The great taste of success for Yellow Door at annual awards
The Yellow Door Deli has scooped two top epicurean gongs, securing a first in the history of the Great Taste Awards' annual celebration of the UK's finest foods.
Chef Simon Dougan was Northern Ireland's big winner, securing the blue ribbon in the awards' Farmhouse and Deli category with a distinctive Northern Ireland dish he created.
The accolade marks the second consecutive win for the Yellow Door Deli in the yearly distribution of awards by the UK Guild of Fine Food, with the Armagh company being the first in the UK and Ireland to score a major Great Taste Award in successive years.
The company was founded in 1992 by Mr Dougan with a fine dining restaurant in Gilford and has since branched out into other arms of the food industry, now employing close to 150 in full and part-time positions.
Dougan's creation – Strangford prawn and Comber potato soup – wowed the judges in London this week when another local winner, Hannan Meats of Moira, was also presented with the Golden Fork for the best Northern Ireland product for its sweet cured bacon ribs.
The Co Down butchery business, owned and managed by Peter Hannan, won the award for the second successive year and had an all-time record three meat products in the top five listed for the Supreme Champion Award.
Hannan Meats is the most successful food producer in the UK in terms of gold awards from the Guild of Fine Food, achieving 128 over the past four years.
Two other Ulster companies – Baronscourt Venison from Omagh and Belfast's Suki Teahouse – were also vying for titles, having reached the final stage.
More than 405 judges, including leading retail buyers, chefs and food writers, were involved in the seven-week judging process, involving 10,000 individual products from the UK and Republic of Ireland.
A week-long judging session also took place in Northern Ireland for the first time, with top food journalists including Xanthe Clay and Charles Campion sampling local produce during the heats held at the Stormont Hotel.
Simon Dougan, Yellow Door's managing director, said the award was "a marvellous endorsement" of the quality of both its culinary creations and of the locally sourced ingredients used in their execution.
"Our objective is to showcase the exceptional quality and provenance of Northern Ireland food to a discerning international audience," he said.
"What we are seeking to do is to create original Northern Irish dishes from the superb ingredients so readily available in this region," he said.
John Hood, Invest Northern Ireland's director of food, said that the company's success was a tremendous achievement.
"Gaining this important award for the second successive year is great for Yellow Door and for Northern Ireland food in general." he said.
"Yellow Door is the only company to win a major title in the finals of the UK's most prestigious food competition, often referred to as the 'Oscars' of the food industry in the UK and Ireland."
The Supreme Champion award was won by an English company, Snowflake Luxury Gelato's Raspberry Sorbetto.