If you don’t already know Rufus Carter, then you can expect to hear a lot more about him - and the issues concerning Welsh food and drink producers - in the coming year. That’s because Carter, who is MD of highly respected speciality food producer The Patchwork Traditional Food Company, picked up the top accolade in the Welsh Development Agency’s True Taste Awards. And as the newly appointed Ambassador of the Year, he will be banging the drum for Welsh food and drink products for the next 12 months.
The winners of this year’s True Taste Awards were revealed at a special ceremony at the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel in Newport.
In all, there were 33 winners in 13 categories in the awards, which were launched three years ago as a way of celebrating the best that Wales has to offer in the way of food and drink.
On the right, we feature the eight producers who have scooped gold prizes in the awards and the deli that came out with gold in the category for True Taste retailer.
The awards were this year sponsored by Asda, ITV Wales, The Grocer, and Meat Promotion Wales, with supporters the Farmers’ Union of Wales and Spar wholesaler Capper & Co.
WDA chairman Roger Jones says all the winners should be congratulated: “We are very proud of their achievements and of the invaluable contribution they are making to the Welsh food and drink industry.
”The award winners will now benefit from a national marketing campaign and will be able to display True Taste Awards branding on their products and literature, providing an instant standard of recognition and quality for the consumer.”
But it was Patchwork and its passionate boss Rufus Carter who stole the show.
The company was founded by his mother Margaret 15 years ago and has grown into a £2m business operating out a 10,000 sq ft purpose built factory in Ruthin. The company has won countless awards for its pates, terrines, savouries and desserts.
Carter did not originally want to join the family firm, but says he now loves every minute of his job.
As MD, I do just about everything, making sure all the plates are spinning.”
Picking up his award, Carter said he would be trying to highlight the flourishing food culture in Wales - and its strong emphasis on quality. He says that producers in Wales should be focusing on that “trump card” - rather than trying to compete with cheaper mass-produced commodities such as beef from South America or lamb from New Zealand.
He says: “You don’t see Rolls-Royce looking at the sales of Skodas; it wants to know how the Aston Martins are doing.”
True Taste Producer
Gorwydd Caerphilly cheese
This traditional, hand-made Welsh Caerphilly, which is produced from unpasteurised milk and matured for two months, won the award for best added-value farm product.
The judges praised its delightfully full fresh flavour and firm creamy texture that ensured it stood out from the crowd and won gold. Silver went to Neuadd Fach Baconry, while bronze awards went to C&G Morgan & Son and The Fruit Garden.
True Taste Manufacturer (small)
The Fresh Pasta Company
Butternut squash and sage tortelli
The first of two gold winners in the hotly contested category for small processors and speciality food producers.
The Fresh Pasta Company’s tortelli, which is filled with butternut squash and sage, is made from the finest grade flour and free- range eggs.
The pasta range can be made in a variety of colours, shapes and fillings with no added salt, oil or artificial additives.
Cadog range of products
True Taste Manufacturer (large)
Dairy Farmers of Britain
Cadog range of products
The judges were impressed by the Cadog range of products with a Welsh flavour.
It includes a luxury Welsh rice pudding made with 12% cream; Cadog Welsh butter, made to a unique recipe at the Llangadog Creamery; and Cadog vintage Welsh Cheddar, which is made to a traditional recipe and matured for 18 months.
The Burger Manufacturing Co took Silver, while Sunjuice was awarded bronze.
True Taste Organic
Organic stoneground flour
Artisan millers Matt and Anne Scott scooped the organic award for the second year running. The judges were impressed by the time and attention given to make this flour, which they felt was a superior product retaining all the natural goodness of the wheatgerm.
Silver awards went to Gellirhyd Farm Organic and Cambrian Organics. Rachel's Organic Dairy won bronze.
True Taste Manufacturer (small)
RK Palfrey of Newport
Welsh salt marsh lamb selection
The second gold award went to traditional high street butcher RK Palfrey, which really caught the judges’ attention with its range of salt marsh lamb products including minted lamb chops and Moroccan-style kebabs.
The silver award winners in this category were Miranda’s Preserves and Cegin Suzanne. Bronze awards went to Black Mountains Smokery and William Lloyd Williams & Son.
True Taste Own Label
Rachel’s Organic Dairy
Sainsbury’s wholemilk natural yogurt.
Rachel’s Dairy romped home in the category for products made under contract for other manufacturers or retailers.
Having picked up a bronze award in the organic category, the judges gave Rachel’s the top prize in own label with its delicious, wholemilk natural organic yogurt, which it produces exclusively for Sainsbury.
No other prizes were awarded in the own label category.
True Taste Partnership
The Welsh Whisky Company
Penderyn single malt Welsh whisky
The partnership between The Welsh Whisky Company and Brains Brewery - which uses wash, a brewing by-product, to make its whisky - ensured it won the award for collaborative production or marketing initiatives. Penderyn is non-chill filtered, Madeira-finished, light in character, smooth and, as the judges can testify, easy to drink!
The Welsh Meat Company won silver while Gemelli Desserts picked up bronze.
True Taste Manufacturer (medium)
Honest to Goodness
Part of the Heartsease range of soft drinks, Honest to Goodness has been blended for the optimum balance of flavour and refreshment. Using entirely natural resources of sparkling spring water and pure fruit juices, the result is a contemporary and refreshing drink.
The silver in this category was won by The Patchwork Traditional Food Company while The Hurns Brewing Company took bronze.
True Taste Retailer
Thyme Out Delicatessen
Deli store in Dinas Powys
This category was open to all independent retailers, specialists, farmers’ markets, box schemes and online stores.
Gold winner Thyme Out sells a selection of speciality Welsh and local produce, and is big on organic.
The silver award was won by Edwards of Conwy. There were two bronze awards: Llwnhelyg Farm Shop and the Riverside Community Market in Cardiff.