For the first time, Squidbeak were asked to judge the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards (REYTA) this year and the winners were announced last night.
I judged the Remarkable Fayre award, which I claim was the most difficult category of all. How on earth can you compare a brewery with a smoke house, a cookery school with a farm shop?
I apologized in advance to all the shortlistees because they all should have won. Here they are, see for yourself: Wold Top Brewery; Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School; Williams Farm Kitchen; The Star @ Sancton; Drewton’s Farm Shop; Staal Smokehouse.
I’ll be writing about these in weeks to come, because they are all fabulous, but – forced to choose a winner – I eventually went for Staal Smokehouse.
Justin Staal set up his smokehouse in November 2011 in a couple of portakabins in a muddy farmyard among the flatlands of Rudston, 6 miles west of Bridlington. However the quality of Justin Staal’s smoked fish, chicken and duck was superb. More than that to set up a brand new business in the depths of the worst recession for a decade in an already crowded market is just ridiculous. Yet Justin Staal has done it. Not only does he have a fabulous range of smoked products, he has dealt professionally with the marketing, branding packaging and the rest and then he’s gone out and sold it. He’s shivered his socks off at the farmers’ markets and food festivals and has successfully persuaded top chefs to take his products. For all that I reckon he’s a worthy winner, but I’m sorry everyone else, you were worthy winners too, but I had to choose, and I did enjoy my visits.