Produce Awards 2018: The Perth Show judging

Produce Awards 2018: The Perth Show judging

August 2018 

By Valentina Harris

The setting 
Arriving in Perth by train last Wednesday, in a typically Scottish drizzle, did not bode well for The Perth Show on South Inch. In this wide green space, close to the city centre, preparations for the annual event were already under way.

Thursday was set-up day for me and I was relieved that the rain kept off all day. This allowed me to accept the delivery of all 19 entries for the Scottish round of judging, for the delicious. Produce Awards 2018. As I worked on my purpose-built trailer, the vast tent decorated with pink and blue bunting, which housed Perthshire on a Plate, began to slowly and steadily fill up with stall holders. They were selling everything from Clootie Dumplings to artisan cheeses, tablet, chocolate, delicious jams and honey.

At the far end, chairs were lined up in front of the main stage. Here, chefs from all over Scotland would share their secrets and recipes over the course of the weekend. All will be presented by Wendy Barrie, founder and director of the independent award-winning Scottish Food Guide. What Wendy doesn’t know about Scottish food and drink simply isn’t worth knowing.

Bumping into old friends     
On Friday, our judging day, the sun shone even brighter. As I waited for the three judges to arrive I bumped into Paul Rankin, who I hadn’t seen since our days together on Ready Steady Cook. He was demonstrating his skills in the cookery theatre, but before he went on stage, we indulged in much reminiscing.

The judges 
One of our judges in the Scottish round was Fiona Burrell, founder of The Edinburgh New Town Cookery School. She used to be the principal at Leith’s when I taught there many years ago, so inevitably there was more reminiscing to be done! The other judges were Mark Heirs, a private chef with an incredible pedigree and quarter finalist in Masterchef Professionals. And Sue Lawrence, the food writer with a real passion for all things Scottish when it comes to local ingredients and traditional recipes.

As always, the judging and tasting process was carried out over several hours with great care, much debate and discussion. In each case, our judges carefully weighed up how well the entries met the criteria, and discussed every aspect in great detail.

In the end, ten fantastic products from Scotland were chosen for the final shortlist – my congratulations go out to those producers who made it through to the final judging on October 10th at Borough Market. The final shortlist was announced in the Perthshire on a Plate tent, on the main stage, that same afternoon. Commiserations to those who didn’t make it, but we were nevertheless very pleased to have had the opportunity to taste and judge all the entries.

Thank you to our three judges for doing such a great job. Next stop: Nantwich in a couple of weeks time.

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