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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good Food Awards: Judging the Nation's Best Artisanal Foods and Spirits

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 9:30 AM

  • James Collier
The Good Food Awards, a national competition of obvious focus, hosted their second annual judgment off all things artisan, sustainable and delicious this Sunday in San Francisco.

130 judges conquered 926 entries in categories of coffee, chocolate, cheese, charcuterie, and more. Beer apparently also counts as food, as it was covered for a second year, and Spirits were added as a new category.

Foodlebrity judges Ruth Reichl and Alice Waters, who skipped out for lunch together, judged jams alongside Nell Newman of Newman's Organics. Sponsor Gilt Taste, where Reichl serves as Editorial Advisor, also sent their editor, Jennifer Pelka, to cover cheese. She, Laura Werlin (likely the best know cheese writer on the planet), and others worked diligently into the lunch hour to shave down a huge collection of cheeses for the finals after lunch.

The day ran from breakfast till 5 p.m., with an after party for judges and other food folk. Groups clustered by category across a start-up-style warren of table clusters spread across two floors in the Hub Soma's loft style office. Judges nibbled, sipped, chewed, sniffed, and ultimately passed judgement on the best artisan foods the nation has to offer.

Judging ranged in approach from the absolute silence and independent decision making of the coffee team, to the more convivial and conversational jam judging. Plate sized wheels of cheese were sliced and passed, while tiny individual squares of chocolate were nibbled. "Acrid!" "Stinky." "Medicinal." "Finger-berry." Comments from the judges discussing chocolate overlapped with the announcements of the next Jam in pleasant pandemonium.

Finalists will be announced Nov. 10 in New York, and winners unveiled in San Francisco on Jan. 13 in a Ferry Building celebration. A public marketplace will follow the next day.

The Good Food Awards is a non-profit project of Seedling Projects.

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