The lunch was ‘Bramleycentric’ as you would expect and the team of creative chefs at Quo Vadis excelled with a menu as rich in flavour as it was full of Bramleys!
We heard from Adrian Barlow in his opening remarks that cooking programmes are popular – but they are not impacting on cooking habits. I thought that the menu was a great example of the diversity of dishes that Bramley could be used in. Adrian agreed, stating that the time has come to broaden the horizons for our Bramleys, away from traditional uses and for us to tap into the potential for overseas diets and unfamiliar dishes. “We need to stretch the publics’ comprehension of their versatility,” he said. “The awards present the industry with an opportunity to recognise retailers, manufacturers, catering companies, journalists and chefs who are championing the iconic Bramley apple. The winners have showed outstanding support for Bramley apples over the past year through the quality and breadth of products they have developed, the innovative promotional activities they have undertaken, and their highlighting of Bramley in the media. I am delighted that we have this opportunity to celebrate their achievements.”
Starting in 1989, the Bramley campaign has come a long way but still holds on to the original aims and objectives – to encourage the greater use of Bramley by the British public. We were informed that in each category this year many individuals and organisations have given huge support to Bramley, so competition was considerable. Sainsburys and Waitrose were jointly awarded the coveted Best Bramley Retailer award, the first time this has been shared. There were a few mutterings of ‘cop out’ from some quarters to this. But as Adrian pointed out, is the award purely about volume sold or is it about all round performance with good marketing, promoting and supporting the Bramley campaign? Sainsburys sold more fruit, had a wide range of Bramley products on their shelves, campaigns with Jack Monroe and good social media activity stimulated by the Goatham team were also given credit, whereas Waitrose sold a significantly smaller volume (from a significantly smaller estate) but also engaged in all elements of the official campaign and had rafts of products on shelf. Whomever makes a lot of noise about Bramleys gets my vote!
Mr Kipling won the food service award for their exceedingly good cakes. Darlington and Daughters won the savoury Bramley product prize for their Autumn Fruit Chutney. Cottage Delights won with their apple sauce, and Kensey Foods won with their Tesco Bramley Apple Pie.
So what next? I hear reports that the Horsmonden hard fruit sale has a lot of Bramleys in it, there is speculation that there won’t be a single bid; stocks have been used, but with new season itching to be picked, there is plenty of good fruit in store from last year still. The crop is large again and prices are likely to be low as I would imagine all processors have everything that they will need for a while. The responsibility lies with everyone in the industry to shout about them, eat them, to cook them every week, serve them at every dinner party, talk about them incessantly to everyone we meet, tweet about them, encourage everyone to eat them. Above all, if you sell Bramleys, please, please make sure that you are contributing to the official campaign and supporting its work, it has done brilliantly this year and has good momentum to support us well next year.