Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Service station scoops food prize

Tebay Services
The situation of Tebay services was also praised

A motorway service station in Cumbria has gained a food award previously won by the Prince of Wales and restaurateurs the Roux brothers.

Tebay Services scooped the 2009 British Academy of Gastronomes' Grand Prix.

It honours anyone or anything that has done most to improve the quality of food in the UK in the previous year.

UK service stations are not usually noted for their fine dining experience - in 2004 they were voted the worst in Europe by the AA motoring trust.

The Tebay service station, which opened in 1972, specialises in local produce and home-made dishes.

Its home-made potato soup made such an impression on one renowned food critic that he recalled it fondly 25 years later.

'Nothing institutional'

Previous winners of its Grand Prix of Gastronomy include the Prince of Wales for reviving interest in British mutton and the Roux brothers for boosting British restaurant standards.

Egon Ronay, who founded the British Academy of Gastronomes in 1983, said of Tebay Services: "I first visited them for the first survey of motorway service areas, at least 25 years ago.

"And I remember I was struck right away by the quality of everything I had. Nothing was mass produced.

"The bread was homemade and I still remember to this day there was a wonderful potato soup, clearly homemade.

He added: "It's also very beautifully sited next to a lake, there's nothing institutional at all about it, it's like a club at home."

Sarah Dunning, chief executive of Westmorland Co Ltd which owns Tebay services, said: "Our policy is to sustain local produce and make a constructive impact on the growth of local communities."

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