Southport cookie mix creators celebrate six star awards

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Jessica Bakes-Well
Jessica Bakes-Well

Cookie mix creators Jessica Bakes-Well are celebrating six Great Taste Awards at this year’s event.

The family company, run by Carol Darbyshire is only in its fifth year but is already a familiar sight at local markets in and around Southport.

Like many businesses in the sector it began with a passion for sharing great food.

Carol explains: “Back in December 2012 my husband had lost his job, and our three little boys were seven and five year old twins! We made cookie mixes as cost effective Christmas gifts for friends and family.  They went down so well friends asked where we had bought them as they wanted to purchase them.

“We had nothing to lose – both my husband and I already had our Food Hygiene Certificates so we had our kitchen inspected by Sefton Environmental Health in January 2013 (achieving a 5 Star rating) and starting making cookie mixes to sell at local markets. It was in August 2013 we achieved our first Great Tate Award for White Chocolate & Lemon Meringue Cookie Mix – still a firm favourite amongst our customers.”

They continue to attend festivals, fairs and markets.

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“We love meeting our customers face to face, and letting them sample our goodies,” says Carol. “We are also stocked in Botany Bay Food Hall and sell online via Etsy.com – online artisan marketplace.”

This year Carol made a big leap.

“I left my job of 16 years as a nursery nurse at Merchant Taylors’ Primary School to run the business full time,” she says. “Equal measures of fear and excitement. As we speak, we are in the process of securing premises as we upscale the business allowing for more production.”

Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging.

Whether it is gin, biscuits, sausages or coffee being judged, all products are removed from their wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award.

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500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, restaurateurs, cooks, producers and a host of food writers and journalists blind taste each product.

The panel of judges this also year included – chef, food writer and author Gill Meller, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic Charles Campion, author Zoe Adjonyoh, baker Tom Herbert, and food writer and baking columnist, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols.

Record breaking year for cheese awards

A record breaking 12,336 different products were entered in 2017, of which 3,171 were awarded 1-star, 1,011awarded 2-stars and 165 awarded 3-stars.

Jessica Bakes-Well won six Great Taste Awards in total this year – four x 1 Star Awards and two x 2 Star Awards, taking their total Great Taste Awards to nine.

Jessica Bakes-Well
Jessica Bakes-Well

Their1 Star Awards were for the following mixes:

  • Chocolate Toffee Popcorn Cookie Mix
  • Turkish Delight Cookie Mix 
  • White Chocolate, Stem Ginger and Black Pepper Cookie Mix
  • Chocolate Chilli Cappuccino Cookie Mix

Their 2 Star Awards were for the following mixes:

  • Sticky Toffee Popcorn Mix
  • Coconut Raspberry & White Chocolate Cookie Mix 

Details of this year’s winners can be found at www.greattasteawards.co.uk and a wide range of award winning products are available to buy in delis, farm shops and independent retail outlets, as well as via Taste Shop which helps consumers source Great Taste award-winning products online.

Find out more at the Jessica Bakes-Well facebook page.

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