The winners of the 2021 Blas na hÉireann awards have been announced, with many of Ireland’s best producers taking their place alongside new entrants, innovative products and chef’s favourites.
Also known as the Irish Food Awards, the annual Blas awards celebrate the best in Irish food and drink, as well as the producers behind the labels. Like in 2020, this year’s ceremony took place online with the winners revealed in a series of pre-recorded videos.
“These are the 14th annual Blas na hÉireann awards,” said founder Artie Clifford, “and despite the very challenging situation, I am delighted to report a record entry level from producers right across the island. This large increase in entries has raised the bar across all categories, allowing us to introduce new products and producers to the buyers and press with whom we work, which is really exciting. Congratulations to all the winners and to every producer who participated. It is always such a rewarding experience to see the wealth of exceptional foods being produced on the island of Ireland, and this has been the best year yet.”
This year’s Supreme Champion award went to Wild About for their So Sloe Jelly. Wile About is a multi award winning producer based in Co. Wexford where they grow and forage a range of ingredients to produce low susgar, sustainably made dressings, chutneys, jams and more. Their award winning So Sloe Jelly is made with wild sloe berries from the farm’s Blackthorn bush, mixed witha hint of star anise.
Temptation Pâtisserie was awarded Best Artisan Product for their Sea Salt Caramel Bar. Twins Kate and Ruth O’Hara are the names behind Temptation Pâtisserie, which was set up only last year. The self taight chocolatiers are already making a name for themselves for their premium quality chocolates and more, produced in small batches from ethically sourced ingredients in Mountmellick.
The biggest blind tasting of produce in the country, the criteria on which the product is judged as well as the judging system itself, which was developed by Blas na hÉireann with the Food Science Dept of UCC and the University of Copenhagen, is now recognised as an industry gold standard worldwide.
There was good news for retailer Aldi, with 35 producers supplying to its stores all picking up awards.
Speaking about the awards, John Curtin, Group Buying Director at Aldi Ireland, said: “Quality and Irish produced food are key pillars for Aldi, and we ensure that we work closely with as many Irish producers as possible, meaning our customers can enjoy quality, Irish produce, at the very best prices. We’re over the moon to have had yet another successful year at the Blas na hÉireann awards, with our Irish suppliers once again receiving the accolades that they deserve. We always love going down to Dingle and attending the weekend in person and are already looking forward to next year when we can hopefully celebrate our successes together in person, but in the meantime, we would like to congratulate our suppliers, their teams and the Buying Teams at Aldi on their successes.”
Products from every county in Ireland were entered into this year’s competition to win Gold, Silver or Bronze Blas na hÉireann awards in over 150 food and drink categories, as well as key awards like Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Producer.