The team at Blas na hÉireann have been working tirelessly since March to ensure that Blas 2020 goes ahead, maintaining their commitment to celebrating the very best in Irish food and drink. Chairperson Artie Clifford feels that now, more than ever, it is essential to shine a spotlight on the talented producers around the island.
Faced with the restrictions around college campuses and under the watchful eye of the academic director Professor Joe Kerry of UCC, the Blas judging relocated to Dingle in July, ensuring the judging was handled with the same care and attention as always.
The finalists shortlisted from Galway, across a range of different categories, are Builin Blasta Teo, Coffee Domain, Galmere Fresh Foods, Leahy Beekeeping, Loughnane's of Galway, Sean Loughnane's, The Foods of Athenry, and The Lodge Barna Mustards.
After the first round of judging, the top scoring products from a number of categories went through a second round of tasting, both in Dingle and at satellite venues across the country. In conjunction with UCC these results were studied and the findings showed that the results based on two entirely separate panels returned the exact same rankings.
These results will be used to determine the winners of Blas na hÉireann 2020, as the difficult decision has been made to cancel the weekend of events in Dingle in October. The annual gathering is an important part of the Blas experience and the team are working hard to move as many events to a virtual format as is possible.
Due to the success of the digital Backyard in April, and the fact that the Backyard has become a very important aspect of the Blas weekend, there will be a series of Backyard panels online this year. Organisers are planning an exciting and informative programme that reflects the times we are living in and the specific challenges producers and buyers are currently facing.
The awards will be announced over the course of the day on October 3 on the Blas website and across social media channels, and while the team will miss gathering collectively to cheer on colleagues and friends, they will make up for it by ensuring that #Blas2020 trends on the day.