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Contribution to Fine Food award presented to Xanthe Clay

04/09/2019 Download PDF Download Plain Text

Esteemed chef and columnist, Xanthe Clay was presented with a Contribution to Fine Food award at the Great Taste Golden Fork Dinner, held on Sunday 1 September at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel, London. This special trophy, which recognises a knowledgeable individual who promotes small food producers with integrity, was announced in front of 350 guests from the world of fine food, who gathered to celebrate the grand finale of Great Taste 2019.


Having studied at Leiths School of Food & Wine, before becoming a regular columnist at The Daily Telegraph, Xanthe has continued to use her knowledge and influence to inspire and encourage others in the food industry for over two decades. With a deep rooted love for home cooking and five accessible cookery books to her name, Xanthe, who is also Academy Chair for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, knows all too well the hard work and dedication that goes into making top quality food, so has been a valuable palate on both the Great Taste and World Cheese Awards judging teams.


John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of Great Taste, explains: “There are now too many writers and so-called opinion-formers out there, who actually don’t know enough about food and drink, with content seemingly generated to satisfy celebrity rather than imparting knowledge. This style over substance approach is concerning but Xanthe Clay has the rare ability to demonstrate both style and substance in her work, which is put to such good use in the promotion of excellence in food and drink, wherever she finds it.”

What is Great Taste?  Great Taste, founded in 1994 and organised by the Guild of Fine Food, has judged over 146,000 products in the last 25 years; each one has been blind-tasted by a team of judges who are dedicated to finding the most exquisite tasting food and drink regardless of branding or packaging. The panel of judges this year included; cook, writer and champion of sustainable food, Melissa Hemsley, Kenny Tutt, MasterChef 2018 champion, author, Olia Hercules, chef and food writer, Gill Meller, Kavi Thakar from Dishoom, food writer and stylist, Georgina Hayden and author and chef, Zoe Adjonyoh, as well as food buyers from Selfridges, Sourced Market and Partridges. These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners to finally agree on the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2019 Supreme Champion.   Great Taste ratings 3-star: Extraordinarily tasty foods – less than 3% of products are awarded a 3-star each year – don’t leave the shop without buying it! 2-star:  Above and beyond delicious – less than 10% of entries will achieve this rating 1-star: A food that delivers fantastic flavour. Approximately 25% of entries will achieve this rating each year.   Facts and figures about Great Taste 2019:
  • Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers
  • A record breaking 12,772 different products were entered in 2019
  • Entries were sent in from 104 different countries, including Australia, Brazil, Botswana, China, Indonesia, Russia and the USA, as well as 27 member countries of the EU
  • Over 500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, restaurateurs, retail buyers, cooks, producers and a host of food writers, journalists and social media influencers, blind tasted each product over 75 days
  • Judging took place at the following locations:
    • Guild HQ in Gillingham, Dorset, as well several other Dorset venues
    • The Guild of Fine Food’s London home, No. 42 Southwark Street, SE1
  • 3,409 awarded 1-star
  • 1,326 awarded 2-star
  • 208 awarded 3-star
What are Great Taste judges looking for? They’re looking for great texture and appearance. They judge the quality of ingredients and how well the maker has put the food or drink together. But above all, they are looking for truly great taste.   How do they work? Each team of four judges blind-tastes around 25 products per session, discussing each product as a coordinating food writer transcribes their comments directly onto the Great Taste website which producers access after judging is completed. Over the years, numerous food businesses, start-ups and well-established producers have been advised how to modify their foods and have subsequently gone on to achieve Great Taste stars. Any product that is deemed worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star Great Taste award is moved around multiple judging tables by a team of arbitrators before the final award is given. If judges feel that a product needs some adjustment, and is therefore not likely to receive an award, the food or drink gets a second chance on a referral table, where another team blind-tastes and deliberates. For a Great Taste 3-star award, the vast majority in the room - which can be as many as 30-40 experts - must agree that the food or drink delivers that indescribable ‘wow’ factor.   What do the stars mean for producers? Recognised as a reliable stamp of excellence among consumers, retailers and major food buyers alike, Great Taste success can be the gateway to exciting opportunities for food and drink producers. As well as seeing an uplift in sales and revenue, award-winning producers also get to enjoy raised awareness by appearing in the Great Taste book, a unique directory used by many food retailers, supplying samples for high profile events and exhibiting as part of Great Taste Markets at events including RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, CarFest and Countryfile Live. Receiving a 3-, 2- or 1-star rating for products really puts producers on the map, while opening doors to investment and export opportunities.   What should consumers look for? The logo. The Great Taste symbol is their guarantee a product has been through a rigorous and independent judging process. It’s not about smart packaging or clever marketing – it’s all about taste.

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