Writing about food and this great industry is one of my passions, which is why I’m in the middle of compiling a feature on food award ceremonies. In the meantime, and sticking with this theme, I bring you an exciting Q&A with Asad Moghal, the Inward Investment and PR Officer for Marketing Derby.

Asad has been with Marketing Derby for two years and joined after completing his degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Derby. One of his duties is managing the prestigious Derby Food and Drink Awards; here is what he had to say about the exciting upcoming awards.

How did the Derby Food & Drink Awards come to be?

The Awards are now in their eighth year, and each year go from strength to strength. Derby has a buzzing food and drink scene, and we believe somebody has to shine a light on it.

How long does it take to organise the Derby Food & Drink Awards? I imagine there is plenty of planning involved!

The planning never ends! We start preparing for the Awards around March – this includes booking the venue, working out the timescales, researching into the sector, etc.

We then begin crafting our PR strategy; PR and marketing are massive aspects of the Awards. We have to ensure that the public, and the sector itself, are aware of the Food and Drink Awards. This is an opportunity for the public to recognise Derby’s best, therefore we work closely with our media partners to ensure the public are aware of it.

We always tend to launch in July. This gives us a little over a month for nominations, and roughly six-week period for the judges to visit their establishments.

At the actual ceremony we host a mini-market, this is an opportunity for local food producers to show off what they do to over 350 industry professionals. We always source these weeks before the ceremony, and are always looking for volunteers.

The ceremony itself is always fun to organise, thanks to the hard work of the Roundhouse Events team – they take out the headache!

How big is your team and what are the logistics (staff, man hours, etc.) to make the night happen?

Marketing Derby is a fairly small company; including our MD, there are only nine of us, and only four of us actually work on the Awards.

These Awards take a lot of work to organise, from the digital aspect, to writing the script for the night, to counting the nominations, to organising the press; however, we have one of the hardest working teams in the city. You know you can rely on your team to ensure the event runs smoothly.

In terms of man hours, I haven’t actually worked that out, though I imagine I’d go crazy if I did!

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Tell us, what you’d be doing in the run-up to the awards 24-hours beforehand.

I will be running around like a headless chicken! Not really, the day before the ceremony I meet with our partners to ensure everything is ok.

I’ll meet with Roundhouse events to make sure they’re all set; I’ll meet with the speakers to go over the script; I’ll meet with the market holders to make sure they’ve got everything they need and are ok; I’ll meet with press to make sure they have all the right details; and we’ll have an internal meeting to make sure everybody knows what they’re doing on the night.

How do you feel the Derby dining scene has changed over the past few years?

Derby’s dining scene has become more diverse over the last few years – there’s a great range of British, Italian, Indian, Caribbean, Mexican and French cuisine in the city. As well as some brilliant, cafés, pubs and bars – this shows no signs of slowing down. There are some outstanding establishments coming over the horizon.

How do you think the Derby dining scene can be improved?

It would be great to see a few more independent restaurants and bars pop up in the city centre. I feel a city’s dining scene can be measured by its independents.

What would you say to businesses thinking of investing in the Derby dining scene?

Do it! The scene is thriving, with the likes of Turtle Bay, MEXIco and Cosy Club as great examples of recent investments into the city.

There has never been a better time to join an eclectic mixture of chains and independents in Derby.

What can attendees look forward to, at this year’s Derby Food & Drink Awards?

Quite simply – being entertained!

Thank you for your time Asad! To fellow foodies, don’t forget to nominate your favourite restaurant by hopping onto website www.derbyawards.co.uk/nominate now.

*Credit to Cactus Images for photos supplied*

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