Ed Smith reflects on this year’s Great Taste Awards—another year of resounding success for the Market’s traders
The judges have deliberated, cogitated and digested, their votes have been counted, and the results are now in for this year’s Great Taste Awards.
Once again Borough traders and products did well, with numerous stars having been bestowed across multiple Market products.
Most impressively, a healthy handful of traders have received the coveted three-star rating for items that they produce or sell—making each of those products one of just 165 products to have been awarded the top recognition, out of 12,366 products to have been entered. There’s particular cause for celebration at La Tua Pasta, whose burrata and black truffle tortelloni was named as the best product in London and the south-east, thanks to “masterful use of truffle and spot-on pasta-to-filling ratio”.
Benchmark of quality
The Great Taste Awards were established by the Guild of Fine Foods in 1994, with the stated purpose being that they would create a benchmark of quality for fine food and drink. Every product entered is tasted by a minimum of eight judges (cooks, food writers, critics). The ultimate criterion is “does it taste great”, though stars are granted to the best on the following basis:
One star: “Simply delicious—a food that delivers fantastic flavour”
Two stars: “Outstanding—above and beyond delicious (fewer than 15 per cent receive this grade)”
Three stars: “Exquisite—extraordinarily tasty foods. Less than three per cent of products are awarded three stars each year. Don’t leave the shop without buying it!”
You may already recognise the stickers—the Oscar statues of the food world, or the “epicurean equivalent of the Booker Prize”, as someone once wrote. They’re certainly a marker to look out for as an easy indication that you’ll be on to a winner.
Faultless and perfectly made
This year’s three star-grade Market products include Pieminister’s Moodog pie (which can be found among the hot food stands in the Green Market). Made with British beef steak, free range British smoked bacon and craft ale, the judges described it as “faultless and perfectly made... a truly lovely product”.
Jon Simon, the company’s MD noted “Tristan [his co-founder] and I will never forget winning our first Great Taste Awards in 2005. It was a special day for us and a huge boost to our confidence as young pie-makers. We’ve won many more since then and each one is a big deal, as the awards are a mark of quality that our customers trust in. To win our first three gold-star award this year is cause for celebration here in our Bristol kitchens as it’s testament that our pies just keep getting better and better!”
You’ll see multiple stickers, too, at Brindisa, Oliveology, Alsop and Walker, The Olive Oil Co, Rhug Farm and The Flour Station, all of whom are able to celebrate having been awarded a constellation of stars across their products.
Over at La Tua Pasta, not only did their tortelloni win the Golden Fork and a place on the top 50 ingredients list, three of their other fresh filled pastas received two stars, and a further four gained one star. La Tua’s Jessica Scudetti noted how pleased they were not just with the recognition received for the black truffle pasta, but for all 13 of the stars they received across different products. She also told me how the awards “motivate us to keep working on introducing new and innovative combinations of our pasta.” Good news for us consumers, then.
Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese is another three-star, top 50 product available at the Market (from Neal’s Yard Dairy) and Cannon & Cannon founder Sean Cannon was pleased that more and more British charcutiers receive commendations each year, including the three stars awarded to Great Glen Charcuterie’s venison and green peppercorn salami, which Cannon & Cannon sell as part of their ‘selected by’ range. “It’s wonderful to see our producers gaining recognition for their amazing meats—though of course we knew already that this particular salami was exquisite.”
Finally, Market visitors will see that Karaway Bakery is particularly well embellished this year, with six one-star products, two stars for their superb ginger thins (try them with Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire—superb), and maximum stars awarded to their Lithuanian scalded rye, a bread whose sourdough matures for several days before it is baked, with dried calamus leaves in the base, giving it a distinctive fragrance and unique flavour. Intrigued? Head to their stall—it is a certified three-star winner, after all.