An Invitation To Great Taste Judging In Wales

12 May

A few weeks ago I received an invitation from the Guild Of Fine Food to judge at the Great Taste in Cardiff. The Great Taste Awards are respected world-wide and it is an award that Ian and I always recommend our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers to enter. I’ve always liked their star system. Basically because it was easy to understand and unlike Wales’ True Taste Awards, there isn’t just a first second and third in each category. I’ve never understood how this could be judged. GTA award one, two and three stars to any products that match their high standards. So for example, you could have just two, one star winners – ‘close to perfect’, five, two star winners – ‘faultless’ and seven three star winners – ‘wow you must taste this product’. Anyway I’m getting distracted, but that background is important, so back to my invitation which was to be a judge at these highly regarded top food awards. But I was puzzled asking – why me? But that’s putting it politely as to why on earth I would qualify to be part of the Welsh judging team and judge alongside some dedicated food experts. I never have, and never will, considered myself to be a food expert because quite simply I’m not. I’d always assumed, wrongly now it seems, that the GTA judges would be Michelin chefs and top food hall buyers. So I emailed asking for clarification and was told:

The Guild of Fine Food works really hard to build its judging panel full of chefs, food buyers, restaurateurs, food writers and critics, all of whom bring their own experience, knowledge and palate to provide constructive feedback for the producers. Everyone’s opinion counts around the judging table and judging teams are purposely grouped based on their diverse knowledge and experience, which is why producers value the feedback and shows what a rigorous process it is to awarding those Great Taste stars.

After promoting GTA for so many yeas, I now feel a little disillusioned that the judges aren’t all those with professional palates. So I’ve declined their kind invitation and just hope I’ve made the right decision. Actually, as a foodie journalist I’d think I’d have a much better time and learn much, much more if I could attend the judging but as a fly on the wall. But as it is food being judged, I guess I’d get quickly swatted!!!!!

Great Taste have accepted my decision, but hope Igll do it next year just not sure how anything will change from my side by next year. Anyway GTA have said they’ll send me their winners through, I guess with the hope that I’ll cover it for them. But as regular readers will know, if GTA are not advertising and supporting us, then that will not happen. I’ve still not a VAT number not a charity number!
So good luck to all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, showing off the best of Welsh food and drink,  who are entering and don’t forget to let me know your experience and how you got on…………….


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  1. Ted

    May 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Disagree with you Kath, think you should have done it, but you lose a day from work and your travelling costs.
    I assume wag food recommended you for this role?

  2. Parrot

    May 13, 2015 at 9:44 am

    I’m not sure if anyone did recommend me. GTA said no-one but as I was a ‘food writer’ they thought I’d like to do it……
    Wag food recommend me, I like your sense of humour.
    I’d lose a day off work and it would be my cost, plus a 4 hour round trip to Cardiff.

  3. Foodie 3

    May 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Hi Kath
    I’d love you to be judging and you made me laugh with wanting to be a fly on the wall! I’d love you to do that too and tell us what really happened during judging.

  4. Zed

    May 15, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I have always thought judges were top chef people and top food buyers, so this was a surprise that you were asked Kath, but you’d get my vote.
    I bet wag food put your name forward as one of their top food consultants and ambassadors and as it’s in Cardiff, GTA obeyed their paymasters. If you had this role from wag food we wouldn’t be so cheesed off with this dept that should care for us but instead cares only about their only poxy jobs.
    I wish though you could go as a fly on the wall and tell us what happens.
    You do so often make me smile with your grumbles and news.

  5. producer

    May 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    You should have said yes.

  6. Parrot

    May 15, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Perhaps you’d like to pay me for a day away from proper work………………………

  7. Top Producer

    May 18, 2015 at 11:19 am

    I think you should have done it too.
    My team said you were at Smallholder yesterday and sorry to miss you as I was only there Saturday making sure everything was ok.
    What an error in my view to put this in the new Food Hall Barn this year. It worked much better in the old hall with Steve and it wasn’t his fault wag food pulled their funding and his cahrtges went up. Why RWAS change halls and then don’t set it up properly beats me every time.
    The set up in the food hall was tacky and I think unprofessional, but I’m only trying to earn a living like other producers.
    Seems you didn’t have to be a Welsh producer to get in this year either or run a professional stand.
    I would say not impressed, but that’s a serious understatement.
    Food Hall is now not even trying to be a showcase for Welsh food and drink, which in some ways is fine, because I thought it a shambles. Producers didn’t ask to move into the new hall and I don’t need to be told RWAS then have to fill the new hall and will take ANYONE otherwise we pay more.
    That’s not fair RWAS made us move we liked where were.
    Total mess on Friday with hot food being set inside the food hall with their cooking equipment so they had to go outside and stands inside re-worked, great. I don’t think to have greek hot food in the entrance is promoting Wales but RWAS are not bothered.
    Few places for people to sit down and eat inside either. How do people know they can get hot food inside now? It was badly laid out, looked scruffy and nothing like as profitable as the old hall under Steve.
    But what does it matter if producers didn’t make money, sure RWAS did.
    Sorry to miss you, I’ll ring you later for a moan!

  8. Parrot

    May 18, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I had enough moaning yesterday thanks
    I agree with what you are saying though, but the worry is no-one in charge is likley to listen.

  9. Foodie

    May 18, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I’m sure the person that asked you to judge gets paid each month and on that basis I hink you were right to say no
    must say I thought it was food hall buyers and chefs that judged this one
    but it is far more professional than true taste ever was.

  10. BBB

    May 18, 2015 at 3:47 pm


    As someone who sets up judging panels, we draw from professionals, those who are producers (but not being judged!), and journalists – the idea being to create a cross section of opinions so as to get the fairest result. It’s often the non-professional palate that can provide useful insight – I’d be certain that you know what you like, and what you don’t!

    If the opportunity arises again, take it – not only will it be a lot of fun, but you’ll also get to meet a lot of people, and try a lot of (hopefully!) really good food. It’ll also give you a perspective on what is being produced, and what the chefs and professionals are thinking at that time.

    And it’ll be work!

  11. Foodie 2

    May 21, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Just want to add my comment.
    I think you should have done it, but it’s ok for those with the luxury of a guaranteed monthly salary to say drive over to Cardiif for the day in your own time at your own cost! Don’t really think that counts as a day off for you.
    Mind you, I’d much prefer you to be a fly on the wall and report back to us!

  12. Sue

    May 22, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Guess the person that asked you to judge gets paid each month? They are not self-employed?
    Big difference when you are have to actually earn your pay packet each month with no guarantee what money then will come in.
    But come to Cardiff for the day at your costs and it’s a honour to be invited, I don’t think.