THE results for this year’s Taste of the West Product Awards have just been announced.
Out of nearly a thousand products entered into the 2014 awards, 199 won a Gold Award, 252 were awarded a Silver Award and 203 were given a Bronze Award.
Naming just a few, in the ‘Beer’ category Arkell’s Brewery and Hanlons were amongst those winning Gold.
In the ‘Savoury Preserves’ category, there were Golds for Brendon Hill Crafts, Hillside Foods, In a Pickle Food Co, Langford’s Preserves, Shute Fruit & Produce, Waterhouse Fayre and The Wiltshire Chilli Farm. ‘Ready Meals, Soups & Light Eats’ is a fast growing section of the awards and this year Gold awards went to Blackacre Farm Eggs, Cornish Charcuterie, Jon Thorner’s Ltd, Natural Vitality, St Ewe Free Range Eggs and The Watercress Company.
Pork Heaven from Devon, based near Tiverton, won awards for each of the ten products they entered; two Golds and a Silver for their pork products in the ‘Meat’ class, Silver and Gold also for each of their five different flavours of sausage entered plus Gold for their burgers and a Bronze for their bacon.
Capreolus Fine Foods of Dorset, recent finalists in the BBC Food & Farming Awards, also entered ten products and won awards for each one.
Taste of the West is renowned for recognising excellence and dedication throughout the food and drink industry.
Commenting on behalf of this highly respected organisation, chief executive John Sheaves says: “What a year this is...we continue to be astounded by the quality of the produce coming out of the West Country.
With results like these, we can now proudly take products from this region to key national and international markets.”
John continues: “These awards reflect the hard work, tenacity and determination of the West Country’s small producers and provide the recognition they deserve.”
These awards were judged in April at Exeter College by a panel of independent industry experts including chefs, food writers, food buyers and other food professionals, over a period of five days.
All entries needing cooking were prepared by a team of chefs headed up by Matt Durrant, Tutor & Chef Lecturer at Exeter College.
The Product Awards were made up of 25 classes. Judges evaluated each product individually, assessing its appearance, aroma, texture, packaging and, most significantly, its taste.
Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards were awarded entirely on merit and judges were not limited on the number of awards that could be given. Products which won Gold Awards will be judged for a second time by a further panel of judges to identify the winners of 22 ‘Best Of’ category awards.
These top 22 products will then be judged again to find this year’s ‘Champion Product’. A new award ‘Most Innovative New Product’ has been chosen by the judging panel out of all the entries received.
These top awards will be announced at a prestigious ceremony taking place in the early Autumn.
In addition, results for the Hospitality and Retail Awards are not only being judged at the moment but entries are still being taken to find the best places to eat, drink, sleep and shop in the South West.
The categories for these include ‘Cafés and Tea Room’, ‘Dining Pub’, ‘Restaurant’, ‘Bed & Breakfast’ and ‘Local Food to Go’ and, for the first time this year, a new category of ‘Casual Dining’.
A panel of anonymous, independent expert judges are out and about visiting all the registered establishments and awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards on merit, based on a scoring system.
The judges’ criteria include looking at the extent of local sourcing, communication of local sourcing in the establishment, quality and speed of service, quality of meal, atmosphere and ambience of the place and value for money.
Amongst the Hospitality winners announced so far are Gold awards for The Horn of Plenty near Tavistock for both B&B and Restaurant, Rodean Restaurant near Exeter, The White Hart, Somerton and Hotel Alexandra in Lyme Regis.
In the ‘Café and Tea Room’ category Blue Tomato Café in Cornwall has won Gold while in the ‘Dining Pub’ category The Fox Inn and The Acorn Inn, both near Dorchester have both won Gold.
Sweet Cumin has added to their four Product Awards with Gold in the ‘Local Food to Go’ section while both branches of Bocabar, in Bristol and Glastonbury gained Golds in the new ‘Casual Dining’ category.
The breakdown for the Retail categories includes ‘Speciality Retailer/Delicatessen’, ‘Farm Shop’, ‘Butcher’s Shop’, ‘Village Shop’, ‘On-line Retailer’ and ‘Farmers’ Market’.
With 21 entries so far in the ‘Farmers’ Market’ category five have already won Gold; Taunton, Sennen, Crocadon, Totnes Good Food Sunday and Levels Best at Montacute House.
Other Gold awards have gone to Walter Rose & Son, Devizes, in the ‘Butcher’s Shop’ category, Town Mill Cheesemongers of Lyme Regis and Williams Supermarkets in Somerton have both won Gold in the ‘Specialist Retailer/Delicatessen’ section.
Apple Tree Farm Shop near Yeovil has won Gold in both the ‘Restaurant’ and ‘Farm Shop’ categories while Washingpool Farm Shop has won Gold; their eighth award from Taste of the West in as many years.
The closing date to apply for being judged in the 2014 Taste of the West Hospitality & Retail Awards is Friday 1st August.
In addition there is also an award for ‘Local Food in Schools and Colleges’ which gives the highest accolade to those teaching establishments which are committed to sourcing and educating pupils about healthy, locally-sourced food.
Entry forms can now be downloaded from the Taste of the West website (www.tasteofthewest.co.uk). Completed entry forms should be sent to Taste of the West, Country House Estate, London Road, Whimple, Devon EX5 2NL by Monday 21st July 2014. Entry costs £30 + VAT.
Finally, Taste of the West also runs ‘The Carol Trewin South West Producer of the Year’ award. This recognises an entrepreneurial producer of food and drink with an innovative approach to developing his or her business and markets.