The West Country is bursting at the seams with fresh local produce and top class pubs, restaurants and cafés. Now, Taste of the West, the leading food and drink organisation for the South West, is looking for the finest food and drink producers and foodie destinations to celebrate the magnificent food and drink of the region. This is the largest regional awards programme in Britain and Taste of the West Gold, Silver and Bronze award winners’ logos are widely recognised as a sign of quality and provenance across the country, helping to boost business for the winners.
John Sheaves, Chief Executive of Taste of the West, said, “We are delighted to have launched the 2014 awards as we look forward to another record breaking year in this our 21st year. Throughout February we are actively encouraging all producers to enter their products into the programme. We are also looking for owners and managers of pubs, restaurants, cafés and shops to enter the retail and hospitality categories. In fact, everyone who believes in the high quality of local and regional food and drink should get involved.”
The Product Awards are open to members and non-members of Taste of the West, with Producer members being entitled to enter a number of products free of charge. The standard entry fee is £37.50 + VAT per product. New for 2014 is the division of the Fish category; Fresh Fish and Fish Product. Cider has also been divided into two categories; Apple Ciders & Perry and Flavoured & Fruit Ciders.
The judging of all food and drink entries takes place this year over the Easter holidays, and the Bronze, Silver and Gold winners will be announced at the end of April. The 2014 awards ceremony will then take place in the early autumn, where the Best of Category winners and the winner of the coveted Champion Product will be announced.
Jeannie Morrissey from Pork Heaven from Devon has won the Best Sausage category in both 2012 and 2013. She says “We just love Taste of the West and how our successes with you have such a positive effect on our very small business. We have also had many more enquiries from our website, consequently we have set up a courier service to take our produce nationwide. We try to display as many of our awards as possible at farmers’ markets and events, which never fails to attract customers. Taste of the West has inspired us, and given us the confidence to promote our business further.”
Wing of St Mawes in Cornwall achieved Silver and Gold Awards in 2013, and commented: “Winning Taste of the West awards helps to add more trust and authority to our products, giving quality assurance to our customers. It’s an accolade we use very proudly across all our marketing communications”.
All Retail and Foodservice members of Taste of the West are entitled to enter their establishments into one of the hospitality and retail categories free of charge; non-members of Taste of the West can enter the awards for the standard entry price of £100.00 + VAT. To make the competition even easier for Hospitality & Retail entrants THERE ARE NO ENTRY FORMS TO FILL IN!
Anyone wishing to be judged in one of the six Hospitality classes or the six Retail classes just has to register their interest by firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.tasteofthewest.co.uk. New categories for 2014 include Local Food to Go, Casual Dining and Farmers’ Markets, which is free for all to enter. Judging is already underway and will continue until the summer with results being announced as they come in; thus giving entrants an even longer time to shout about their successes.
All award winners will receive a Taste of the West certificate plus winners’ logos to help them advertise their wins plus window stickers and the opportunity to purchase labels and plaques as well as constructive feedback from the judges.
Steven Jenkins of the Miner’s Country Inn in Sling, Gloucestershire won a Bronze award in 2013 and commented “We were delighted to win a Bronze Award in our first year of changing the Miners Country Inn from a drinking pub to one which serves great food. The feedback from the judges was invaluable and we get two or three people each week who come here just because of our Award as well as many more that come from miles around. We are overwhelmed.”
The closing date for all product entry forms is 28th February. Entry forms are available to download from the website www.tasteofthewest.co.uk.
Hospitality and retail establishments have until 1st July to enter the awards, though entrants are encouraged to enter sooner rather than later to guarantee maximum and ongoing publicity throughout the year!
This year’s awards sponsors are RAW PR, Total Produce, Smith & Williamson, Old Mill, Tamar Labels, Quayside Technical Services, NatWest, Westpoint, Devon County Show, WPS, Source, @34 and Exeter College.