It's that time of year again. Blas na hÉireann, sometimes referred to as the Oscars of Irish food, is accepting entries for this year's awards from Wednesday 17 March (St Patrick’s Day).
The awards are now in their 14th year and celebrate the very best of food and drink on the island of Ireland. They're known for their rigorous judging process and use a blind-tasting judging system developed by Blas with the Food Science Dept of University College Cork and the University of Copenhagen.
Last year, despite the upheaval of Covid 19, winners were announced during a virtual celebration in October and this year the awards look to be more important than ever, with a renewed focus on supporting independent producers and Irish food and drink. A win can be a significant boost to a brand or producer - following its Best New Product win in 2020, Kerry Kefir saw its sales increase by 50% and is now stocked in six SuperValu stores and six independent retailers.
Speaking about the difficulties the industry has experienced throughout 2020 and into 2021, Blas na hÉireann Chairman Artie Clifford said, “With businesses pushed to the brink, the closure of the hospitality sector left many producers without some of their key accounts. However, with many producers pivoting their business quickly and the general public getting far more interested in the quality of the food in their basket and on their plate, there were deep ties made between communities and their local producers. Our goal is to build on this and ensure that when restaurants reopen, the ties made between the public and these products remains.”
You can enter Blas na hÉireann 2021 from this Wednesday, 17 March with an early bird fee of €65 (ex VAT) until 7 April. Judging takes place during June and July, with finalists notified in August, and the final judging takes place in October 2021. For more information go to irishfoodawards.com.