The Handbook
The Handbook

When is a food and drink awards not a food and drink awards? Well not when it’s lockdown, because the show will go on. Notably absent from this year’s Fortnum & Mason food and drink awards are either food, drink or anyone to physically receive the awards, but what we do get is an online event that features Claudia Winkleman, a special celeb guest (so presumably someone more impressive than Winkleman) and some of our favourite food and drink writers. And we can all enjoy it from home, which is actually all the better.

The annual event celebrates some of the country’s best food and drink writers, and given there’s little else other than cook books that we read right now (there’s only so many coronavirus news reports you can stomach in one sitting) we’re all ears. Or, rather, eyes.

The entire ceremony will be wrapped up in just 13 minutes (presumably Winkleman charges by the second), which means you can tune in at 6pm as you open your pre-dinner bottle of wine (I’m assuming after six weeks of this we’re all now alcoholics) and take the edge off whatever they’ve announced in the Downing Street briefing before dinner and another early night.

Up for honours at this year’s awards are the likes of the wonderful Felicity Cloake and her One More Croissant For The Road travelogue/foodelogue,  as well as Tom Parker Bowles and Jay Rayner, but the real delight is to be introduced to so many authors we don’t see on the front page of the Guardian every week and to experience books that we might have otherwise missed, particularly now we can’t go and mooch around Daunt Books on our lunch breaks. The Whole Fish by Josh Niland or Infused, Adventures in Tea by Henrietta Lovell or Bee Wilson’s The Way We Eat Now to mention a smattering.

The full shortlists are online here and it’s well worth a browse. The awards will be streamed on the historic shop’s YouTube Channel and fronted by Winckleman alongside Fortnum’s CEO Ewan Venters. They will be joined by a very special secret guest. Normally that means it’s going to be H off of Steps or similar, but no, I’ve been told who it is and it’s actually a pretty impressive proper secret guest.

Tune in at 6pm tonight, and find out who, plus all the winners, runners and riders. We’ll be there, drinking Fortnum’s tea and nibbing their bikkies.

www.youtube.com

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