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Championing very best of Westcountry's food industry

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 17, 2012

Taste of the West award winners with chief executive John Sheaves at the Eden Project, above. And below: WMN columnist Tim Maddams presents the Carol Trewin award for South West Producer of the Year to the Exmouth Mussel Company's Lisa and Miles Blood-Smyth  pictures: STEVEN HAYWOOD

Taste of the West award winners with chief executive John Sheaves at the Eden Project, above. And below: WMN columnist Tim Maddams presents the Carol Trewin award for South West Producer of the Year to the Exmouth Mussel Company's Lisa and Miles Blood-Smyth pictures: STEVEN HAYWOOD

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Such is the competition to be named as one of the top Westcountry producers, that the judging process is almost a year-round affair.

Now in its 19th year, the Taste of the West producer awards finds the great and the good in the Westcountry's food industry.

More than a thousand items have been tasted and tested to be awarded bronze, silver or gold. And at the Eden Project in Cornwall yesterday, the golden wonders discovered who among them was best in class in 24 different categories.

These ranged from sweet and savoury baked goods, through confectionery, cheese and dairy products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and a vast array of fish and meat products, to ready meals and sauces.

If it sounds like a county show, that's intentional, says Taste of the West chief executive John Sheaves. He says it takes a lot of effort and a lot of admin to judge the entries, but it's important to get it right.

"The integrity of these awards is crucial for both producers and consumers," he said.

"The consumer needs to understand that everything goes through a vigorous process."

But for the producers taking part, it's worth all the hard work, continued John.

"It really helps them. It changes their business and opens up marketing opportunities."

Alongside the producer awards, Taste of the West handed out hospitality and retail awards – the WMN Flavour Awards, which recognise excellence in the people serving up the Westcountry's food and drink.

Held for the first time, the Flavour Awards attracted some familiar names and some stars of the future.

The hotly contested best restaurant award attracted well-known and popular names including Nathan Outlaw – a gold winner for his eponymous restaurant in Rock as well as the Seafood and Grill restaurant – Tides Reach, Barclay House and East Looe's Trawlers on the Quay. But it was Brett Sutton at the Conservatory at the Eastbury Hotel who won the award.

In other awards, The South West Dining Pub of the Year is The Lazy Toad at Brampford Speke, near Exeter; the farm shop of the year is Darts Farm at Topsham in Devon and picking up the award for best online retailer is Gribbles Butchers.

Three categories found easy champions, as they were the only gold winners in their class: the Farmers' Market of the year is Tavistock, Town Mill Cheesemonger is the region's speciality shop of the year and South West Butcher of the year is GT Orsman of Shaldon.

The glittering prizes ended with three special presentations. Cape Cornwall School in Penzance won for best school food and champion product of the year went to Lovaton farm.

The Carol Trewin South West Producer of the Year, named in memory of the WMN's late food editor went to the Exmouth Mussel Company.

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