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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Free range streaky bacon, a pork, prune and Calvados pie, an Irish whisky truffle, and a Gouda-style cheese from Ireland were among the top prize winners at the 15th annual Great Taste Awards held in London this week.
But this year's Supreme Champion Award went to a blackcurrant and kirsch sorbet, made by Beckleberry's Artisan Foods, from the northeastern English area of Tyne and Wear.
Selected from nearly 4,800 entries from across Britain, by 160 food experts, over 24 days the sorbet was described by panel member Alex James, ex-member of British rock band Blur, as "a strange kind of alchemy."
"The balance between the blackcurrant and the kirsch is some weird magic," said James, who has traded the stage for farming.
Bob Farrand of the Guild of Fine Foods, who run the awards, acknowledged the other finalists, including brownies from Lancashire-based bakers More? and Otter Head Beer from the independent Otter Brewery in southwest England, but had highest praise for the sorbet.
"The only way I can define what makes a Supreme Champion is that feeling when you eat or drink something and you spontaneously want to turn to the person next to you and say "crikey! You've got to try that," Farrand said.
He said the sorbet was a testimony to small-scale artisan cooking by Beckleberry's father and son partnership that have been producing them for upscale restaurants in northern England.
"They're so good some chefs have been known to pass them off as their own," Farrand said.
Beckleberry's can now expect a run on their iced-dessert, if the experiences of last year's winner, Walter Smith's Pork Pie are anything to go by.
"What winning did for that business last year is unbelievable," continues Mr Farrand. "That pork pie went from 0.5 percent of their turnover to well over 10 per cent."
All of the prize-winners are currently available in Fortnum and Mason stores, who sponsor the awards, across the country as part of a nine-day promotion of locally made food.
It has been a record year for the Great Taste Awards with 2021 small food producers entering just under 4,800 foods for judging. In total there were over 1,150 gold awards of which 847 achieved 1 star, 220 were awarded 2 star and 72 received the coveted 3 stars.
Editing by Paul Casciato