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Top of the crops - Menu de Terroir winners

Date: 18/09/2006 | Posted by John Garton
THE Olive Branch in Colomberie and the Garden Restaurant at Jersey Pottery are the winners of the Menu de Terroir 2006, which is organised by the Genuine Jersey Products Association in association with Victor Hugo Wines and Laurent-Perrier Champagne. The accolade of overall winner is awarded to the Garden Restaurant.

The Olive Branch took first prize in the café and brasserie category, while the Garden Restaurant won the restaurant and hotel category. Both participants were highly praised by the judge, leading UK chef John Benson-Smith, for combining local ingredients with plenty of imagination to come up with the winning menus.

Runners up in the competition – and both highly commended – were the Mary Rose in the café and brasserie category and the Longueville Manor Hotel in the restaurant and hotel division.

Mr Benson-Smith was joined by sponsor Patrick Delafield, of Victor Hugo, in assessing the finalists. Both were extremely impressed by the overall quality exhibited, commenting that the enthusiasm for the Menu du Terroir was evident at all establishments they visited.

Mr Benson-Smith, who arrived in Jersey earlier this year to launch the Boat House restaurant, said: “The judges believe wholeheartedly that the Menu de Terroir is a terrific initiative for promoting the very best that Jersey has to offer – fresh, seasonal ingredients, all sourced locally from an array of suppliers, including the Island’s fishermen, farmers, growers and producers.

“The Menu de Terroir 2006 has given a superb opportunity for nearly 30 restaurateurs and chefs to show off their individual skills and creativity, but even more importantly to demonstrate the diversity and extremely high standard of the excellent produce readily available within the Island. We’ve judged competitors not only on the quality and taste of the food on their menu, but also on its prominence and the amount of local produce used – ideally in the region of 80 per cent.”

Mr Delafield, Victor Hugo’s director of business development, said: “It has been extremely encouraging to see so many of Jersey’s cafés, pubs, restaurants and hotels taking this opportunity to give pride of place to a seasonal menu and embracing the use of local ingredients. The warmth of the welcome was most commendable in the establishments of all four finalists. Ambience and presentation were also of a very high standard indeed.”

Ken Syvret, chairman of the Genuine Jersey Products Association, said that this year’s competition had left the association in no doubt that it should be held again in 2007. “The Menu de Terroir is all about promoting local products and getting them onto menus for the benefit of not only the producer but also the diner, who can enjoy the high quality and excellent taste of local goods. Jersey character and food seasonality are at the heart of the competition and of Genuine Jersey,” he said.

The 2006 competition was launched in May and continued until last week. During the summer, a panel of mystery judges visited establishments to draw up the shortlist of finalists. The success of the 2004 and 2005 events led to the number of participants in this year’s competition reaching 28.