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Tipperary to host Great Taste, as roadshow visits home of 2015 Supreme Champion

Amy Brice

Great Taste

Great Taste will judge Irish food and drink products on home soil this year at the Hotel Minella in Clonmel, Tipperary from Tuesday 26 – Friday 29 April 2016. Irish producers had a remarkable year in 2015, with over 300 Great Taste award-winning products from Ireland and the Supreme Champion award going to Clonmel’s own James Whelan Butchers for its Beef Dripping. Tipperary Food Producers, which showcases the best food and drink in Tipperary, has invited the Guild of Fine Food to host the judging process in the Irish county for the first time.

With a whole host of experts lined up to blind taste the Irish entries, including esteemed food critic, Charles Campion, BBC Radio 2’s Nigel Barden and many chefs, buyers, restaurateurs and writers, the Great Taste roadshow will put the spotlight firmly on Ireland’s diverse and innovative food and drink producers.

This year has seen an uplift in Great Taste entries from Ireland, with 215 companies entering products in 2016 compared to 157 in 2015. An impressive 310 coveted Great Taste awards went to products from Ireland last year, with 243 entries achieving 1-star, 59 getting a 2-star and eight being deemed worthy of the 3-star accolade. Among this elite selection of food and drink products to be awarded the unmistakable gold and black Great Taste logo, were Organic Smoked Salmon from Quinlan's Kerryfish, Cep Oil from Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms and Howling Gale Irish Pale Ale from Eight Degrees Brewing.

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, explains;

“Our Great Taste judges have visited Belfast, Dublin and Cardiff in recent years and these roadshows have been fantastic at raising the profile of Great Taste, the winning producers and the location itself as a food destination to be reckoned with. This year we’re holding more roadshows than ever and are delighted to have been invited to Clonmel by Tipperary Food Producers. With its rich food heritage, we know our judges will be in for a treat when they lend us their taste buds in Tipperary, a county which last year gave us the Supreme Champion and the wonderful story of the beef dripping, which was brought back from the brink through a combination of tradition, sustainability and innovation to produce a truly exceptional product. We look forward to uncovering some more hidden gems this year and bringing them to a worldwide audience which we know is eager to source from the list of Great Taste stars.”

Pat Whelan, owner of Great Taste Supreme Champion 2015, James Whelan Butchers and member of Tipperary Food Producers, adds;

“We’re absolutely delighted to be welcoming Great Taste to Clonmel this year and I’m really looking forward to seeing which Irish products wow the judges. Great Taste gives artisan producers such a valuable platform to grow their businesses and our Beef Dripping winning Supreme Champion last year pays testament to that fact. It wasn’t long ago that we were trying to think of ways utilise the whole carcass and reduce waste, when my mam showed me how to make beef dripping, and four years later we’re awarded the highest accolade in food and drink and find ourselves stocked in Harrods. Great Taste is truly the benchmark for fine food in Ireland and the UK, in no small part due to it being blind-tasted and therefore retaining its integrity, with no interest in branding or packaging.”

The judging process draws to a close in July and the award-winning products will be announced in August.

More information on Great Taste can be found at www.greattasteawards.co.uk.

For more information about The Guild of Fine Food visit www.gff.co.uk.