2022 saw the finalisation of the assessments and awarding of the worlds first TCB Silver Stars to producers as the ultimate marque of quality assurance of the recipients whole approach. For the first time, this award looks at, not just an individual prodiuct, but the whole operation, evaluating everything from ingredients, to marketing, to the imagination and ethos driving the business.
If asked ‘what is the basis of the Silver Star assesment?’ we could perhaps sum up the criteria in two words: quality and excellence.
First and foremost, quality of the products themselves, consistent quality. Second, and closely linked to the first, quality of ingredients, principally the quality of the meat – the time and care that has gone into its breeding, feeding, rearing, and slaughter, but also all of the other elements and, crucially how well the are used in the mix. Finally, quality of the business: how do they present themselves and their products? how do they demonstarte their own imagination within their produce, how do they participate in the market?
Excellence also recognizes innovation. In addition to, perhaps more familiar, traditional products, are they coming up with new products or new techniques that further the craft?
Initially producers are subject to some in depth research within the market place, a wide range of products are bought from a variety of sources, often by our ‘secret shoppers’. Stockists are asked questions about the products they sell, on line presence and profiles, packaging and marketing are all assessed as well as the products themslves. Where producers are felt by the panel to warrant next steps then direct discussions, interview and further consideration of the results are undertaken, with the ultimate aim of being able to potentially award a Silver Star.
The first assesments were started through public member recommendations and now the field of producer members being assesed and considered is widening. Whilst the assesments are all done in confidence, by our group of panelists, we want to set out the basic criteria within which the producers work is considered.
The Main Criteria:
1. Quality of the ingredients used.
Source and nature of the livestock & meats used.
Source, nature and quality of other ingredients.
Evidence of policies and frameworks in place to ensure quality controls & consistency of the above.
Treatment of all ingredients within business.
2. Mastery of flavours used and manufacturing techniques.
Blending and use of flavours to include, seasonings, spices, aromats & other elements within formulas.
Methods & processes used in preparation, fabrication, curing, fermentation, drying, ageing and/or cooking as relevant.
Outcomes within the final products.
3. The personality of the makers within their produce.
Recognition of creative flair, care and craft.
Company innovation, approach & engagement with end users, culinary world & sector.
4. Value for money.
Judgement of balance between quality and cost in the light of criteria 1-3.
Judgement of product within multiple separate batches, all sourced separately either by location, time or both.
The process continues!….