A husband and wife who met at the world-famous Noma restaurant in Copenhagen have won the Blas na hÉireann overall award for 2022.
Bart Pawlukojc from Poland and Nicole Server-Pawlukojc, who is Filipino, moved to Ireland and opened the Arán Bakery & Bistro in Kilkenny city in 2019.
Their Arán spelt sourdough, a loaf that uses 80 per cent local spelt flour from Kells Wholemeal, was named the supreme champion at this year’s awards. Now in their 15th year, the prizes were presented in Dingle, Co Kerry, on Friday, at the first in-person awards ceremony since 2019.
The bread, chosen from almost 3,000 products into the competition, is finished with sesame seeds to accentuate the grain’s flavours. Arán Bakery & Bistro were previous finalists and gold medal winners at the Blas na hÉireann awards for their breads and pastries.
“We have had great success previously in the Blas na hÉireann awards but winning supreme champion is wonderful news for us all,” said Mr Pawlukojc. “We’re a small, hard-working team that really believes in what we’re doing in Arán, our creative outlet, where we make top-quality food accessible to everyone.”
Ms Server-Pawlukojc said: “That loaf of bread epitomises our entire approach at Arán — start with the very best and then add a little love and skill. We couldn’t be more delighted for the whole team — it’s a real boost for everyone.”
Ten Watch Chocolates, based in Randalstown, Co Antrim, won best artisan product for their PB&J Bar, a chocolate bar using using single origin Madagascar chocolate and their own in-house peanut butter and raspberry jam. The award was picked up by creator Lawri Dowie, who is a chef and sourdough bread baker by trade. That enterprise was also set up in 2019.
Blas na hÉireann founder and chairperson Artie Clifford said the winners this year had “been of exceptional talent” and the return of the in-person event was something to celebrate.