I think we can all agree that 2020 has been the strangest of years for all of us. Our own plans, as a fledgling organisation, for a year filled with projects, live events, courses, various national tours and workshops all found themselves initially put on hold and then, like so much else this year, eventually postponed entirely, in the face of an unprecedented situation.
Seeing the problems faced by everyone, especially those in the hospitality and food sector, really left us feeling helpless to do anything other than try and find ways to offer our support and promote the sudden surge in online offerings as charcuterie makers adapted to the crisis and web shops & home deliveries suddenly became the best way forward. It has been great to see this positive approach to adversity be taken by such a resilient group of independent makers and perhaps a silver lining has been the way in which it has allowed the public and consumers to engage directly with their favourite producers, in a way that perhaps they hadn’t been able to before.
Seeing so many events cancelled, award schemes fall by the wayside and even the collapse of Cannon & Cannon, whose own awards we had initially agreed to impartially judge, we decided something needed to be done for those who had entered national competitions and who had been left with nothing to show for it.
It is at that point that we came up with the idea of the ‘Summer of Charcuterie’ review, where we were thrilled to bring together a great group of food enthusiasts, chefs, writers & food industry professionals to help us take a snapshot of where British charcuterie was in Summer 2020. As a result, we undertook a summer long, socially distanced tasting extravaganza and in depth review of over 150 products from some 30 producers, representing everyone from newcomers to the scene, to well established experts and everything in-between.
The event would not have been possible without our wonderful sponsors Angel Refrigeration & our event partner Peacock Salt, who, as soon as we pitched the idea, stepped up to support the costs of putting it on, helping us make the logistics possible and the event a reality. The tastings were carried out in groups every 2 weeks, with samples sent in by our producers and then dispatched to all of our panelists along with our feedback forms to capture their thoughts and views.
So popular has the event been that we now have a huge volume of really helpful and constructive comment on each of the products tasted which is currently being complied into what will be the largest detailed review of British charcuterie to date! This will provide fantastic feedback for both producers as well as an essential guide for consumers and we will be publishing it shortly.
Whilst this is, most definitely, not an award scheme and there is no 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize etc. we did ask our panelists to rank the samples they were tasting in order of preference, to highlight particular favourites and set out why they were considered to be particularly special. These rankings will inform the results we publish, but also, the top 12 of these favourites from across our 3 categories (whole muscle, salami and snack products) are being presented as our reviewers’ ideal Charcuterie Board 2020, providing a wonderful variety of favours, textures and styles, drawing the very best together in one collection.
We will be announcing the results of our review on Monday the 26th October where, as well as the headline results, we will also draw from the review specific products and specific producers who really left their mark with our panelists and we will be sharing our reviewers thoughts on why they felt these products and their makers stood out.
Stay tuned all week as we build up to the unveiling of the best of British charcuterie, with some interesting teasers and some fascinating highlights of what will have been the most comprehensive review of cured meat products ever undertaken!