WITH more than 600 entries from all over the world – and finalists flying in from Dubai and Canada – the eventual winner didn't have far to come to pick up this year's Mogford Prize.

A surprised but delighted Martin Pevsner, 53, of Cowley Road, Oxford, was awarded £7,500 in the fourth annual short story competition for food and drink writing.

"I thought the winner was told in advance and no one had said anything to me, so I wasn't expecting to hear I'd won," said the dad-of-three.

He was presented with his prize by award founder Jeremy Mogford during a party for more than 100 people at the newly renovated Quod Bar and Brasserie in High Street, Oxford.

Brown's restaurant founder Mr Mogford, whose current Oxford collection is Quod, Old Bank Hotel, the Old Parsonage and Gee’s Restaurant, started the awards in 2013.

"The city of Oxford has been an historical centre for literary excellence, so it seemed the perfect idea to create and sponsor an annual short story prize that specifically included the subjects of food and/or drink within the plot," he said.

As well as providing the cash prize, Mr Mogford paid travel expenses for the four finalists to attend the award party at Quod, and treated them to a private dinner and accommodation at the Old Bank Hotel.

From 613 entries, a long list of 16 was reduced to four by judges including novelist Lawrence Norfolk and celebrity chef Rick Stein.

It was open to any writer – published or unpublished – but had to be a new work of 2,500 words with food and/or drink at its heart.

The stories and authors were Çay by Mr Pevsner, a librarian for the anthropology department at the Bodleian; Marlow Bridge in Summer by author Jeremy Worman from Hackney; Let Them Eat Cake by British journalist Tahira Yaqoob, who lives and works in Dubai, and A Manual for Living With Defeat by Canadian writer DW Wilson.

Mr Norfolk said he was impressed by the high standard of entries.

"I have been astounded so many people can write so well about food as it's popularly believed to be impossible," he said. "I would have been happy for any of 12 of the final 16 to have won."

The winning story is a moving tale that features three characters drinking sweet cay (tea), inspired partly by Mr Pevsner's time teaching English language skills to asylum-seekers and refugees in Oxford and also by a family holiday to Istanbul.

"Each of the three are having problems," said Mr Pevsner who has had one novel, Divinity Road, published and plans to spend his winnings "spoiling" wife Elaine and their family.

As well as the money, the winning story will also be available in audio format produced by The Story Player and will be linked in with National Short Story Week in November.