Taste Cumbria Gold Awards
Cumbria Life and Taste Cumbria have joined forces to launch the county's first 'taste awards' to recognise and benchmark Cumbria's very best food and drink products.
The new scheme, called the Taste Cumbria Gold Awards, represents a major expansion of the Cumbria LifeFood & Drink Awards, now in their second year.
Last year's awards had a limited number of 'taste' categories - beer, puddings, Cumberland sausage, bread and condiments - where food and drink products were tasted and judged on their quality.
For this year's awards, the 'taste' section has been expanded to allow entries from any Cumbrian food or drink product.
Instead of category winners, runners up and 'losers', all products will be rated for quality by an independent panel of judges and all those reaching an agreed standard of excellence will win the 'Taste Cumbria Gold'accreditation.
The very best of the Gold Award winners, judged to be of a nationally outstanding standard, will be named 'Taste Cumbria Champion' products.
Judging will take place at Kendal College on Monday November 19. An independent panel of judges drawn from across the north west consisting of chefs and food industry experts will blind-taste the products which will be served or prepared to the requested specification, by the college's senior chef lecturers.
Gold Award winners will be announced in December at a lunchtime reception at Kendal College and Champion Award winners announced at the main Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards on January 25.
Taste Cumbria is a three year programme to champion Cumbria food and promote food tourism to the county.
Food Tourism manager Mary Houston said: "Awards provide consumers with evidence of a high-quality product and they act as a very powerful marketing tool for food and drink businesses but their integrity is essential.
"In working on these awards with Cumbria Life, Taste Cumbria aims to dispel any mystery around how and why certain products win awards and others don't. We want to pioneer a transparent process, with strict - justified and publicised - judging criteria and expert, objective judges, so that everyone can see how these decisions were reached.
"We believe that providing entrants with feedback is just as important as the rest of the process. Whether you've won or not, you'll want to know why. Also, structured, expert advice may inspire new business or product ideas not previously considered, and new networking and trading opportunities can result.
"Taste Cumbria will promote the group of Taste Cumbria Gold products that come out of the event to national media, creating a prestigious, umbrella brand for Cumbrian food and drink, and attracting trade and boosting visitor spend as a result."