Source) <i>(Image: Matthew Potter Photographer and Videographer)</i>
Left to right: Jude Porter, Alfie Coe, Edd Watkinson, Hannah Winter (sponsor - Bread Source) (Image: Matthew Potter Photographer and Videographer)

The Bodega in Norwich has been named the winner of the Best Newcomer award, sponsored by Bread Source, at the Norfolk Food & Drink Awards 2023.

The Bodega is a New York inspired sandwich shop based on Norwich Market. Run by chef Edd Watkinson, it offers a variety of different sandwiches with flavour combinations from around the world.

The Bodega has been open for just over a year and has expanded into pop ups in other local businesses and at events.

The judges said that Bodega made waves in the Norfolk food scene with instantly recognisable signature sandwiches.

“Edd showed an entrepreneurial spirit, a full commitment to the business and has a clear vision for its future,” they said. “This is a ‘proper’ start-up business fuelled with his own savings, grit, determination and the willingness to work all the hours under the sun to make it work.

“The target audience is evident, branding is on-point, the business easily replicated and is financially viable.”

Owner Edd Watkinson said: “Winning this award means so much to me and the team. We love what we do and put all of our passion into everything we make.

“To be in a room full of Norfolk’s best hospitality teams and be presented with an award is just mental, especially as we’ve only been open for just over a year. It was definitely unexpected!”

Finalist: Hirst’s Farm Shop & Cafe

The Hirst family have been farming in Norfolk for four generations, as well as running the popular Hirsty’s Fun Park near Great Yarmouth.

Hirst’s Farm Shop & Cafe was set up by Becca Hirst and her husband Rob in 2020. Sadly, Becca lost her fight with cancer this year. The recent cafe expansion has been named ‘Becca’s Barn’ in her memory.

The judges described Hirst as a farm shop with a difference.

“It was evident that they have utilised their farming background to create a successful business,” they said. “It was also great to see that they are providing vital local jobs to the community and the surrounding area is very lucky to have them.”

Finalist: The White Hart, Ashill

The White Hart is run by Naomi and Jonathan Pearson, who gave up their careers to take on their village pub in 2020.

They’ve created a rural pub with a difference, a haven for both food lovers and drinkers.

The judges felt that community is at the very centre of the pub’s ethos and Naomi and Jonathan should be very proud of their achievements so far.

“We were captivated with their energy, vision and financial investment into making a flourishing business,” said the judges. “Hard work has played a major role in this business reaching the final.”

To find out more about all the winners, please click here.

For more information on the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards, please visit