Punchy flavours have judges seeing stars, as Northern Ireland’s producers get top marks at Great Taste
Following 14 weeks of judging, the results of the world’s most trusted food and drink awards, Great Taste, have been released, with many producers in Northern Ireland now celebrating. Out of a record breaking 12,777 entries from 106 different countries, 42% were awarded a highly prized Great Taste accolade and a remarkable 172 are based in Northern Ireland.
Among the Great Taste 3-star winners from Northern Ireland are a number of products that deliver big, bold flavours, including; Black Garlic & Porcini Sea Salt from Craic Foods in Craigavon, County Armagh, described as “an umami flavour bomb” by the judges, who loved its “bold mushroom flavour, sweetness from the black garlic and a slight acidic lift toward the end”; the “smooth and silky” Abernethy Lemon Curd from The Little Bakehouse in Dromore, County Down, delivering “plenty of lovely rich butteryness and a massive burst of fresh, bright, fruity lemon”; and the Japanese-inspired Koji Pork Ribs from Hannan Meats in Moira, County Armagh, which bowled the judges over with its “intense umami from the koji, which really enhances the flavour of the pork”, leading one judge to say “this is the most delicious piece of pork I can remember trying.”
While these producers enjoy their success and begin displaying the unmistakable gold and black Great Taste logo, with 1-, 2- or 3- 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 final honours, including the Great Taste 2020 Supreme Champion, will be announced at the virtual Great Taste Golden Fork awards event, set to take place in October.
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 cake, coffee, kippers or kombucha being judged, all products are removed from their packaging 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.
This year’s winners have been found through a combination of remote judging and socially distanced judging sessions, after the lockdown began just one week into the schedule. This necessitated a swift and comprehensive reinvention of the Great Taste process to ensure that robust judging standards were maintained and the quality of feedback was not compromised, all in time to provide a much-needed boost for food and drink producers during the all-important Christmas period.
The panel of judges included; cook, writer and champion of sustainable food, Melissa Hemsley, cook, writer, stylist and voice of modern vegetarian cooking, Anna Jones, celebrated Spanish chef, José Pizarro, Kavi Thakrar from Dishoom, food writer and cook, Xanthe Clay, and baker and author, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Waitrose. 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 2020 Supreme Champion.
Details of this year’s winners can be found at www.greattasteawards.co.uk and a wide range of award winning products are available to buy in delis, farm shops and independent retail outlets across the country.
Facts and figures about Great Taste 2020:
- Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers
- A record breaking 12,777 different products were entered in 2020
- Entries were sent in from 106 different countries, including Estonia, Greece, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Madagascar, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the USA and Vietnam
- 144 judges took part this year. Less than usual, due to the pandemic and to ensure social distancing in both locations. However, the same number of judging layers were applied, to maintain the rigorous and robust process. Judges included 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
- Judging took place over a total of 14 weeks. Having begun as planned in March 2020, the process was then halted due to COVID-19. Judging resumed in early May, when remote judging was able to take place in judges’ homes, before Great Taste returned to the judging rooms in both Dorset and London during July
- 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
- The homes of regular judges, as Great Taste continued during lockdown
- 3,818 awarded 1-star
- 1,294 awarded 2-star
- 205 awarded 3-star
As the judges searched for the stars of 2020, waste was kept to a minimum, with unused products being donated to local food banks and hampers made up of excess products for local businesses to raffle in aid of charities. No plastic plates or cutlery were used during the judging rounds, reducing plastic waste by almost 100%. 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.
A full list of winners is available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images are available to view in the press room on the Guild of Fine Food website and high resolution images are available from email@example.com.
For further information, please contact any of the following:
Sam Brice at Freshly Ground PR
+44 (0) 7961 635960
Tortie Farrand at the Guild of Fine Food
+44 (0) 1747 825200