In the inaugural year for the World Charcuterie Awards, the results were revealed at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair in London on 11 September with some real surprises.
This is the first time all the countries have pitted their products against each other – the traditional producers – Italy, Spain France – against the new world producers – England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, USA , Australia, New Zealand, Eire etc, and it’s been fascinating to see how the British producers who are comparatively new to the Continental-style production were competing with their “new-style” products against some of the experienced giants from Spain, Italy and France.
Against huge competition with over 400 products entered into the Awards from Charcuterie makers in 17 countries, the judges awarded Champion Product (& Best in Class 1) to Spanish producer JOVIRA, S.A. for their Jamon De Bellota 100% Iberico.
Admittedly this is the beginning but it’s so exciting to have a World Stage for Charcuterie. Already Charcuterie experts from all over the World have offered to judge and Charcuterie producers want to enter the Awards next year – an encouraging sign. As we all learn about each other’s specialities – the subtle differences of cure and maturation that can result in the huge variety of flavours – then we can all grow to love the broader flavour palette that Charcuterie offers.
Keith Fisher, Head Judge & Chief Executive, The Institute of Meat commented, “It’s a thrilling contest. There are medals awarded to Charcuterie producers from Australia, New Zealand, USA as well as the well-established European producers. As for the UK-based producers…who knew? In Class 1 – cured and air-dried whole muscle products – a British producer was beaten by the merest whisker as winner of Best in Class. Full credit is due to British producers who are finally taking their place on World stage.”
Over 40 expert judges, buyers, butchers, makers, retailers, food writers and consultants including chefs Valentina Harris and Darina Allen and Charcuterie buyers from Selfridges, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.
The judging took place at Billingsgate Kitchen, Billingsgate Market over the week of Monday 21 – Friday 25 August.
All judging was carried out blind and to a unique scoring system devised by Head Judge Keith Fisher who was in attendance throughout the judging days to ensure complete fairness.
Products were judged on the taste, length of flavour, mouth feel, appearance, tradition or innovation.
There are eight classes to cover all aspects of Charcuterie from air-dried to cooked hams, salamis and bacon, made from meat, game or poultry, with classes including worldwide regional specialities with a Best in Class awarded to the top scoring product in each class.
An indication of the strength of the entries, there were a total of 17 gold, 52 silver and 54 bronze medals awarded across the eight classes.
In addition to the overall Best in Class Awards, there are Star Awards for British Charcuterie, judged by the same criteria.
Champion Producer – There were with many contenders for this coveted award, but the spread of products was uneven and not representational of the excellence of the entries and the high standards achieved. The Judging Committee therefore decided not to award Champion Producer in 2023 and to revise the criteria for 2024.
Please note: Producers & Importers that entered the World Charcuterie Awards 2023 can find their individual results, including feedback from the judges, by logging in to their My Awards Account.
Producers from the EU are beginning to be aware and selective about their raw materials, recognising how this affects the eating quality of their products They are paying far more attention to how their livestock is reared, the breed and feed. Until recently, this was primarily a British concern but is now being adopted world-wide.
And while there is still a predominance of products enters in Class 1: Cured, Air-Dried & Ready-to-Eat Whole Muscle Products, and Class 3: Cured, Fermented & Air Dried Ready-to-Eat Sausage Products – the most traditional Charcuterie products – nudging up in entry numbers is Class 8 – Snacking Charcuterie. It represents a great growth opportunity. More and more Charcuterie Lovers, particularly the young, enjoy snacking on Charcuterie. It’s easy to eat to enjoy, and far less work than creating a Charcuterie Board.
Henrietta GreenFounder, World Charcuterie Awards LtdResults published: 11 September 2023
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