By MICK WHITWORTH
Northern Ireland has produced its second Great Taste Supreme Champion in as many years after an Italian-style dry-cured pigs’ cheek from County Antrim took top slot in the 2012 awards.
Moyallon Guanciale is made by Hannan Meats, which is based in Moira, near Craigavon, and is a near neighbour of last year’s Supreme Champion winner, McCartney’s of Moira.
Hannan’s triumph was announced at the Great Taste awards dinner at London’s Royal Garden Hotel on Monday evening, where the trophy was presented to MD Peter Hannan (pictured centre) by Simon Burdess (left) of sponsor Fortnum & Mason.
Hannan developed its bacon-style guanciale, a spicier but softer-textured alternative to pancetta, after requests from Italian restaurant clients. The delicacy is becoming hard to find even in its heartland of Lazio and Umbria, and Hannan is believed to be the only UK producer.
“This is simply an exquisite example of a product that has its roots in Italy but has been made brilliantly in Great Britain,” said Bob Farrand, chairman of the Guild of Fine Food.
Other major winners announced on Monday included Simple Simon Perfect Pies, based in Lanarkshire, named Speciality Producer of the Year for its consistently strong performance in the awards over a number of years.
Paul Kelly of Kelly Turkeys received a new Great Taste VIP Award sponsored by consumer magazine Woman & Home.
The Guild of Fine Food’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to Nigel Cope, founder and chairman of Cottage Delight.
The evening also saw Delilah Fine Foods of Nottingham, run by Sangita Tryner, named 2012 Deli of the Year in the annual competition run by Olives Et Al and supported by the Guild.
A full list of winners is available at www.finefoodworld.co.uk.
Great Taste 2012 was judged during 45 days of blind-tasting by a panel that included Masterchef winner and restaurateur Mat Follas, restaurant critic and Masterchef judge Charles Campion, food writers Lucas Hollweg and Xanthe Clay and more than 300 food buyers from leading food halls, such as Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, as well as delicatessens and farm shops across the country.
From beers to brownies, 8,807 different products were entered, with 2,670 awarded one- and two-star golds and just 123 receiving the coveted three-star gold.