As Britain’s gastronomic culture continues to flourish across the near-infinitely broad spectrum of food, drink, production, and skills, we’ve now been in a position for several years now to acknowledge and gain a deeper understanding of our flourishing industries. Our insatiable thirst for knowledge of these subjects – kebabs, curries, and almost anything else you can think of these days – gives us a duty-bound role in honouring producers and champions of these industries across the board.
2018 is continuing this process by recognising a key sector which plays a part in all corners of the UK and is part of our everyday lives. Ethical meat is (rightly) now a big part of the industry and is equally important to producers and consumers alike; it’s good for the animals and it’s responsible for driving quality and excellence in production and sourcing all the way to the dinner table – which will make the following announcement even more anticipating.
This year, the inaugural British Charcuterie Awards will take place in the dedicated British Charcuterie Tent, on August 2nd, which is the first day of BBC Countryfile Live 2018, held at Blenheim Palace between 2nd – 5th August. Co-founders Henrietta Green and Charlotte Sharpe-Neal are encouraging farmers, butchers, meat processors and chefs to compete in the nine different classes. These range from air-dried and ready-to-eat whole muscle to native and heritage products with a Champion of Champions Product and Champion of Champions Producer selected from the nine categories.
The judging team has been expanded to more than twenty leading food, retail, and hospitality experts, with more to come on-board. The line-up now includes Head Judge John Gower, who set up the New York’s Charcuterie Masters, British Bake Off co-judge Prue Leith, Chefs Angela Hartnett, James Lowe, Ben Tish, Adam Handling and Neil Borthwick, master butcher David Lidgate, charcutier extraordinaire Stephane Reynaud, Monika Linton, founder of Brindisa, Rich Summers of The School of Artisan Food, food writers Xanthe Clay and Felicity Cloake, Graham Stoodley Charcuterie Manager for Harvey & Brockless, Shane Holland of Slow Food UK, and Tom Beeston of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Despite being in its infancy, you’ll have noticed above the calibre of culinary heavyweights taking part as judges in the first year of what hopefully soon will become a mainstay in the foodie calendar, and is testament to how this industry is going from strength to strength. “British charcuterie is showing such dynamic development, we feel the time is right for all producers, artisanal or larger-scale, to have an appropriate public showcase for their diverse ranges,” says Henrietta Green.
There are estimated to be over 300 British charcuterie producers in the UK at present, and the sector is growing. “British charcuterie is much more than just mirroring our foreign cousins. Our producers create great-tasting products, some new with distinctly different ingredients and characteristics, and others echoing our heritage. Our award categories are designed to reflect this complexity and quality,” says awards co-founder Charlotte Sharpe-Neal.
British charcuterie makers and associated producers will also be able to take stalls within the British Charcuterie Tent to sell their products to the public attending Countryfile Live. There were 120,000 visitors across the four days of the show in 2017.
Application forms for the awards, and information on exhibiting within the Charcuterie Tent are available from firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.britishcharcuterie.live. They can be found on Twitter at @britcharcuterie, Instagram @britishcharcuterie or Facebook on Britishcharcuterie.live.