BBC’s Great British Menu judge Matthew Fort, who presented the Publican’s Morning Advertiser’s Top 50 Gastropubs Awards last week, hailed the hospitality genre as it goes from strength to strength.
"Gastropubs represent the most important development in eating and dining in the last 50 years," Fort told the PMA. "They make good - sometimes great - food and are accessible to people at decent prices. They will only get more numerous and better thanks to awards such as the Top 50 Gastropubs."
Fort was speaking at the awards, which took place last week and saw Tom Kerridge of the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire crowned victorious at number one for the third year running.
"The Hand & Flowers has set new standards for gastropubs in this country," said Fort. "Tom Kerridge has brought not just an extraordinary level of professional skill to a pub, but also passion, dedication and good humour, which has resulted in the Hand & Flowers being recognised by guides, awards and customers alike.
"There was a lot of competition there, when there are so many gastropubs of extraordinary quality across the country.
"I think anything that recognises the extraordinary contribution that gastropubs bring and those who run the front of house operation is to be applauded."
The Hand & Flowers, which has just been extended to include a bigger bar and new lounge area, is now fully booked for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings until January 2015.
Kerridge recently attended the launch of Greene King’s St Edmund Brewhouse, marking the beginning of plans for a closer relationship between the chef and the brewer.