Setting the Standards by John Gower

I was thrilled to be asked to be The British Charcuterie Awards head judge but I was aware of the responsibility – I had to get it right. The food industry seems littered with awards but far too many smack of marketing rather than a genuine recognition and celebration of our fantastic artisanal food makers. And here I was, invited to capture the essence of this increasingly popular sector, to recommend judges who knew and understood the finer points of charcuterie and to contribute to the drawing up of the judging classes.

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You can have no idea how complicated setting the classes proved. Like has to be judged against like to give each and every product a fair chance. We have ended up with a total of nine classes. A fair number, you may say but believe me, fewer would not be enough.  It is only when you create classes that take into account the production techniques and the different processes that result in different flavours and textures that you cover all your options.  I’m particularly pleased there is also a class for Traditional Cured British Regional Products - it will highlight our long history of preserved meats, often overshadowed by our continental-style counterparts nowadays.

I also had to be reassured that the British Charcuterie Awards stood alone and are truly independent. Of course, there are industry sponsors and suppliers but they will not, I assure you, be allowed to assert any undue influence. Judging will be blind and the points set for the different elements, - taste, texture, appearance etc – decided well in advance.

For the British Charcuterie Awards to team up with the BBC Countryfile Live 2018 is a wonderful opportunity for everyone.  Small producers can showcase their skills, meet their public, “share” their products and learn from the expert judges.

Visitors to the Show can find out about the products, sample, taste and of course buy the products – what could be better?To say that I am very proud to be involved and excited to form part of the team is an understatement. The British Charcuterie Awards are a genuine giant leap forward for British Charcuterie - such an event cannot fail to expand everyone’s appreciation of the craft. It’s almost too good to be true

Head Judge  John Gower Quiet Waters Farm