This week I had the pleasure of judging the Great Taste Awards along with a veritable crew of passionate foodies from producers to bloggers, writers, buyers, retailers and food critics. Some, like me, were there for the day, others were in for the duration and all delighted to be part of the process.
The Great Taste Awards are organised by the Guild of Fine Food and "are the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink". It has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the ‘epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize’. Quite simply, the Great Taste logo is the sign you can trust when buying food and drink in your local, quality retailer.
I have been entering since 2013 and was invited to judge in Cardiff in 2015, but annoyingly my cancer treatment ruined my tastebuds, so being back to full health and part of the process was even more special this year.
I travelled up with my great friend Bill King, Artisan Baker and on the Tuesday night we were delighted to join the Great Taste team for a tour of our dear friends Halen Mon and their brand new purpose built Salt Cote.They produce the finest sea salt from the tidal water in the Menai Straits in Anglesey and are blessed with incredible views over to Snowdonia.
After a tour and tasting session we were indulged by the delightful Ellis Barrie and Liam of The Marram Grass. Their food was exciting, packed with drama and flavour, producing 4 courses in the tiny Halen Mon staff kitchen. It was a lovely evening, with highlights meeting the brilliantly joyful Sian Lloyd and formidable Charles Campion (actually very lovely).
Wednesday was judging day, greeted by our 2017 Judges badges.
We were allocated judging tables and the business began. I was with the brilliant Nick Crosley who has an incredible palate and the lovely Gay, a journalist and foodie from Dorset. Both took me under their wing and we had the pleasure of trying some incredible products, real shout out loud brilliance!!
In the afternoon I judged with the lovely Fanny, also a food journalist from Dorset and Stephen Stevens from Sosban & The Old Butchery, the smallest Michelin Star Restaurant in the UK and the man with THE best beard!! He is incredible and Fanny & I both agreed that we learned so much from tasting with him. His palate is exquisite, his knowledge of food is immense and no matter how much charm I laid on, his restaurant is fully booked until March 2018.
The whole day was a joy, a pleasure to taste great food, passionately produced all over this fabulous country of ours - to food producers everywhere, I salute you!!!!