Left: Eoin Tynan from St Mel's Brewing Company Longford with Birgitta Curtin of Blas na hÉireann. Right: Mr Crumb Director, Jason Coyle with Neven Maguire PICTURES: Don MacMonagle
The winners of this year’s Blas na hÉireann Irish food awards were announced in Dingle over the weekend, with St. Mel’s Brewing Company from County Longford winning bronze at the 2019 finals.
Now in their 12th year, the Blas na hÉireann awards are the all-island food awards that recognise the very best Irish food and drink products, and the passionate people behind them.
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.
Products entered are blind-tasted, meaning that all packaging and identifying features are removed from products before being presented for judging, creating a level playing field for products from both large and small producers.
Judges come from a range of food backgrounds from chefs to restaurateurs, academics, journalists, authors, food champions, caterers and enthusiastic home cooks.
The bronze winner from Longford in the Lager category was St. Mel’s Brewing Company.
There was also some success for Midlands company, Mr Crumb, which is best known for its breadcrumb and stuffings. They swept the board at Blas na hÉireann this year, winning a total of five awards including Best in Westmeath.
Among the winning products were their “Mr Crumb Red Pepper & Jalapeño Cornbread Stuffing” and their Great Taste 2019 winning “Mr Crumb Sage & Onion Handmade Stuffing”.
Their other products - "Monterey Jack & Chorizo Bruschetta" and "Goats Cheese & Red Onion Marmalade Bruschetta" scooped Silver & Bronze at the awards over the weekend.
Their ‘Dunnes Stores Simply Better Cranberry, Apricot & Clementine Stuffing’ also won again this year, with Dunnes Stores Simply Better Ambassador, Neven Maguire, on hand to celebrate the win alongside Mr Crumb Director, Jason Coyle.
Speaking after the awards Artie Clifford, Chairperson and founder of Blas na hÉireann said, “Blas na Éireann 2019 has been another exceptional year showcasing the talents and hard work of some of this country’s most innovative, forward-thinking and disciplined food entrepreneurs.
“This is our 12th year of the Blas na hÉireann awards, and our aim continues to be to assist Irish producers to tell their stories by marking them out as special and worth exploring.
“Winning a Blas award has been shown to work for our previous winners in bringing them to the attention of food-lovers both at home and abroad and we are looking forward to yet another exceptional year for our worthy winners of Blas na hÉireann 2019.”