It was a great pleasure for us to receive and accept an invitation from The Guild of Fine Food for this year’s Golden Forks Awards. We had such fond memories of the 2022 event where we had been wowed both by the exceptional quality of the foodstuffs on offer and by the Guild of Fine Food’s stylish staging of the event within Southwark Cathedral.
This year was perhaps even more special, as it marked the 30th anniversary of the Golden Forks, aka the ‘Oscars of the Food World’.
Celebrating Thirty Years of Golden Forks
The Guild of Fine Food is by now perhaps the world’s largest and best trusted food and drink accreditation scheme.
2023 saw 14,195 products from the UK and far beyond entered to work their way through the Guild’s rigorous months-long professional judging process. Before the day, 4,088 products had been deemed worthy of a single star, 1,568 of two stars, and 248 – under 2% – a full three stars.
Those awards had already been announced. However, on a hot September evening, food producers, writers and industry experts assembled at London’s Battersea Arts Centre to hear which of the three-star products had been selected to receive the top awards.
The Edwardian splendours of BAC’s Grand Hall, risen again like the phoenix following a devastating fire back in 2015, provided a suitably spacious and atmospheric backdrop, glamorously lit for the occasion.
The top Awards…
On arrival we were offered drinks, canapés and the opportunity to tour 23 tasting stations, showcasing some of the three-star products.
Everything that we tried was delicious, of course. But how to know which of them would be the ultimate winners? We had no idea. However, one of the pictures we took actually includes two of them – and also suggests the heated and buzzy atmosphere in the splendid Hall.
In the foreground of the picture can be seen the Golden Fork for England winner, a piquant sour cherry molasses from Belazu Ingredients – a Sour Cherry Molasses which we thought would make a great addition to a casserole.
… and the Supreme Champion
Also pictured is the evening’s Supreme Champion – Roussas Dairy’s Greek Galotyri PDO Cheese – a light, creamy and pleasingly versatile soft cheese combining sheep and goats’ milk. It’s a spreadable pasteurised cheese made in Attica by a family business which has been producing premium feta and other traditional dairy products since the 1950s.
Encouraging new talent
The Guild of Fine Food is serious about encouraging new talent, and the award scheme has for several years included a Great Taste Startisan of the Year Award, presented to the best-performing three-star product entered by a business less than a year old.
We loved the caramelised-crust of the winning La Maritxu Basque Cheesecake, coincidentally made just a couple of miles away across the Thames – having started life as an architect’s sideline.
A sometimes-emotional award ceremony…
We took our seats for the award ceremony itself – a highly professional presentation split into two sessions to heighten the tension and featuring lights, music, film clips and the occasional Oscar-style weeping winner. Gaining one of these awards is, after all, a pretty big deal.
The nine Golden Fork categories we noticed were slightly different to 2022’s; apparently these are tweaked each year, with new awards being created for countries with more entries, while others may then get bundled into ‘rest of Europe’ or ‘rest of world’.
… and a new Bursary programme
It was good to hear that this year had also marked the launch of a Guild of Fine Food bursary programme, a new initiative giving 50 micro producers the opportunity to enter Great Taste free of charge. Twenty-one of those had gone on to win an award, including two three-star awards for Karobi’s Ghee and the Antur Brew Co.
One of the three-star winners was also one of our favourites: Thursday Cottages moreish Toffee Apple Curd, ingeniously served in apple-shaped chocolate shells.
Three stars all round
We went along expecting the food to be delicious, of course – by now the Guild of Fine Food stars have become something we know to trust when we see their logo on food and drink packaging. But what we never take for granted is the care, passion and knowledge of each and every accredited producer. It’s a privilege to get the chance to meet and talk to so many of them tasting and discussing their products whilst admiring the pains taken with their clever presentations.
We also extend our special commendation to caterers Dinner Ladies, for the succession of canapés and more substantial appetisers which circulated throughout the evening, allowing us a taste of quite a few more award-winning entries.
We had a great evening: thank you Guild of Fine Food! As ever, you laid on a stylish, well-organised and highly informative event.
Guild of Fine Food: gff.co.uk
Dinner Ladies: www.dinnerladiesltd.com/
Battersea Arts Centre Grand Hall: bac.org.uk/venue-hire/
Other 2023 Golden Fork winners
- Great Taste Golden Fork for England: Belazu Ingredient Company for Sour Cherry Molasses;
- Great Taste Golden Fork for Wales: Hive Mind Mead & Brew Co. for Wye Valley Mead Traditional Mead;
- Great Taste Golden Fork for Scotland: Loch Fyne Oysters for Loch Fyne Kinglas Fillet;
- Great Taste Golden Fork for Northern Ireland: Mauds Ice Creams for Pistachio Ice Cream;
- Great Taste Golden Fork for Ireland: Silver Hill Duck for Confit Duck Legs;
- Great Taste Golden Fork for Spain: Fino for Dark PX Balsamic Vinegar;
- Great Taste Golden Fork for Italy: Caseificio Il Fiorino for Cacio di Afrodite;
- Great Taste Golden Fork for the Rest of Europe: Bagoila for Cold Pressed Pumpkin Seed Oil;
- Great Taste Golden Fork for the Rest of the World: DoYouBo for Naturally Brewed Brown Soybean Soy Sauce;
- Great Taste Startisan of the Year: La Maritxu.