Schoolgirl Becomes Youngest Winner at U.K. Food Awards

Martha Payne, a nine-year-old who gained international attention through a blog that highlighted the poor quality of her school meals, last night became the youngest-ever winner of an Observer Food Monthly award.

The Scottish girl became an Internet star when her local council tried to stop her posting photographs of the food she was served. The council backed down and she went on to document the daily meals of children around the world and raised enough money to feed 10,000 children in Malawi.

She describes her blog http://neverseconds.blogspot.co.uk/ as being, “One primary school pupil’s daily dose of school dinners.”

“She demonstrated there is more to food-blogging than moaning about Michelin stars or drooling over the latest hip burger joint,” Allan Jenkins, editor of Observer Food Monthly, said in an e-mailed release about her best U.K. food blog award.

Payne, who has been feted by chef Jamie Oliver, returned this week from a trip to Malawi, where she visited schools. On her blog, she says: “My dad says I should call myself Veritas Ex Gustu, truth from tasting in Latin but who knows Latin? You can call me Veg.” She attended the awards with her father, David.

Other winners in the annual awards, presented at Victoria House, London, included: Restaurateur Terence Conran for lifetime achievement; chef Raymond Blanc for outstanding contribution; Adam Smith of the Ritz for young chef; Young Turks collective for best newcomer; and Tayyabs for best cheap eats.

“The winners of the 2012 OFM Awards represent the spectrum of food that this country currently has to offer, from the East End Pakistani grill house Tayyabs to Terence Conran, the most influential restaurateur ever in the U.K.,” judge and chef Angela Hartnett said in the release.

Observer Food Monthly is distributed free with the Observer newspaper.

Last night’s winners included:

Lifetime achievement: Terence Conran
Outstanding contribution: Raymond Blanc
Young chef: Adam Smith, senior sous, Ritz Hotel Restaurant
Best newcomer:  Young Turks, London
Best producer: Cultivate London
Food personality: Nigel Slater
Best cookbook: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, “River Cottage Veg
Every Day”
Best food blog: Martha Payne, NeverSeconds
Best restaurant: The Seahorse, Dartmouth
Best cheap eats: Tayyabs
Best Sunday lunch: The Parlour, Chorlton
Best ethical restaurant: Create, Leeds
Best place to drink: Zetter Townhouse, London
Best independent local retailer: Growing Communities, London

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Lewis Lapham on history and Zinta Lundborg’s New York weekend.

To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines in London at rvines@bloomberg.net or http://twitter.com/Richardvines.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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