Blas na hÉireann announces 2021 Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Product

Fiona and Malcolm Falconer of Wild About who have been announced Supreme Champion at this year’s Blas na hÉireann for their So Sloe Jelly pictured here at their home

Wild About crowned Supreme Champion for their So Sloe Jelly, while Temptation Pâtisserie awarded Best Artisan Product for their Sea Salt Caramel Bar

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12 October 2021 | 0

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Blas na hÉireann, the Irish food awards, is delighted to announce this year’s winners of the 2021 awards, with Wild About crowned Supreme Champion for their So Sloe Jelly, and Temptation Pâtisserie awarded Best Artisan Product for their Sea Salt Caramel Bar.

Wild About is a multi award-winning Irish artisan producer and local food hero. Working from a small sustainable permaculture farm in Co. Wexford, they grow and forage a range of produce to create deliciously low carbon, low sugar, sustainable handmade artisan dressings, syrups, chutneys and snacks directly from seasonal harvests.

The Falconer family created Wild About products through a huge lifestyle change — they swapped living in London and careers in product design and documentary film-making for the good life in the Wexford countryside. Fiona was originally from Dublin and Malcolm grew up on a smallholding in South Wales, and now with their family they specialise in handcrafting seasonal products using native wild ingredients, Ireland’s own superfoods.

Home to Ireland’s first commercial nettle farm, along with a traditional vegetable garden and polytunnel, Wild About’s products are also based on foraged wild foods like sloes, haws, rosehips, crab apples, wild pears, quince and an array of other exceptional seasonal ingredients. Their Blas na hÉireann 2021 Supreme Champion win is for their So Sloe Jelly, where wild sloe berries from the native Blackthorn are made into a gorgeous seasonal fruit jelly conserve with a hint of star anise, perfect with duck, game and venison and delicious with soft cheese or even just on hot buttered toast.

Best Artisan Product 2021

The Blas na hÉireann Best Artisan Product 2021 award went to the young Durrow, Co. Laois sisters behind Temptation Pâtisserie, Kate and Ruth O’Hara for their Sea Salt Caramel Bar. Self-taught chocolatier twin sisters, Kate and Ruth set up their fledgling business earlier this year, producing luxury artisan chocolates and pâtisserie made with premium quality and ethically sourced ingredients in small batches in Mountmellick.

The duo are accounting and finance graduates who worked in Dublin for the last couple of years and decided to take the leap to start their business, currently based in the MDA Kitchen in Mountmellick, specialising in hand-painted chocolates, bars and bonbons which they call ‘our little pieces of edible art’. Growing up with a love of French pâtisseries and chocolateries from family holidays to France, they are self-taught chocolatiers and learned everything they know through courses and videos online.

Temptation Pâtisserie won the Best Artisan Product 2021 for their Sea Salt Caramel Bar, a creamy 40% milk chocolate bar shell filled with a homemade salted caramel, made using West of Dingle sea salt, hand-harvested on the Dingle Peninsula. The bar is splashed with white and blue cocoa butter, illustrating the breaking waves of the sea. Temptation Pâtisserie were also winners of this year’s Blas na hÉireann Best Start Up award.

Winners’ responses

“We are absolutely dumbfounded to be awarded Supreme Champion at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards,” said Fiona Falconer of Wild About. “We are a tiny family run company that believes passionately in the benefits of simple, sustainable plant-based foods. We grow ingredients for our products, ethically and sustainably on our biodiversity farm here in Co.Wexford.  We work seasonally so the range changes with the harvests and we specialise in native wild ingredients. Malc makes everything by hand in small batches – pure artisan.  But it’s just the two of us, we are tiny.

“The Blas na hEireann award is really special, because it’s a simple Gold, Silver, Bronze . . . the BEST on the island of Ireland and the customer knows, quality is assured,” she added. “To be awarded Supreme Champion of the island of Ireland will have a great impact on our business. We stand with the hundreds of tiny food producers all over the country, doing farmers markets, stocking local shops, creating a real movement, driving quality, sustainability and innovation in Irish food. We spent years doing the Greys Lane Market at the Dingle Food Festival, watching our stall-less friends skip by with blue boxes (Blas crystal trophy), then we picked up one, then another, now we have 6 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze, Best in Wexford, Best in Leinster and now Supreme Champion! Go Small producers! For a tiny company like ours, this means the world.”

“Winning Blas na hÉireann Best Artisan Product 2021 is beyond our wildest dreams,” said Kate and Ruth of Temptations Pâtisserie, “as we were delighted to even be shortlisted. We are currently trading weekly at a number of farmers markets and selling online through our website, so it would be lovely to think that this win will help move us a little further in the direction of opening a premises of our own, which we would love! We are so pleased and proud that our young business has been recognised by these prestigious awards.”

Record entry level despite challenging times

Chairperson of Blas na hÉireann Artie Clifford feels that now, more than ever, it is essential to shine a light and give that all important boost to the talented producers dotted around the island.

“These are the 14th annual Blas na hÉireann awards,” said Clifford, “and despite the very challenging circumstances of the last 18 months, 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.”

The Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Product awards are proudly sponsored by Bord Bia.

 

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