Top honours in the world’s biggest fine food awards have returned to Ireland, with an ultra-traditional beef dripping from James Whelan Butchers in Co Tipperary being named Great Taste Supreme Champion 2015.
The Harrods-sponsored trophy was presented last Monday night at the annual ‘Golden Forks’ dinner at London’s Royal Garden Hotel.
The win for James Whelan Butchers gave the Republic of Ireland its first Supreme Champion since Woodcock Smokery’s wild smoked salmon in 2006. But it follows victories for Northern Ireland in 2011 (McCartney’s of Moira’s corned beef) and 2012 (Hannan Meats’ guanciale), cementing the island of Ireland’s reputation for simple products based on exceptional primary ingredients.
Great Taste organiser John Farrand, MD of the Guild of Fine Food, said: “Great Taste recognises flavour above all else and James Whelan’s dripping is a perfect example of this, astonishing our panel of judges with its pure beefiness and savoury depth.
“It’s a quite humble product made exceptionally well by a master of butchery.”
The James Whelan Butchers product won the overall award from over 10,000 entries. Its creation owed “more than a little guidance” from his mother, said Whelan.
Whelan’s product, made with suet from grass-fed Angus and Hereford beef clarified into a clear, richly flavoured dripping, evoked a wave of nostalgia among the Great Taste final panel.
MasterChef judge and restaurant critic Charles Campion said: “I’ve never seen such an outrageous reaction to a simple product.”
The dripping also won the Golden Fork from Ireland award.
James Golding, chef director of The Pig hotel group, was “taken back to my childhood”, while another judge dubbed the dripping “a distilled moment of the perfect beef roast”.
It was one of five Irish entries placed in the top 50 penultimate judging stage of the Great Taste Awards, which are widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation schemes for artisan and speciality fine food and drink.
Another top 50 product, Wild Sika Venison French Rack from the Baronscourt Estate in Co Tyrone won the Golden Fork from Northern Ireland award.
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