I was a judge at the recent Great Taste Awards at the Real Food Festival in London last weekend. It was a salutary experience.
That is putting it politely.
Some of the entries had an ersatz look and taste. Lemonliness, for example? Think pungent-smelling disinfectant.
The Great Taste marquee seated about 100 judges at different tables. The judges at mine included three other food writers and one buyer from a posh department store. She had all the technical words whereas I was going: “Yak, I can’t eat this.”
Our brief? To taste seven olive oils as well as confectionary, cakes and biscuits. Cruel combination, but we were game. We discussed each item thoroughly, making copious notes including constructive suggestions.
My fellow judges allowed only one item, a fresh and intriguing amaretto chocolate, on to the next stage.
It is good to know judging is discerning so a Great Taste Award is worth its…salt.
But where was the taste? I felt commercial concerns with clout and confidence were the ones putting their products up for judging.
Back on the showfloor, there was real food galore.
For example the Nibchoc stall with its Raw Cocoa Bar with Ginger Nibs was a sumptuous ginger taste-sensation and healthy to boot.
My message is: if there are any artisan or small organic food producers out there, thinking:
“Do I dare put my product in front of the Great Taste judges?”
I would say: Do It.
Get out there, real food makers, and strut your stuff for the 2010 awards!