The ceremony for the 2020 FOOD XX Awards, may have been postponed due to the pandemic, but it has certainly not lost its impact. “In fact, considering the year that’s been it’s even more important to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing women in the food and drinks industry who have shown such strength and resilience,” says Elizka Ferreira, Head Brand Communications: Woolworths Food, Special Occasions, Engen and TASTE, who believes the announcement of the winners in Women’s Month, is especially fitting at this time.

When Hannerie Visser, FOOD XX (pronounced: /fuːd eks eks/) director and founder of Studio H, launched the FOOD XX Awards in 2019, little did she know that the biggest challenge for her beloved industry was about to hit. “We wanted to create a platform where we could celebrate and support other women in the industry, which is needed now more than ever. This year we are celebrating an exceptional group of strong, powerful and resilient women who have fought to keep their businesses alive, and who have navigated the biggest crisis of their lives with strength, poise and grace,” says Visser.

Visser decided to make the announcement online in Women’s Month – an ideal time to spread the love and share the good news around the winners of the 2nd annual FOOD XX Women in Food Awards, in partnership with Woolworths. The winners will be announced at 10am on Tuesday 3rd August via Instagram on the Studio H page. The announcement will be followed with live Instagram discussions for the rest of the month.

Nominations were open to the public and the awards were judged by the inaugural winners who selected a winner in each category. A total of 17 women will be honoured: 16 category specific winners and a new category for Newcomer. “The Newcomer category was a late addition,” explains Visser. “It’s been a really hard year in the industry and so many people have lost so much, but despite this they just keep on going. It’s an absolutely inspiring example of the spirit of sisterhood – we are stronger together and magical things happen when women stand up for other women. I felt it was extremely important to honour women in this way right now.”

The winners per category for the second edition of the FOOD XX Awards are:

Alcohol: Laurie Cooper – winemaker and sommelier at Abingdon Wine Estate

Bakers: Mo Lewis – owner of The Accidental Baker

Entrepreneurs: Nobhongo Gxolo – founder of Third Culture Experiment food club

Farming: Joy Phala – educator, landscape designer and founder of Organic Kitchen Gardens

Food Educator: Dr Tracy Nelwamondo – health coach, food activist and founder of Modern Traditions

Food Icon: Cass Abrahams – food historian and author

Food Styling: Georgia East – writer, food stylist, photographer and blogger at East After Noon

Fresh Voices: Bathandwa Nkambule – recipe developer and content creator at The Earthy Cook

Front of House: Simnikiwe Mkhize – Rosetta Roastery

Future Food: Mokgadi Itsweng – chef, writer, food stylist, activist and co-founder of Lotsha Foods / Uju Spice

Giving Back: Stephanie Simbo – hospitality educator and co-founder of Beyond Bars Akademia

Heritage: Loubie Rusch – urban forager, indigenous food activist and founder of Making KOS

In the Kitchen: Carla Schulze – chef at The Test Kitchen

Secret Ingredient: Maria Van Zyl – owner of Cream of the Crop cultured butter

Sustainability: Thekla Teunis – founder and director of Grounded

Judges’ Choice: Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela – brew master and founder of Brewster’s Craft

Newcomer: Mmabatho Molefe – chef and owner of Emazulwini

“Our winners – and all our finalists – are proof that our industry is full of hard-working, creative and innovative women who not only push boundaries, but continue to push forward,” concludes Visser. “We salute each and every woman in the industry – every person who has made it through, who has lost it all, who started again, who adjusted their offerings, who lost people dear to them, who made mistakes, who learned from their mistakes, who got up and kept fighting. We love and support everyone.”

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