Key dates and Schedule
Key dates and Schedule
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Honouring the traditions of local agricultural shows and produce markets around Australia, the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show celebrates heritage, quality, provenance and innovation.
Established in 1998, the Sydney Royal Coffee Competition is one of Australia’s leading coffee competitions. The competition is independent, authoritative and impartial. The Competition is held in February every year as part of the Summer Fine Food Show. Coffee can be Australian grown or imported, provided the beans are roasted in Australia. Classes include latte, espresso, decafinated and plunger coffee.
The flavour of the month at the 2018 Sydney Royal Beer, Wine & Cider Show was reduced-alcohol beer. With a 200 per cent increase in entries, this class awarded medals to more than half the brews received, so perhaps the days of ‘low alcohol = low taste’ are well and truly over. And why the increased entry numbers? The judges put it down to tax, taste and torsos.
Chocolate. A decadent sweet that can be devoured multiple ways. A sweet to be consumed whichever way you like; from the ever loved chocolate bar, that perfect chew you get from a piece of fudge or the mesmerising way you can pour it as a topping to finish off a dessert. While many of us may be experts of eating this glorious food, many of us don’t know the work behind creating it. When making chocolate, there are seven clear stages of taking the cocoa bean to a ready-made product. Harvest and Fermentation Chocolate production begins with the harvesting of the of coca. Cocoa comes from tropical evergreen Cocoa trees, such as Theobroma Cocoa. The harvesting of the cacao pod is done by hand to identify the mature pods. These pods are then carefully broken to release the cacao beans. There are then heaped in a pile on mats or banana leaves and covered, or put into a bin or box with a lid. The fermentation process occurs when the pulp surrounding the cacao bean is converted into alcohol by the yeasts present in the air and the heat generated by the pile or box. The cacao beans are mixed gently during this process to introduce oxygen into the pile or box, which turns the alcohol into lactic and acetic acid. Slits or holes in the box allow the resulting liquid with its alcohol content to slowly leak out of the pile of beans during the fermentation process, leaving just the beans. This process can take up to eight days. The fermentation process is crucial as it betters the flavour and reduces the roasting time. Drying and Storage Once fermentation is complete, the now called cocoa beans will have a higher moisture content. For these beans to be shipped around the world, they must be dried. Once the moisture percentage in the cocoa beans has reached 6 to 7 per cent, they are sorted and bagged. The bagged cocoa beans are then loaded on ships to be delivered to chocolate manufacturers. Manufacturing Once the beans have made their way to the machinery of a chocolate factory, they are ready to be refined into the smooth chocolate that we all love. The first grind of the beans is usually done in a milling or grinding machine such as a melangeur. The nibs are ground or crushed to liquefy the cocoa butter and produce what is now called chocolate liquor or chocolate liquid. Secondly, most chocolate manufacturers use a roll refiner or ball mill, which has two functions: to further reduce the particle size of the cocoa mass and to distribute the cocoa butter evenly throughout the mass, coating all the particles. This process creates heat that melts and distributes the cocoa butter. Different percentages of cocoa butter are removed or added to the chocolate liquor. Cocoa butter carries the flavour of the chocolate and produces a cooling effect on your tongue that you might notice when eating dark chocolate. Conching You know that melt in your mouth quality you get when you have a nice piece of chocolate? You can thank the process of conching for that! This process develops the flavour and releases some of the bitterness giving chocolate its smooth texture. A conch machine has rollers that continuously knead the chocolate over a period of hours and days depending on the desired flavour and texture of the chocolate. Tempering This is the fun step. This is where you see all your hard work form a final product to be enjoyed all over the world. The tempering and moulding of chocolate allows the cocoa liquor cool and harden into different shapes. Finally, the chocolate is wrapped and sent off. Voilà – you now have chocolate. Fancy yourself a bit of a chocolatier? Entries for the 2018 Callebaut Sydney Royal Chocolate Show are now open! Find out more here.
In wine there is wisdom… and the Sydney Royal Wine Show judges are here to help you wise up. Attracting over 2,300 entries, the Sydney Royal Wine Show is your go-to for wine knowledge. Open for 2018 entries, the 2017 results will point you in the right direction when it is time to pop the cork. Looking for a classic riesling? Our Judges awarded 98 points to John Hughes Wines Rieslingfreak No.3. After a pleasing sauvignon blanc? Our Judges would recommend the 96 points recipient Miles from Nowhere Sauvignon Blanc and Berrigan Wines Mount Benson Sauvignon Blanc with 95 points. Fancy a fresh citrus Semillon? Our Judges would suggest Tyrell’s Vineyards Vat 1 Semillon, 96 points and Tulloch Wines Julia Limited Release Semillon with 95 points. Australian chardonnay is an impressive class, 96 points awarded to Flametree Wines SRS Wallcliffe Chardonnay and Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove Pennon Hill Chardonnay. Rosé comes through with Koonara Wines Emily May Rosé Pinot Noir, 96 points whilst merlot represents with 96 points going to Amberley Wines 2016 Merlot. Gold medals were also awarded to W Salter & Son Pepperjack Sparkling Shiraz, Lindemans Wines Coonawarra Limestone Shiraz Cabernet, Evans 7 Tate Redbrook Cabernet Sauvignon, Moppity Vineyards Cato Tempranillo, Brown Brothers Tasmania Devil’s Corner Mt Amos Pinot Noir, Xanadu Wines DJL Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, and Peter Lehmann Wines Hill & Valley Pinot Gris amongst others. The Sydney Royal Wine Show results are online, www.rasnsw.com.au/sydney-royal-competitions/competitions/sydney-royal-wine-show/results/ and can save you time and stress next time you need to pick up a bottle for BYO. The 2018 Sydney Royal Wine Show is accepting entries now for mid-year judging.
Camels have been milked for over 5000 years but the first pasteurised camel milk in Australia was not produced until 2014. This year the Sydney Royal Cheese & Dairy Competition welcomed camel milk for judging, and the first ever Gold Medal for Camel Milk was awarded, with a score of 18.5 out of 20, to Summer Land Camel Dairy. Camel Milk is higher in iron than cow’s milk, lower in cholesterol than goat’s milk, lower in lactose than cow’s milk and higher in vitamin C than cow’s milk. Camel milk is smooth, creamy, and pure white in colour. It can be used as a base for ice cream, cheese, gelato, hand cream, soap, shampoo and even body lotions. Camel milk makes delicious smoothies and panna cotta and can be added to your coffee and breakfast cereal. You can drink it by the glass or use it in place of cow’s milk in recipes. And the hump? It stores fat, a source of nourishment for the camel as it crosses the desert…
Do you like an espresso or a latte? Neither! How about a piccolo? Like that little girl in the Old El Paso commercials asking ‘why don’t you have both’; a Piccolo combines your espresso and your latte. A piccolo latte is a café latte made in an espresso cup. It has a very strong but mellowed espresso taste thanks to the steamed milk and micro foam within it. One theory suggest the piccolo latte originated in Sydney baristas and coffee roasters started drinking piccolo-style coffee in order to check how their brews were tasting with milk throughout the day. Not wanting a dairy bloat nor to be bouncing off the walls so full of caffeine, this perfectly shrunk café latte deliciously does the job. At this year’s Sydney Royal Coffee Competition, Piccolo was added as a class. As a result, exhibitor The House of Robert Timms has taken out two Champion Coffee Titles – Champion Piccolo Blend and Champion Sustainable Coffee. For a newly introduced class and to already have a Champion, The House of Robert Timms has set the bar (or even, beans) high.
For more than 25 years, the Rodely family have been farming award-winning oysters in the pristine waters of Nelson Lake located in NSW’s Mimosa Rocks National Park. Environmental sustainability is at the heart of the family business, with all oysters bred and grown on site and only eco-friendly materials used. Even wastewater is recycled to maintain local parks and gardens. Recycling titles is becoming a theme for the Rodely family and their Tathra Oysters too… once again they have been named Champion Sydney Rock Oyster at the Sydney Royal Fine Food – Aquaculture Competition. This is the 14 th year Tathra Oysters have taken home the title of Champion – 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. The Rodely family was presented with the Award of Outstanding Excellence in 2004 & 2007 for Tathra Oysters and won the Inaugural President’s Medal in 2006. Sydney Royal Medals benchmark products that have been deemed outstanding, the President’s Medal Judges examine the commercial success, environmental integrity and social involvement of the business behind the product. The President’s Medal is awarded to the best of the best, the supreme food champion. Perhaps Sydney Royal awards are the pearls in every Tathra Oyster shell.
Today marks the day that many of us will be showcasing public displays of affection to our loved ones. Money will be spent on flowers, cards and teddy bears galore. Might we suggest adding a certain sweet treat to the shopping list for your other half? How does a chocolate praline croissant, a caramelised vanilla slice with raspberries and a fresh fruit Danish sound? Pretty good if you ask us and we think our Sydney Royal Professional Bakery Judges agreed awarding Champion Pastry to young apprentice, Joshua Nickl for these mouth-watering goodies. “It’s a big honour winning both Champion Pastry and Champion Apprentice. It’s a pretty special feeling.” Said Mr. Nickl As both the apprentice and son of famous, The Gumnut Patisserie, it’s safe to say that Mr Nickl was born and ‘bread’ in the baking industry. Founded by his parents Tracy and Vicki Nickl in 1995, the smells of dough, sugar and butter became all too a familiar scent, leaving the craving for a career in the family business. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the family kitchen. I knew from a young age that this was something that I wanted to do. I saw nothing else in my eyes” Mr. Nickl said. “As soon as I finished High School I started my apprenticeship and I haven’t looked back since” For this young apprentice, it can be said that his age doesn’t bring experience. What it does bring though, is a natural talent for creating amazing baked goods that are both easy on the eye and satisfying for the stomach. Everyone knows that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, so what better excuse than Valentine’s Day to treat yourself someone special with the fabulous Champion treats from The Gumnut Patisserie. As their motto states, “Life’s short, eat dessert first”. To find out all the best sweet treats, baked goods and Australia’s best Coffee and Aquaculture from the 2018 Summer Fine Food Competitions, click here .
The growing national interest in the annual Royal Agricultural Society of NSW’s (RAS) President’s Medal has been emphasised in the list of finalists for the 12 th annual staging of the prestigious award. The six finalists to emerge from the Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food competitions across the calendar year are; Barossa Fine Foods – Fior Di Cotto – Edinburgh North, South Australia. Black Label Berkshire – Black Label Silver Berkshire Pork – Beverley, Western Australia. Brasserie Bread – Flinders Ranges Sprouted Wheat Loaf – Sydney, NSW. Gage Road Brewing – Red Rye IPA, Fremantle, Western Australia. Gundowring Fine Foods – Gundowring Finest Ice Cream Licorice, Gundowring, Victoria. Poachers Pantry – Smoked Duck Breast, Springrange, NSW. The finalists represent the competitions - Deli Meat, Branded Pork, Beer and Cider, Dairy and Professional Bakery. During 2017 there were 5308 products entered and judged across 488 classes, resulting in 95 Champions. It was an exciting year for Pork, it being the inaugural judging competition. President of the RAS Robert Ryan says to be declared a finalist in the President’s Medal is a massive compliment to any Australian producer and an acknowledgement of their quality and practices. “To be in this sort of company is a matter of great pride and recognition of a lot of research and development and tireless work by the finalists across every aspect of their production,” Mr Ryan said. “Australia truly is at the top of its game when it comes to food production and ingenuity and the Sydney Royal competitions are evidence of this with each passing year,” he said. President’s Medal finalists are rigorously evaluated based on the quality, marketability, financial integrity and environmental sensitivity of their operations. Following intensive judging including on-site audits and inspections across the coming months, the President’s Medal winner will be announced at a gala evening as part of the Sydney Royal Easter Show at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park on March 28, 2018. Celebrity Sydney chef Colin Fassnidge is a President’s Medal judge and will be guest chef on the night. “I’m excited to be able to work with one of the finalist’s products in what I will present on awards night,” Colin Fassnidge said. “Aussie product is as good as it comes and being able to work with the best of the best is what chefs love,” he said. Another high profile chef Ed Halmagyi is one of the President’s Medal judges travelling the country visiting farms and factories as they study the operations of the six finalists. Ends For interviews and image requests, please contact: Roger White Manager, Public Relations Royal Agricultural Society of NSW T: 02 9704 1453 M: 0478 092 425 E: email@example.com
It was the early 1800s when Coenraad Van Houten created the cocoa press, squishing the bean and expelling the cocoa butter before washing the cocoa in an alkali solution to come up with ‘Dutch cocoa’. In the 1850s Englishman Joseph Fry added cocoa butter to cocoa powder and sugar to come up with the world’s first solid chocolate. In 1875 Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle added condensed milk to the solid chocolate and created a milk chocolate bar. Swiss man Rudolphe Lindt invented a machine that mixed chocolate to a perfectly smooth consistency in 1879. In 1911 in a small town in Belgium Octaaf Callebaut produced his first chocolate recipe and shops in the outlying villages could not get enough of it. In 1960, Callebaut began exporting chocolate, and in 2016, Callebaut sponsored the first stand-alone Sydney Royal Chocolate Show. In 2017, it becomes apparent that somehow chocolate and blowtorches can co-exist, along with ribbons, nitrogen canisters, spray paint and melting tanks. It may look a little like a mechanic’s workshop or a graffiti artist’s den, and it is definitely a construction zone. Senses are on overload because it is the Chocolate Showpiece competition at the 2017 Callebaut Sydney Royal Chocolate Show, and the showpieces must be made entirely of chocolate. All decorations must be made of chocolate. Coloured cocoa butter, food grade decorative metallic powders, and edible gold or silver leaf are permitted. Non-edible stands are permitted. There is no minimum height restriction but showpieces must be no more than 180 centimetres tall. Imagine, almost 6 foot of chocolate sculpted into whatever takes your fancy. Chocolate can be used in the same way a sculptor uses clay, stone or metal. It is a very malleable material but it has no lasting qualities… it is meant to be consumed. Surprisingly Australia is not in the top ten of chocolate consuming countries across the world, we sit at a respectable 13 th place, just behind Russia and ahead of Sweden. With double our consumption, in first place is Switzerland. Belgium, the birthplace of Callebaut Chocolate is 5 th . Ireland, the UK and Austria complete the top five. The Champion Chocolate Showpiece sculptor will be named at the Taste of Excellence Awards on 22 September.
Two minutes and 40 seconds is all it takes to cook the perfect Wagyu steak. Carefully sliced to 10mm thickness and passing through the cooking chamber before resting for exactly two minutes, the steak was at its optimum flavour point. The fatty, marbled flesh tasted rich and gently sweet, with a lingering savoury taste. The judges only got a slither of wagyu, enough to give it a score but not enough to feel satisfied and full. That was lucky because they had to leave room in their bellies for the Grass Fed Beef and the Grain Fed Beef. Pleased by the very high standard of entries in the Sydney Royal Branded Beef , Branded Lamb and Branded Pork competitions, Chair of Judges George Ujvary was happy to welcome university student Sophie Ward for her first experience as a Sydney Royal judge. Sophie is currently finalising her Honours in Animal Science at Roseworthy College in South Australia and hopes to go on to complete her PHD in Sow Welfare. Sophie’s area of interest is the influence of the living conditions of pigs on the quality of the meat. “It was pretty incredible to taste such sweet flavoursome and tender pieces of pork,” said Sophie, “I would have loved to know about the living conditions from the entries afterwards, as well as the feed they were given as some of the flavours were just incredible.” Christmas dinner is looking good this year with such positive feedback from the Sydney Royal Branded Beef , Branded Lamb and Branded Pork competitions.
Wondering what to look for in wine for the rest of 2017? The KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show judges have done the work for you so no matter which wine region or territory you would like to support, here are some of the top selections by State. For a full list of the 2017 KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show medal winners visit Australia's Best Producers . NSW STEVENS SEMILLON 2011, Tyrell’s Vineyards Pty Ltd NOBLE ONE 2015, De Bortoli Wines PEPPER SHIRAZ 2013, Montoro Wines VAT 1 SEMILLON 2017, Tyrell’s Vineyards Pty Ltd VAT 47 CHARDONNAY 2013, Tyrell’s Vineyards Pty Ltd BRUT TRADITIONELLE NV, Centennial Vineyards CATO TEMPRANILLO 2015, Moppity Vineyards VIC OLD PREMIUM LIQUEUR TOPAQUE NV, Morris Wines CELLAR ONE LIQUEUR TOPAQUE NV, Morris Wines OLD PREMIUM MUSCAT NV, Morris Wines VP 2013, Morris Wines AMEN BREAK CHARDONNAY 2015, Clonal Brothers PENNON HILL CHARDONNAY 2016, Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove GREAT WESTERN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015, Best’s Wines Pty Ltd SA RIESLINGFREAK No. 3 CLARE VALLEY RIESLING 2017, John Hughes Wines MATTSCHOSS SINGLE VINEYARD EDEN VALLEY SHIRAZ 2015, St Hallett PEPPERJACK SPARKLING SHIRAZ NV, W Salter And Son THE MARL SHIRAZ 2016, Hentley Farm AGED RELEASE RIESLING 2013, Penfolds Wines Pty Ltd CHRONICLES 7 th GREEN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016, Hardys S.C. PANNELL BARBERA 2016, Stephen Pannell Wines Pty Ltd WA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017, Miles From Nowhere Winemakers SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE 2016, Redgate Wines SRS WALLCLIFFE CHARDONNAY 2016, Flametree Wines DJL SAUVIGNON BLANC SEMILLON 2016, Xanadu Wines MERLOT 2016, Amberley Wines REDBROOK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014, Evans & Tate VERSE 1 CABERNET MERLOT 2015, Brookland Valley TAS/ACT GRAND VINTAGE 2008, House of Arras (TAS) PINOT NOIR 2016, Meadowbank Wines (TAS) ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2015, Gala Estate Vineyard (TAS) BRUT ROSÉ 2013, Clover Hill (TAS) 660 CANBERRA SHIRAZ 2016, McWilliam’s Wines Group Pty Ltd (ACT) 1877 SHIRAZ 2015, McWilliam’s Wines Group Pty Ltd (ACT) DEVIL’S CORNER MT AMOS PINOT NOIR 2015, Brown Brothers Tasmania (TAS)
What constitutes a well-trained palate for beer tasting and judging? The judging panel for the Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show comprises a combination of beer & cider producers, industry educators and communicators, brewers, industry professionals, sommeliers, retailers and journalists. Each judge is an expert, with an appreciation prepared by years of professional experience. And what exactly are they tasting for in blind judging of beer, cider and perry? Drinkability is important – do you want to drink some more and do you actually like it. Overall, the exhibit is judged on Appearance, Aroma, Flavour, Technical Merit, and Style. When it comes to beer, head retention is amongst the criteria judged, clarity and colour are counted, and hop character is also important. The criteria for cider and perry judging include finish and carbonation, fruit character in the aroma, and acid/fruit/sugar balance. The correct balance of taste, aroma and appearance for the style can mean the difference between a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal for beer, cider and perry exhibits. At Sydney Royal, the judges don’t only taste and rate each product but they provide individual feedback to every exhibitor. This alone is a tremendous reason to enter but coupled with the opportunity to benchmark your product against others and to receive recognition from industry peers, participation is more than rewarded. Neal Cameron, Chair of Judges is the developer and teacher of the Certificate III in Microbrewing at TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute. Neil is also Technical Director for Brewtique, specialising in brewing equipment installs around Australia and Asia. When asked what he would spend his last $10 on, Neal answered: “A decent craft beer, naturally.” And if you’re wondering, as apples are to cider, so pears are to perry.
As cider is made from apples, perry is made from pears. And award-winning beer is made from blood, sweat and yeast! The Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show is open for entries now, but you’ll need to get your hops on – entries close on 11 July. Supporting the Australian Beer & Cider industry, by attracting the very best professionals as Judges and Stewards and providing an excellent environment for networking and professional development to all participants, the competition promotes and rewards excellence in the Australian beverage industry. Previous Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show winners include Sydney Brewery, Matilda Bay, Redoak and Murray’s Craft Brewing Co. All exhibits are of Australian origin, brewed in Australia and with all business names registered in Australia. All Cider and Perry Exhibits must be made using Australian-grown apples and pears. No additional flavours are allowed to be added. At Sydney Royal the judges don’t only taste and rate each exhibit, they also provide individual feedback to every exhibitor. Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show exhibitors have included Bridge Road Brewers, Franklin Cider Company, 4 Pines Brewing Co. and Lion Australia, with entry numbers increasing over the past ten years of competition. This is an outstanding opportunity to for beer, cider and perry producers and brewers to benchmark their product against competitors and draw attention to their beverages. As well as pride and prestige, a Sydney Royal win provides a springboard to increase returns. All winners receive Sydney Royal medal or trophy artwork designed to be used across a wide range of marketing collateral. There is also the opportunity to present and promote medal-winning products at the Sydney Royal Easter Show – an event that attracts on average 850,000 visitors every year, and the opportunity to be handpicked by Sydney Showground to supply your medal-winning product at hundreds of events that happen on site throughout the year. The Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show – entries close 11 July, judging takes place 19 September, awards night 22 September… find out more at www.rasnsw.com.au/beercider and discover if beauty truly is in the eye of the beer holder.
Words: Jodie Van Der Velden With the Easter holiday celebration just weeks away, there’s no doubt chocolate consumption in Australia will spike. Chocolate eggs, said to be an ancient symbol of new life and resurrection and celebration of spring returning, have been associated with this religious holiday since the early 19 th century in Europe. With chocolate on everyone’s minds and palates at this time of year, it’s timely to reflect on all things chocolate and where Australia sits in the chocolate world. The Australian chocolate industry has experienced a rapid evolution over the last decade, with Australian artisan chocolatiers producing as beautiful chocolate products as those found in the luxurious chocolateries of Europe. At the 2013 World Chocolate Masters competition, Australia won third place ahead of Italy (first place) and Netherlands (second place) as well as winning Best Architect of the world - globe. These results clearly highlight the quality of training and innovation found here in Australia. Contemporary Australian trends in chocolate are very much in line with current global trends. Consumers are continually becoming more discerning through increased health awareness and education. Whilst there are certainly still consumers that are satisfied with mass manufactured low grade chocolate products, there is a rapidly growing consumer group that is concerned with the ethics and sustainability behind growing and harvesting cacao, and the manufacturing of chocolate. Consumers are now interested in single origin and single plantation chocolates. These products are made from cacao beans grown in a single location or plantation and contain individual flavour profiles drawn from the cacao bean, rather than the addition of flavours. As the health benefits of chocolate are continually revealed, astute consumers are very conscious of artificial ingredients. There is a growing trend to choose quality over quantity, with consumers turning towards high-quality dark chocolate rather than milk and white chocolates which contain a high sugar, low cacao content. Favourable consumer attitudes towards higher quality chocolate products have caused a decline in demand for some mass manufactured lower grade chocolate products. This trend has resulted in more opportunities for boutique artisan chocolatiers to contribute to the market. Consumers have become more daring than ever before and are trying, and loving, unique flavour combinations, such as chilli and mango, lime and basil, saffron, and balsamic vinegar. The Sydney Royal Chocolate Competition is an ideal showcase for Australia’s chocolatiers. In my role as Chief Chocolate Judge, I’ve witnessed greater emphasis being placed upon innovation and the use of high quality natural ingredients from producers. To see beautifully crafted, innovative chocolate products that have been executed with outstanding technical expertise and skill, being rewarded with Sydney Royal Gold Medals is a very rewarding experience in itself. These awards are invaluable to the winner in acknowledging their outstanding product and encouraging further innovation to lead the Australian chocolate industry into the future. About Jodie Van Der Velden Jodie Van Der Velden is the Chair of Judges for the 2016 Callebaut Sydney Royal Show and has been Chief Judge of Sydney Royal Chocolate competitions since 2012. Ms Van Der Velden has 10 years’ experience as a professional chocolatier. Her passion for the craft has been rewarded through myriad accolades. Considerable time spent in cacao plantations all over the world, working to understand the raw product in its natural state, has contributed in no small part to Ms Van Der Velden’s superior palate and the success of Josophan’s Fine Chocolates, which she founded in 2005.
WORDS: Alexandra Malfoy Article first appeared RAS Times November 2011 Judging the best chilli products may not be everyone's idea of a good time. But what type of person does it take to taste and test the piquant product? There seems to be more to chillies, and the people who love them, than meets the eye. If you like chillies, you're most probably a gregarious person. That's according to Sydney Royal Fine Food Judges Carol Selva Rajah, Scott Succow and Edward 'Ted' Davis. "It's a food that people with an outgoing personality gravitate towards. You wouldn't eat chilli by yourself. You eat it in a group of people. If you're a chilli person, you're social. How much fun do you have when you're sitting at home and perspiring by yourself?" laughs Carol, who is a food writer, teacher and chef. Carol, Scott and Ted are food connoisseurs and self-confessed chilli lovers (and in case you were wondering, are all quite outgoing in nature). They were recently tasked with judging the best chilli products at the Spring Sydney Royal Fine Food Show across four classes: sauces, chutneys, jams and relishes. Judging chilli products may seem like a terrifying task to those with sensitive palates, with chillies renowned for leaving a burning sensation in the mouth. The heat from chillies is derived from capsicanoids , several compounds found in the tissue near the seeds. When eaten, capsaicinoids bind with pain receptors in the lining of the mouth that are responsible for sensing heat. These powerful compounds are also used in capsicum spray in the police force. Luckily for chilli consumers, repeated exposure to capsaicinoids depletes these receptors, enabling chillies to be eaten with less impact. One of the most common myths about chilli products is 'the hotter the chilli the better'. For the judges the criterion is much more complex than just the heat of the product. It's a combination of sight, smell and taste. "If the chilli is too hot, it's often negative as it masks other nuances and flavours in the product," explains Ted, who is 'partially' retired with a background in food teaching and restaurants. Ted continues his involvement with chillies through the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show and has judged chilli products for the past five years. "With the products we're judging, we're looking for the positives in look, smell and taste. The texture is really important. It's as important as it looks, as it is in the mouth," he says. Scott Succow, who hails from America but now teaches at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, says it's all about the right balance between flavours when selecting the finest chilli products. "We're looking for something that has gone beyond the raw ingredient. Something with complexity, but that also has harmony. The ingredients need to complement each other, but you still need to know it is chilli. It’s really a balancing act. It needs to be pleasant but not harsh," he says. For any products that did get the mouth burning and sweat on the brow, the judges had a tub of yoghurt on hand. "We use dairy to clear our palates in our judging role, to neutralise and move on to the next product," says Carol. People using water to quell the burning sensation after eating hot chilli products is a common mistake, she says. "Whatever you do, don’t drink water. Water spreads the chilli oil down your throat." The only way to get rid of the burning from a really hot chilli, Carol advises, is to eat a banana, which is a custom from India. According to the three chilli connoisseurs, the standard of products entered into this year's competition was high, and the quality had improved from previous years. Last year no gold medal was awarded. This year a Hot Lime Pickle condiment took home the one and only gold award. The judges were full of praise for the product. "There was plenty of lime but the chilli came through and it was beautifully pickled. There was no harshness in the rind and it didn't separate from the rest of the ingredients. The lime was there but it was mellow," says Ted. "The main thing was the chilli didn't get lost, because lime itself is a dominant flavour, but it balanced beautifully. It is a very good product." Along with the one gold medal awarded, three silver and two bronze medals were awarded in the chilli classes. The Chilli products form part of the Regional Food Competition at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. Regional Food was introduced to the Show in 2003 to feature unique regional products from around Australia, and has since grown to include 33 classes across sweet, savoury and speciality products. This year, the chilli classes expanded to include sauces, dressings, jams, relishes and traditional kassoundi. According to the judges, the future of the chilli and associated products looks promising. "Looking at the products today has renewed me with fresh hope we're going in the right direction. The good news for people that enjoy chillies is they've never been more available and there's never been more variety," says Ted. Scott believes Australia is catching up to other leading chilli nations. "In the United States (of America), chillies are everywhere as there are cultures that hold the chilli up high and embrace it. Lately I have seen the appreciation and market here is growing," he says. For what may seem like a strange love for some, there is no denying the enthusiasm and passion towards chillies from the three judges. "People like a bit of fun in their life. Chilli is one of a few products that most people would smile when they talk about it. They smile for two reasons - because they like it, or because they have played party tricks tasting the hottest chilli. They hark back to the days... 'Oh I remember when...'" laughs Ted. "So there's a lot going for chillies." "There's a lot of Vitamin C in them too, they're great for your health," adds Carol. For Scott, it's the big, bold flavours that attract him to the product. "Chilli is one of the few things that can give you pleasure and pain at the same time," he says. "It's like going to a scary movie. You don't want to be scared, but you like it, because it gets your heart racing. That's what chillies do. They get your heart racing; they make you know you're alive."
Spoil dad with these scrumdiddlyumptious selections from the 2016 Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food Shows. BEER Gold American Pale Ale www.napoleonebrewers.com.au Napoleone Brewers, Coldstream NSW 3770 Gold Silent Knight Porter www.mobrewing.com.au Modus Operandi Brewing, Mona Vale 2567 Champion Lovedale Lager www.sydneybrewery.com Sydney Brewery, Lovedale NSW 2325 WINE Trophy 2014 Second Innings Malbec www.bleasdale.com.au Blesadale Vineyards, Langhorne Creek SA 5255 Trophy 2014 CCS Shiraz www.chalkerscrossing.com.au Chalkers Crossing, Young NSW 2594 CHEESE Gold Heritage Vintage www.begacheese.com.au Bega Cheese, Bega NSW 2550 BACON Gold Canadian Style Maple Bacon www.germanbutchery.com.au German Butchery, Mona Vale NSW 2103 LAMB Champion Grass Fed Lamb www.millyhill.com.au Milly Hill Lamb Pty Ltd, Armidale NSW 2350 BEEF Champion Grass Fed Beef www.bindareebeef.com.au Bindaree Beef Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW 2000 OLIVE OIL Champion Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil www.cobramestate.com.au Cobram Estate, Lara VIC 3212 COFFEE Best in Show Kenya www.mycuppa.com.au Carlini Coffee Company, Ashburton VIC 3147