A retired micro-biologist from Brighton and an artisan preserves maker from a rural corner of the Czech Republic have been crowned the world’s best marmalade makers at this weekend’s World’s Original Marmalade Awards & Festival.
Dr Yen-Chung Chong won Best in Show with his ‘Bloody Merry Marmalade’, a heady mixture of blood orange and vodka, to be named ‘The World’s Best Amateur Marmalade Maker’. Incredibly Dr Chong won the title four years ago, making him the only person to have won the gong twice. His homemade recipe will now be made commercially and sold by Fortnum & Mason, with 50p from each jar sold going to charity.
Blanka Milfaitova won the sweet honour of ‘The World’s Best Artisan Marmalade Maker’ with her mouth-watering lemon marmalade, concocted in her kitchen in the southern border mountains of the Czech Republic, a country usually more famous for its dumplings and beer. Blanka’s jars will also now be sold at Fortnum & Mason – a world away from the handful of shops and farmers’ markets that currently sell them in her native country.
Over 1,900 jars, from all over the world, were sent into the Awards, held at Dalemain Mansion near Penrith in Cumbria. The marmalades are tasted ‘blind’ by a distinguished panel of preserves experts.
Malaysian-born homemade winner Dr Chong and artisan maker Blanka have both mastered the art of expert marmalade making – an art that goes back more than 400 hundred years – which is evidence of marmalade’s growing popularity outside the UK.
Awards organiser Jane Hasell-McCosh said: “When I started this event eight years ago, I wanted to prove that marmalade was still as popular as ever. Since then the resounding message from our entrants is that it’s not only a vital preserve of the British breakfast table but also one that reaches far beyond our shores, which is fantastic news. We’ve had entries from as far afield as Japan, Australia and the Philippines, as well as from all over the UK.”
Other marmalade makers to receive a prestigious sticky gong at the Festival were:
- A Colonel from Andover who scooped the Tri-Services Marmalade prize
- A man from Kyoto in Japan who won the International Marmalade award, beating preserves makers from 16 other countries
- First time marmalade cook Jane Boylan from Penrith who scooped the Novice category
- Youngsters Matthew Foster from Northamptonshire and William Preston from West Yorkshire who jointly won the Children’s Marmalade prize.
- For the first time the Awards also boasted a Best Marmalade Cake competition which was won by Love Jam Kitchen.
Amateur marmalade winner Dr Chong, who got his first taste of marmalade as a child in Malaysia, said the secret of his success was “cooking the juice for the shortest time possible. I also use as little sugar as I can”. Despite being a scientist by profession, he added: “I do think marmalade making has more to do with alchemy than chemistry.”
Artisan winner Blanka, who runs her small preserves company Nase Dobroty, said: “I believe that this award is an answer to my business philosophy and desire to produce, 100% by hand, the best quality product and put into a glass, not only the fruit but also the passion and joy of life.”
Jonathan Miller, Food Buyer at Fortnum & Mason, who has been a judge at the awards for the last four years, said the standard of marmalade entries continued to be extremely high. “The winning marmalades stood out as they had good acidity, were fully fruited, low sugar and great zest. Like a good wine, marmalade needs to have good fruit and full body.”
Judging for the amateur categories was undertaken by members of the local WI. The artisan judging was carried out by a panel including food historian Ivan Day, preserve expert Pam Corbin, Jonathan Miller, baker and food writer Dan Lepard and Tim Came from Thursday Cottage.
The Festival itself boasted appearances from Paddington Bear, marmalade-making demonstrations and workshops, as well as a Marmalade Church service and even a Marmalade concert. And it all took place in the prestigious surrounds of Dalemain, a beautiful Cumbrian mansion.
Further details of the festival and its winners can be found by visiting:www.marmaladeawards.co.uk. Proceeds from amateur entry fees will be donated to charity. The 2013 beneficiaries are Hospice at Home and Action Medical Research.
Emma Mason: 07762 117433 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Louise Barnett: 07713 742685 / email@example.com
Notes to editors:
The Marmalade Awards – What they all about? – These quirky awards were founded in 2006 by Jane Hasell-McCosh with the initial idea of preserving, growing and widening one of the most English of customs – making marmalade. They have gone on to generate a following far beyond Jane’s wildest expectations and allow many different varieties of marmalade to come together and allow the judges the great opportunity to taste them all!
The Awards are centred on Dalemain Mansion, a Georgian stately home lived in by the same family for over 300 years, which also happens to hold a very rich archive of Marmalade recipes. The Awards have humour and a life of their own and have inspired people from all over the world to get involved.
And the winners are…
Best in Show – Yen-Chung Chong
Manmade dark and chunky – Adrian Young, Canberra, Australia
Man Made Seville – Tom Maier, Compton, West Sussex
Children’s (sponsored by Paddington Bear) – Matthew Foster, Stanwick, Northamptonshire and William Preston, Silsden, West Yorkshire
Seville – Margaret Burke, Knutsford, Cheshire
Heritage (sponsored by Mackays) – Mary & Nicholas Hart, Morben, Surrey
International (sponsored by Mackays) – Tom Benford, Kyoto, Japan
Dark and Chunky – Elizabeth Maclay, Andover, Hampshire
Merry – Yen-Chung Chong, Brighton
Novice – Jane Boylan, Penrith, Cumbria
Any Citrus – Jonathan Hamel Cooke, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
Clergy – Rev James Milnes, Macclesfield
Tri-Services – Colonel Kieran O’Kelly, Andover, Hampshire
Artisan & Commercial Producers
Double Gold – Nase Dobroty
Gold – Nase Dobroty (Marmalade with Interesting Additions Bourbon and Vanilla), Hubble Preserves (Fine Seville Orange Marmalade), Bracken Hill Fine Foods (Savoury Marmalade Orange and Cider), Mary’s Marmalade (Medium Seville and Any Citrus Grapefruit), Radnor Preserves (Medium Seville, Any Citrus Blood Orange and Any Citrus Lime), Mrs Jampot’s Parlour (Savoury Marmalade Clove and Cinnamon), JR Jams (Any Citrus Marmalade Three Fruit), Jammy Bodger (Medium Seville), Jill’s Natural Preserves (Marmalade with Interesting Additions with Somerset Brandy), Love Jam Kitchen (Any Citrus Marmalade Pink Grapefruit), Wild & Fruitful (Savoury Marmalade Thai Lime), Beta 5 Chocolates (Any Citrus Marmalade Yuzu).