Great Taste Awards come to Tipp – international judges hosted for a series of special events by Tipperary Food Producers Network
Tipperary Food Producers is a community of businesses working in the food and beverage sector in County Tipperary whose objective is to represent, promote and showcase the very best of Tipperary food. An organisation that currently has 29 member businesses working together, they will be joining in a spirit of meitheal, of cooperation and mutual assistance, to welcome national & international guest judges from the Great Taste Awards to the county this April.
The annual Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, are considered the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the ‘epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize’, being an acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink.
Last year over 400 judges came together at 49 judging days from March through to early July, including a judging roadshow that travelled to Wales. This year the Great Taste Awards travel again – this time to Ireland and, while it may be a long way to Tipperary, it will certainly be made worth their while, as the judging panel will be hosted by Tipperary Food Producers for a series of three very special and individual events, showcasing the produce, the talent and the welcome of the Premier County.
Last year’s overall champion, the Harrods Trophy Supreme Champion 2015, winner of a coveted Golden Fork and three gold stars, was James Whelan Butchers’ magnificent Beef Dripping. Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers is the current Chairperson of Tipperary Food Producers, so his passion for the area and his enthusiasm for having the opportunity to introduce these important international opinion-makers the best of his home county have been a major factor in this year’s judging roadshow decision.
“Winning the Supreme Champion Award with our Beef Dripping at the Great Taste Awards last year was phenomenal,” says Pat Whelan, Chairperson of Tipperary Food Producers Network, “and I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my pride and passion for Tipperary produce with some of the people who made that decision, and those who will choose this year’s winners.
This network of businesses is driven by producers whose core values of ethics, integrity and excellence are a perfect fit with the philosophy of the Great Taste Awards, so I am looking forward to introducing our guests to some great flavours and wonderful people over the course of three unforgettable evenings.”
At the end of each of the three judging days spent in Tipperary, blind-tasting a range of food and drink from all over Ireland for this year’s Great Taste Awards, the visiting judges will be taken to a series of events designed to highlight this county’s bounty.
On Tuesday 26th of April, judges spend an evening at the famous Coolmore Stud, on a behind-the-scenes tour of the stud generally acknowledged to be the world’s biggest and best thoroughbred racehorse breeding operation. Followed by a BBQ dining experience featuring local products and an opportunity to meet Tipperary food producers, the evening will progress to McCarthy’s of Fethard for music and craic!
On Wednesday 27th of April, judges have an evening tour of the majestic Rock Of Cashel, followed by a drinks reception featuring locally produced beverages on the Rock. Dinner will be a long table dinner in Chez Hans, in its spectacular setting of a converted Victorian Gothic church.
The last evening, Thursday 28th of April, is an intimate evening with individual Tipperary Food Producers, where groups of judges and guests will be hosted at various locations throughout the county by different members of the Network, to experience a personal and authentic Tipperary welcome, culinary and cultural experience.
The judges, from all corners of the food world, have three busy days of judging ahead of them in Tipperary this April, but also three evenings packed full of flavour, colour, welcome and fun in the capable hands of Tipperary Food Producers.
“This is an exciting project that has been made possible by the generous support of all the local and national agencies,” says Pat Whelan, Chairperson of Tipperary Food Producers, “and their collaboration is immensely appreciated by all at Tipperary Food Producers. Our sincere thanks go to Tipperary County Council, Bord Bia, Local Enterprise Office Tipperary, Tipperary Tourism Company, Department of Agriculture Food & the Marine, North Tipperary Leader Partnership, and South Tipperary Development Company.”