SOUTH KERRY brought home the gold at the Blas na hÉireann National Irish Food Awards which were announced at Benner's Hotel during the Dingle Peninsula Food and Wine Festival last Saturday as The Smuggler's Inn, Waterville, in operation for 32 years, won first prize for their liver pate in the terrines and pate category.
Kenmare chocolatier Benoit Lorge also managed to scoop bronze in the chocolate bar category.
Mid-Kerry made an impact as Sásta Sausages, Killorglin were awarded gold in the Best Emerging Kerry Producer category, sponsored by the Kerry County Enterprise Board, while also taking bronze and silver in the Black Pudding category.
Larkin's Bakery in Milltown made their mark with a gold and silver in the Soda Bread category and silver for their barmbrack.
Meanwhile West Kerry's own Jerry Kennedy was delighted with his bronze in the lamb category for his Dingle Peninsula Rack of Lamb. "In this competition you are up against the country's best and by winning an overall bronze in the lamb category, it proves that we are able to compete with the big boys," he told The Kerryman.
Also included among Kerry's host of winners was Sam Harrison of Keel's Cloudberry Bakery who staved off some tough competition to take gold in the biscuit category for her Luxury Guinness Brownie.
Úna Martin from Cork walked away with the top prize at this year's Blas awards; after scooping all three awards in the pies category she was awarded the title of Supreme Champion, sponsored by Bórd Bia.
"The Blas na hÉireann National Irish Food Awards is the biggest competition of quality Irish produce on the Island of Ireland," Blas na hÉireann Chairperson Artie Clifford explained.
"The judges sought out products that are made using top quality Irish ingredients and we had the biggest number of entries to date this year, over 2,000, a massive increase from the 400 we received back when we started in 2007."
"It is very rewarding for us that the competition, now in its fifth year, is recognised at home and abroad as a symbol of a top quality product, enabling businesses to take on all new markets, be they local, regional, national or international," Artie added.
According to research undertaken earlier this year, 54 per cent of Irish shoppers surveyed now recognise the Blas logo, as a quality symbol on products, and are more inclined to buy them. Blas recipients have also reported a sharp increase in sales from the time that the winners are announced.