Corned beef from a Northern Ireland family butcher has beaten over 7,000 entrants to be named Supreme Champion in this year’s Great Taste Awards.
McCartney’s of Moira has been in business in County Down for around 140 years but only started producing corned beef four years ago. It makes the product by hand using dry-aged local beef and a traditional meat press.
The Supreme Champion title was presented last night at the Great Taste Awards finals at London’s Royal Garden Hotel.
George McCartney of McCartney’s of Moira said: “I’m stunned. I have such a fantastic team with my longest members having been with me for 27 years. I want to pay tribute to the Guild of Fine Food for the amount of effort they put into each producer. As we all know, there is a recession still on and this will really give Northern Ireland the boost it needs and deserves”
Now in its 18th year, the Great Taste Awards scheme recognises the best-tasting food and drink available in UK delis, farm shops, upmarket food halls and; increasingly, supermarkets.
Over 350 chefs, restaurant critics and specialist retail buyers and other independent food experts were involved in this year’s judging, including TV chef Antonio Carluccio, Masterchef winner Dhruv Baker and top food buyers at Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges.
They whittled an initial 7,482 entries down to around 2,400 Great Taste Awards winners, who can now add the familiar black-and-gold one-star, two-star or three-star labels to their jars and packs. Just 114 of these were awarded the top three-star gold awards.
The big regional and national winners, chosen from among the three-star gold products, were presented with their Great Taste Awards ‘golden forks’ last night. They included fine chocolates from London chocolatier Mark Demarquette, Oolong tea from Wan Ling Tea House and Sicilian pistachio ice cream from Spurreli in Northumberland.
Other big winners this year included oak-smoked herring from Scotland’s J Lawrie & Sons and Duchy Originals dry-cured organic bacon, produced by Denhay in Devo.
Awards organiser Bob Farrand, national director of the Guild of Fine Foods, said: “Often the best food is all about doing the simple things really well, and you can’t find a better example than McCartney’s corned beef. Our judges were blown away by it.”
A world away from cheap ‘bully beef’ sold in cans, McCartney’s version is made for slicing on deli counters and is on sale in Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.