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Guy Warner: The Cotswolds’ Got Talent!

PUBLISHED: 11:21 17 August 2015 | UPDATED: 15:48 17 August 2015

Cotswold Distilling Company

Cotswold Distilling Company

Tom Elms Photography

Readers of Cotswold Life will know it also has its own annual talent show, one that’s been running for longer than the X Factor...

Cheese of the Year sponsored by Paxton & Whitfield - Cerney Ash by Cerney Cheese, North CerneyCheese of the Year sponsored by Paxton & Whitfield - Cerney Ash by Cerney Cheese, North Cerney

Now I’m not one to judge but it does seem that you can’t flick the TV on these days without being faced with some talent show or another – be it singing, baking, dancing and even hairdressing, there’s a row of judges all waiting to deliberate, cogitate and digest what’s been served up before them. Apparently, our appetite for these talent shows is insatiable which is why they’ve been multiplying faster than a rabbit in springtime. While I may not join my kids in their Saturday night devotion to Lord Cowell et al, despite my ever so male assertions to the contrary, I can see why such shows are popular. Once you’ve sifted through the chaff, you can be left with some pretty good stuff, and everyone, as we know, ultimately likes a winner.

Readers of Cotswold Life will know it also has its own annual talent show, one that’s been running for longer than the X Factor, with arguably a great deal more talent than Britain’s Got has ever shown – yes, I’m talking about the Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards. Now in its 13th year, the Food & Drink Awards celebrate true winners in every sense of the word. Every year, these awards highlight the phenomenal standard of food and drink that we have on our own doorstep. They vindicate the hard work, dedication and devotion that Cotswold producers have tirelessly given to creating and perfecting their product and remind us of how fortunate we are to live in an area with such a vibrant food scene.

As a sponsor of the awards, I have been on the judging panel in the past (though my contribution was probably more Louis Walsh than Simon Cowell) and I tell you, it’s a daunting task. I like to think I know a bit about food but the standard of what these local producers are creating is now way past my comfort zone. Here in the Cotswolds, we’ve got big cheeses that win awards on the international stage and Michelin-starred chefs who are world-renowned.

However, unlike the X Factor wannabees, these finalists aren’t looking to win us over – it’s they who won us over in the first place. Every single producer that made the Food & Drink Awards list was nominated by us, Joe Public, and in my mind that gives each and every one of them huge credibility. So, if I’m looking to try some new cheese, I’m going to go straight for the Cheese of the Year winner, Cerney Ash, and for my next G&T I’m going to try the locally-produced Cotswolds Dry Gin thank you very much! In fact, so tried and tested are these finalists and winners that I’m going to make it my mission to wade through the finalists list over the next few months – a bit like an Egon Ronay guide to Cotswolds’ Got Talent if you like.

Drinks Product of the Year sponsored by Farrow & Ball - Cotswolds Dry Gin, Cotswolds Distillery, StourtonDrinks Product of the Year sponsored by Farrow & Ball - Cotswolds Dry Gin, Cotswolds Distillery, Stourton

Why don’t you join me on my Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards Live Tour and unearth some of these fabulous local products too? I’m sure by Christmas, you’ll have a new number one on your hands, but, I’m afraid, you’ll have to judge that for yourself!

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Top scorers

• Guy’s winner: Best Pub Restaurant winner, The Horse and Groom in Bourton-on-the-Hill

• One to watch: Food Product of the Year finalist, Blaisden Red Plum Jam by The Artisan Kitchen

• The next number one: Cheese of the Year finalist, Double Gloucester by Jonathan Crump’s Cheese

• Where to buy:

Cerney Ash – Warner’s Budgens Bidford on Avon, Moreton-in-Marsh, a variety of farm shops and delis across the Cotswolds

Cotswolds Dry Gin – Sheldon’s Wine Cellars, Shipston on Stour, online at www.cotswoldsdistillery.com

Blaisden Red Plum Jam, The Artisan Kitchen – Gloucester Services, a variety of farm shops and delis across the Cotswolds and online at http://www.theartisankitchen.co.uk

Jonathan Crump’s Double Gloucester – Cheeseworks in Cheltenham, online at www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk

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