South west triumphs at Great Taste Awards

THERE was plenty to cheer for south west food producers at the Golden Fork dinner in London when the top prize-winners in this year’s Great Taste Awards were announced – the hall of fame is headed by Bristol-based gelato makers Swoon, West Dorset charcuterie specialists Capreolus, craft cider makers Worley’s of Shepton Mallet, and specialist small jam and preserve maker The Artisan Kitchen from Gloucester.

This year there were a record-breaking 12,772 entries for the world’s leading food and drink awards, which are run by the Guild of Fine Food in Dorset. The rigorous judging process reaches its climax at the Great Taste Golden Fork Dinner, held at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel London, with more than 350 guests from the world of fine food.

The top honour of Great Taste Supreme champion went to Swoon’s “silky smooth and super creamy” Nocciola Gelato, which was also awarded the South West Golden Fork. The hazelnuts come from a small property in Piemonte, where the trees have been tended by the same family for four generations. The Great Taste judges were bowled over by its “sensational pure hazelnut flavour” and simply wanted more of this “very impressive gelato”.

Set up in 2016 by the fourth generation of the Forte family, who brought traditional Italian gelato to the UK more than a century ago, Swoon has consistently impressed the Great Taste judges  – in 2017, four of its products received a three-star award, and the Great Taste Golden Fork for Producer of the Year.

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, says: “Simplicity has won the day at Great Taste again this year, rising to the top in a field packed with new concepts, innovative flavour combinations and products from every corner of the world. All of the above have taken stars, but I think our 2019 Supreme Champion says a lot about the enduring appeal of straight up products made using the finest quality ingredients. Simple can be very sexy and Swoon’s Nocciola Gelato stood out at every stage of the judging process, wowing all in its path with a pure, unadulterated hazelnut hit, carried on a silky spoonful of perfectly executed gelato.”

This year’s Great Taste entries came from 104 different countries, including Australia, Brazil, Botswana, China, Indonesia, Russia and the USA, and 27 EU member states. There were more than 500 judges, including food critics, chefs, restaurateurs, retail buyers, cooks, producers, food writers, journalists and social media influencers. The judging took place at Guild HQ in Gillingham, other Dorset venues and the Guild’s London home in Southwark. There were 3,409 single stars, 1,326 two-stars and 208 three-stars.