Fresh from the pastures of Northern Ireland, dairy delights the Great Taste judges
Following months of judging, the results of the world’s most coveted blind-tasted food awards, Great Taste, have just been released, with many producers in Northern Ireland now able to celebrate. Out of the 10,000 products to be judged, 3,539 were awarded a highly prized Great Taste accolade and a remarkable 212 are based in Northern Ireland, including 3-star award-winning; Clandeboye Estate’s “gloriously thick” Greek Style Yoghurt, which bowled the judges over with its “clean citric, grassy and lactic flavour”, Kearney Cheese Company’s Kearney Blue Cheese, a “rich and creamy” blue cows’ milk cheese “packed with big farmyard flavours”, and Abernethy Butter’s Smoked Abernethy Butter, which was given a big thumbs up from the panel, who enjoyed the “good balance of smoke, underpinned by salt” and described it as a “fine and well-made artisan product”.
While these producers revel in their success and begin displaying the unmistakable gold and black Great Taste logo with stars on their award-winning products, they will wait with much anticipation to see if they also scoop the top awards for their region. These awards will be announced at the Great Taste Golden Fork Awards Dinner at The Royal Garden Hotel in London on Monday 5 September.
Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. Whether it is jam, gin, beef or butter being judged, all products are removed from their wrapper, jar or bottle before being tasted. The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award.
Judged by over 500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, restaurateurs, cooks, producers and a host of food writers and journalists, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers. In the words of highly regarded restaurant and food critic Charles Campion, “Great Taste is the only food award worth having”.
The panel of judges, including; TV chef and author, Valentine Warner, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic, Charles Campion, fifth generation baker, Tom Herbert from Hobbs House Bakery, food buyers from Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Waitrose, James Golding, chef director of THE PIG Hotels, and Kevin Gratton, chef director of HIX Restaurants, have together re-judged the 3-star winners to agree on the Top 50 Foods, the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste Supreme Champion for 2016.
Regular Great Taste judge and MasterChef the Professionals finalist, Adam Handling, hosted the judges at his brand new restaurant, The Frog in Shoreditch, after the final round of judging, to enjoy a menu made up of some of the Great Taste 3-star award-winning products of 2016.
As these judges searched for the stars of 2016, waste was kept to a minimum, with unused products being donated to local food banks and hampers made up for local businesses to raffle in aid of local charities. The Guild of Fine Food also donates surplus computer equipment, used to record the judges’ comments, to community-based projects across the UK, which are then refurbished and used to facilitate after school clubs and many other initiatives designed to support underprivileged families.
Details of this year’s winners can be found at www.greattasteawards.co.uk and a select range of products will also be made available via Taste Distribution (www.tastedistribution.co.uk), which has been established exclusively to distribute Great Taste award-winning products to independent retailers.