Our judges for this round were local residents Linda Osman, Mary MacNeal and Philip Lowery, founder and director of Real Food Festivals. Philip proved to be a very valuable and worthy substitute for judge Charlie Turnbull who unfortunately was not able to join us.
Just a stone’s throw from Bournemouth airport, in a wide field framed with trees, we settled into our beautifully appointed Fisher and Paykel purpose built trailer. Beautiful, black, white and shiny, this vehicle was painstakingly created for us by Love Food. In the cool, comfortable shade we set about carefully tasting and evaluating 39 products from all over the south west. We followed the strictly set criteria of quality and appearance, taste, provenance, and passion.
As always, there were some really amazing entries including, a really traditional and very obviously hand made Cornish pasty from Ann’s Pasties, some deliciously-fresh oysters from Porlock Oysters and the most extraordinarily-authentic gelato that I have tasted outside Italy! We were very impressed with the commitment to providing local employment, issues surrounding sustainability and the careful sourcing of local produce shown by many of the entries. We were also blown away by the entrepreneurial spirit shown by many producers creating new and very different products, such as the Artisan Malt Vinegar Company.
The standard of the products in this region was generally very high. There were a great many entries that scored high enough to go through to the national shortlist. Well done and many congratulations to all the worthy finalists! We will be seeing you again at Borough Market for the finals, in October, where the judging will be led by Prue Leith. My heartfelt commiserations go out to all to those who did not make it through, and better luck next year!
I’m off to Perthshire next for the Scottish round of judging. Here I hope to taste and discover all sorts of wonderful products. I am so looking forward to spending a day with the judges, which include the amazing Masterchef the Professional quarter finalist Chef Mark Heirs. Good luck to everyone who has entered their lovingly-produced products into the line up for this remarkable road show – I am so proud of you all and thrilled to be a part of this!