Irish food producers have again performed strongly in the Great Taste awards, a UK and Ireland industry event run by the Guild of Fine Food that attracted more than 10,000 entries.
Desserts, biscuits, preserves, ham and beef scored strongly for the Republic, while dairy, tea and beef were Northern Ireland’s star performers.
There were 3,539 awards announced on Thursday, after a series of regional blind-tasting sessions. Some 642 of those are for Irish-made products – 430 in the Republic and 212 in Northern Ireland.
In the top three-star gold category, 14 producers in the Republic and 13 in Northern Ireland took honours. Awards were also made to products in two-star and one-star categories.
The regional winners go forward to find the supreme champion food product made in Ireland and the UK, an honour claimed last year by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers for his beef dripping. Whelan has two contenders again this year, with both his Heritage Cure Rack of Bacon and Heritage Cure Ham, which beach won three-star gold.
Another previous winner of the supreme championship, Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats in Moira, Co Down, earned four three-star golds – for Glenarm Shorthorn Rib Roast, Glenarm Wing Rib Sirloin, Sugar Pit Beef Brisket and Pastrami Beef Brisket.
Northern Ireland proved particularly strong in the tea category with both Suki Teahouse and Thompson Family Teas winning double gold in the three-star category.
The product are assessed by a panel of more than 500 judges – food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, food writers and journalists – at venues across the UK, as well as this year in Clonmel, Co Tipperary and Belfast, Co Antrim. Judges this year included food writer and critic Charles Campion, TV chef and author, Valentine Warner, fifth generation baker, Tom Herbert from Hobbs House Bakery, food buyers from Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Waitrose, James Golding, chef director of The Pig hotels, and Irish chef Clodagh Mckenna.
The top 50 products in the competition will be revealed on August 6th, and the regional and supreme champions will be announced on September 5th.
The full list of winners in the 2016 competition will be published later today at greattasteawards.co.uk
Three-star gold winners
- Republic of Ireland
- Lismore Food Company caraway biscuits with Irish seaweed
- Wexford Home Preserves blackcurrant preserve
- Crossogue Preserves damson port jelly
- James Whelan Butchers Heritage Cure rack of bacon
- James Whelan Butchers Heritage Cure ham
- Supervalu Signature Tastes Hereford rib eye
- Aldi Clonbawn sour cream
- Yeats Country Foods light creme fraiche
- Durrus cheese
- Tipperary Kitchen butterscotch sauce
- Dunnes Stores Simply Better sticky toffee pudding
- Oh Naturelle raspberry sorbet with a hint of rose
- Foods of Athenry gourmet soda bread toasts
- Nobó salted caramel dairy-free frozen dessert
- Northern Ireland
- Suki Teahouse Oolong Orange Blossom tea
- Suki Teahouses Ayurvedic tea
- Thompson Family Teas Punjabi Original teabags
- Thompson Family Teas Irish Breakfast teabags
- Hannan Meats Glenarm rib roast
- Hannan Meats Glenarm wing rib sirloin
- Hannan Meats sugar pit brisket
- Hannan Meats pastrami brisket
- Rooney Fish pacific oysters
- Clandeboye Estate Green style yoghurt
- Dale Farm reduced fat creme fraiche
- Abernethy Butter smoked butter
- Kearney Cheeses Kearney blue