This month Clare has been in London judging at the Great Taste Awards 2022, tasting everything from popcorn and honey to olive oil and fish pie in search of delicious products worthy of a gold star or more!

Judging runs daily over several weeks, each session bringing together industry experts including chefs, buyers, writers and retailers, all with a passion for fabulous food and drink and a curiosity to discover products bursting with fantastic flavour. The Great Taste Awards are run annually by The Guild of Fine Food. Since their inception in 1994 more than 150,000 entries have been judged and the gold stars have become a trusted sign of fine ingredients and high quality products.

Diving into the eclectic line up of products on a judging table truly bombards the senses. The 10am start can feel early for curry and chocolate - experience has taught Clare to keep breakfast light before arriving at the Guild’s London HQ near Borough Market. Each product is judged blind with all packaging removed or concealed. This allows it to be assessed purely on its appearance, aroma, texture and of course flavour. Lively discussion ensues amongst the table’s two or three judges to deem a product worthy of an award and provide the producer with valuable feedback.

A product awarded one star is described as ‘simply delicious’. With only 25% of entries each year reaching even this standard, the stars are highly coveted. Those products that receive two stars are deemed ‘outstanding’, above and beyond delicious. Less than 10% of entries receive this rating and the highest accolade of three stars is awarded to only 2% of products, those considered ‘exquisite’. During the judging process products will be circulated around a series of tables to ensure consensus of opinion, particularly when it comes to those in the running for a top rating. Three stars must be awarded consecutively by at least four different judging groups and then a ripple of excitement floods the room with the ringing of a bell to announce its discovery.

For Clare highlights from this year’s judging room have been a beautiful earthy truffle-infused salt; a bean-to-bar chocolate studded with lime and crystallized ginger; and an amber coloured maple syrup, long in flavour with notes of liquorice and dates.  A day immersed in amazing food and the enthusiastic company of fellow foodies is always a great experience. Clare eagerly anticipates the announcement of this year’s results and getting some of the winning products on the shelves at Slate.