Food sector up for top awards

Ireland’s ever-growing and improving food sector and some of the country’s best sightseeing spots were showcased to an international audience of experts over the last week as the Great Taste Awards came to Tipperary.

Hotel Minella in Clonmel was the venue for the Irish section of this year’s judging of the prestigious awards which are adjudicated by some of the most demanding foodies on these islands, on behalf of the Guild of Fine Food.

Last year’s Supreme Award was presented in London to Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers, for his home-produced beef dripping which beat 10,000 entrants from Ireland and the UK and is now being stocked in Harrods and other well-known suppliers. The Clonmel-based butcher invited the Great Taste organisers to have one of its regional tasting sessions on his home patch.

The event was hosted by the Tipperary Food Producers network and proved a spectacular way of promoting local produce.

Critics from the likes of The Guardian and The Evening Standard were joined by buyers from Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges, and others for the week-long tasting in Hotel Minella, when hundreds of fine foods were judged by about 70 experts.

A select few are then awarded one, two or three stars, depending on their quality, with the results set to be announced in July before the top products from Ireland and the UK go on to the overall finals.

The foods tasted by the judges in Clonmel covered the whole range, from porridge to vinegar, cakes to beef, sausages to burgers, cheeses to bread, and much more, as Guild of Fine Food managing director John Farrand said.

“This week it’s all about Irish food,” he said. “We do two or three of these roadshows a year. It’s just easier for the food producers to get their produce to be judged.”


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