The delicious. magazine Produce Awards are in their third year and going from strength to strength. I was honoured to be asked to judge entrants from the Eastern region for the third time.
I was really honoured to be invited to be a regional judge for the inaugural Delicious Magazine Producer Awards. There are numerous food and drink awards these days including the ubiquitous Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Awards which receives tens of thousands of entries every year seeking the recognisable gold stars to adorn their products.
But there were no national awards which truly celebrated the best best artisan food producers, small scale farmers or makers, recognising their dedication and skill as well the provenance and taste of their products. Back in January 2016 the magazine asked readers to nominate their favourite dairy farms, fishermen, butchers, bakers and farms - 650 nominations were received.
I was asked to judge entries for the East of England alongside far better qualified judges, food writer Thane Prince and chef Galton Blackiston. We spent an entertaining couple of hours reviewing all the entries to the area from tiny producers of chutneys and cakes available in a few local markets to some of East of England's most well known products from oysters to rhubarb. The process was rigorous scoring each entry on a number of criteria and Thane kept us all focussed and impartial!
Our shortlist duly submitted to the final panel that included Prue Leigh, Peter Gordan and Sophie Grigson as well as Delicious editor, Karen Barnes and we all had to wait patiently until October when the winners were announced in the October magazine.
I'm delighted to say that one of our favourite entries from the region went on to win the From the Earth Category - Hodmedod's Organic Quinoa was praised by the judges who said "We love the fact that it's grown in the UK. Plus the flavour is excellent: buttery and nutty, with a texture that pops in the mouth."
You can see the full list of winners on the Delicious Producer Awards Winners.