We are all watching gold medals galore at the Olympics this week, so I thought it was time to recognise other award winners this Summer.

Did you know there is an Oscar’s for cheese? And that it takes place in the little known town of Nantwich, Cheshire.

Well, the only reason I did was because my old employers Marks and Spencer always did so well at these awards and I was told that these International Cheese Awards really are the best it gets for all things cheesey. This year it was a German blue cheese that was named Supreme Champion. So a big round of applause for Montagnolo Affine who rose over the other 3927 entries to be crowned the big cheese. Judged for flavour and appearance by some 156 expert judges you know that the winner must be something special. Wookey Hole Cave Aged Cheddar was runner up, Belton Cheese Ltd claimed the highest number of gold awards  and my old cronies at M&S didn’t let me down as they won Supreme Retailer.

So now you know. Look out for the labels on pack and know that you are going to have a truly wonderful cheese-fest.

The hallowed judging rooms at Wincanton

Also announced this week were the final results of the Great Taste Awards. Sadly I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to do loads of judging but you know I did a bit way back in April and now all 8807 entries have been scrutinised by the experts for taste, appearance and texture with 2793 deemed good enough for an award.

The outstanding entries gain 3 stars and this year some 123 products earned that honour, with the prospect of going forward for the Supreme Champion next month. Last year this award went to a Northern Irish corned beef and the year before Kentish cob nut oil so what will it be in 2012?

When I scrolled through the list of top entries, it reflected the current themes in specialist foods with great sourcing, specifically bred raw materials, traditional cooking or preservation methods and classic flavours with a twist. So the trends haven’t really changed too much although there were some more unusual dishes such as bone marrow butter and duck gizzard confit.

Overall there were a lot of craft beers; specialist teas; hand picked, specially roasted and blended unique coffees; seeded and slowly fermented breads; regional sweets like North African Berber cake and Persian nougat; the obligatory passion fruit curd; interesting cured meats; a plethora of well sourced and interesting meats including springbok and roe deer; lots of different smoked fish and a whole range of traditional British dishes.

Look for yourself at all the winners. I will let you know the overall champion as soon as it is announced.

The good news for all those who take the time to enter, as well as judge, is that a simple label on pack really does seem to make a commercial difference and that can only be good news for the food industry. It goes to show that if you do produce something wonderful you will be rewarded. So look out for the medal on pack and try for yourself.

Advertisements