23rd July 2020 - Page 53



BUSINESS
FW
INTERVIEW
The Annual Great Taste
Awards last week were
another triumph for
Northern Ireland’s
vibrant food and
drink and especially
artisan producers.
SAM BUTLER talked
to many of the most
successful local
companies as they look
forward to the choice
of Supreme Champion
2019 early next month.
ABOVE: Peter Hannan of Hannan’s
Meats in Moira won 14 gold stars
in Great Taste
to strengthen
the company’s
position as the
ABOVE: Alastair Bell of Irish Black most ‘decorated’
Butter in Portrush gained three
in the competition.
gold stars for his unique Bramley
apple conserve.
FARMWEEK
AUGUST 08 2019
53
ABOVE: Paul
Clarke of En
Place Foods in
Cookstown gained
stars for every ABOVE: Andrew Rooney
product he
of Millbay Oysters in
entered.
Carlingford Lough.
ABOVE: Michael Hall, managing
director of Kestrel Foods, a UK
leader in Forest Feast branded
healthy snacks, gained three
stars.
LEFT MIDDLE: Jonathan
Buchanan of Buchanan’s Turkeys
in Kilrea won two stars for his
stuffed pork fillet.
LEFT: Daniela Morelli of Morelli’s
in Coleraine is a shining star of
the UK ice cream industry.
ABOVE: Oscar Woolley, centre,
managing director of Suki Tea.
Stars shining brightly for our artisans
in ‘Oscars’ of European food and drink
Northern Ireland
has had another
great year of
achievement
in Great Taste
which enhances
our reputation as
the World’s Best
Food Destination
and a hub for
innovative food
and drink.”
ABOVE: Neill’s struck gold
with its soda bread flour.
A
LMOST 180 food
and drink products
from around 80
local companies
were listed for
gold stars in this year’s UK
Guild of Fine Food Great
Taste Awards. Eight local
companies gained the
prestigious three gold stars
which means they are in
the running for the overall
product of the year award.
Rated ‘exquisite’ by a
team of food experts in
Britain were local products
covering virtually every
sector – meat, bread and
cakes, seafood, our, tea,
coffee, beer, healthy snacks
and condiments.
Northern Ireland’s
galaxy of original products
included Hannan Meats of
Moira, a company which
has won more Great Taste
Awards than any other in
the UK, Millbay Oysters
of Kilkeel, and Suki Tea,
one of the UK’s leading tea
blenders.
The list also featured
several newcomers such
as Irish Black Butter of
Portrush, a sweet/savoury
spread from Armagh
Bramley apples, Craic Foods
of Cookstown, a specialist
in culinary ingredients for
chefs, and Neill’s Flour in
Belfast for its soda bread
mix. En Place Foods, also
based in Cookstown, a
producer of balsamic
vinegars, collected a cluster
of stars.
Interestingly, En Place
and Craic Foods are led
by former chef Paul Clarke
with business partner Peter
Hannan of Hannan Meats. En
Place, in addition, worked
WHAT THE GOLD STARS
MEAN
n 3 Stars – Extraordinarily
tasty food. Don’t leave
shop without buying.
n 2 Stars – Above and
beyond delicious.
n 1 Star – Simply delicious
– a food that delivers
fantastic avours.
with Alastair Bell of Irish
Black Butter in developing
the recipe of this spread.
Paul Clarke says: “It’s
always good to pick up the
odd star but when every
product you entered gets
an award it’s a serious
endorsement.”
Peter Hannan adds:
“Northern Ireland has
had another great year
of achievement in Great
Taste which enhances our
reputation as the World’s
Best Food Destination and
a hub for innovative food
and drink. Great Taste
is a tremendous way to
strengthen our prole in
Britain, the Republic and
further aeld.” Hannan
Meats gained three stars for
a sugar pit in-bone bacon
loin.
The Moira company again
topped local ‘stars’ with
an impressive haul of 10
products listed.
Alastair Bell, founder and
managing director of Irish
Black Butter, says: “The
award is hugely important
to a small artisan business
like mine with limited
marketing resources
because of the recognition
it provides particularly in
Britain, now developing into
an immensely signicant
market for us. It will
strengthen awareness of
our original product there
and support our marketing
activities.”
Other major winners
included Morelli’s Ice Cream
in Coleraine with 10 stars
for ice cream and frozen
yoghurt.
Managing director Arnaldo
Morelli was understandably
delighted with the latest
accolade. “I reckon we are
now the most ‘decorated’
ice cream producer in the
UK and Ireland. It’s another
marvellous endorsement of
our products and follows
our success in being named
the UK’s best by industry
body Ice Cream Alliance,”
he says.
Jonathan Buchanan of
Buchanan’s Turkeys in
Kilrea added two gold stars
for his stuffed pork llet to
a previous success with his
free range turkeys. “I am
really thrilled to have won
two stars,” he says. “It’s
a huge boost to my small
farm-based business as we
endeavour to grow sales
with limited resources. It
couldn’t afford to pay for
the sort of publicity it will
generate,” he adds.
Other three-star winners
were Whitewater Brewery
in Castlewellan, SD Bell’s
in Belfast for gourmet
coffee and Kestrel Foods in
Craigavon, a UK leader in
healthy snacks. Neill’s Flour
in Belfast also gained three
stars for its traditional soda
bread our.
One of the smallest
companies to be included in
the list is Dromore’s Little
Bakehouse for its courgette,
lime and pistachio cake. The
ABOVE: Bernard Sloan of Whitewater Brewery in
Castlewellan gained three stars for his stout.
home bakery is owned by
experienced baker Suzanne
Taggart.
Congratulating the winners,
Food NI chief executive
Michele Shirlow says: “Great
Taste is the UK’s largest and
most trusted awards scheme
for speciality food and
drink. Only the best tasting
products bear the black and
gold logo. It’s tremendous
to see such a broad range of
local products doing so very
well in this hugely important
competition. Since its
inception in 1993, Great Taste
has been the benchmark for
speciality food and drink
sold in the UK.”
The judging pool is made
up of more than 400 experts
(including chefs, food buyers,
critics and retailers), who
attend sessions held over the
course of several months.
“Winning is important
to the producers as it
differentiates their products
from the norm and means
you, as the customer, have a
guarantee that the products
you buy have a reliable seal
of approval based upon great
taste and not marketing,”
adds John Farrand, the
guild’s chief executive.
Many of the winning
products will also be
displayed in a Great Taste
presentation at the big
Speciality and Fine Food
Show at Olympia in London.
The event is the biggest
artisan food and drink
showcase in London this
year and attracts top notch
food agencies such as
Scotland Food, Ireland’s
Bord Bia, Wales Food, many
English regions as well as
international food promotion
bodies. Northern Ireland will
not be represented this year.
Suki Tea is the only Northern
Ireland company there.

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