Getting in on the judging action at Bristol’s Royal Marriott Hotel…
The second year of the Bristol Good Food Awards has seen double the number of votes cast by the public – around 24,000 in fact. It’s encouraging news for the organisers, and also for the local businesses and producers taking part and building their profiles.
Judged at the Love Food Festival last year, the awards are this year being held at a slightly less hectic location – within the Bristol Royal Marriott on College Green. We took an afternoon trip down to see how the panel were getting on with the gruelling task of blind-tasting Bristol’s best produce. The aim of course, to crown Bristol’s best producers – nominated by the public – for the 2013 Local Producers part of the awards. The judges had been pushing their palates since 10am and were on their eleventh category – cake. ‘My heart bleeds’, I hear you cry! Amongst the contenders were a banoffee cupcake; an Eton Mess cupcake; a chocolate coconut cupcake; a slice of cherry marzipan cake; a vegan butternut squash muffin; a lemon meringue muffin; a pistachio and hazelnut slice and a blackberry and coconut crumble – all to be rated on appearance, taste, texture and packaging.
During the afternoon, around 39 of the region’s cafes, delis and local food producers battled it out on the judge’s table, around which sat Sam Moody of Bath Priory; TV wine expert Susy Atkins; TV chef and baker Richard Bertinet; Michelin-starred chef Martin Blunos; Daily Telegraph food writer Xanthe Clay; head of Lucknam Park Cookery School Hrishikesh Desai; founder of Love Food Festival Lorna Knapman, and editor of Flavour Magazine and bristolbites.co.uk, Emily Knight – all led in discussion by food and wine expert, Angela Mount. Previous rounds had included Best Local Cheese, Best Local Pie and Best Local Charcuterie – and the panel had just finished the mouth (and eye) watering chilli round when we arrived. After cakes, came confectionery – which saw the judges road-test the public’s favourite treats. Various delights vied for their attention, including violet creams, lime creams, apple and sambuca truffles, blackberry and absinthe truffles and ‘The Tickler’ chilli chocolate.
Free to enter, the awards have been open to restaurants, farm shops, delis, producers and suppliers within a 50-mile radius of Bristol – in the Bristol Pound Farm Link Initiative area. Co-organiser Anthony Bowles explained how, just like those at the Bristol Pound, the Bristol Good Food team feel it’s really important to do their best to support the development of the local food network. Meanwhile Rudy Millard, also co-organiser of the awards, spoke of how overwhelming the public response has been this year, and how much support has been gained in the space of a year.
Other categories, such as Best Restaurant, Best Newcomer, Best Wine List, Best Deli and Best Alfresco and Best Ambassador for Bristol Food (sounds like a big one) will be judged by way of mystery diner visits to restaurants.
Award-winners, including the winner of Outstanding Contribution to Sustainability, will be announced at a ceremony on 30th June at the Marriott – celebrating the region’s achievements and putting more Bristol producers on the foodie map.