PORK cheeks from a Dorset producer have been recognised as the best in class at the Great Taste Awards.

The Charcuterie Product of the Year was presented to Capreolus Fine Foods, from Rampisham near Beaminster, for its Guanciale, described as a perfect example of cured and air-dried pork cheek.

The Guanciale impressed at every stage of the blind-tasted judging process, beating many other charcuterie entries from the UK and beyond. It was praised for its balance of sweet and salty flavours and its melt in the mouth texture.

The pork cheek was celebrated at the Great Taste Golden Fork Dinner held on Sunday, September 1 in London, where more than 350 guests gathered to sample this year's stars of food and drink.

Capreolus Fine Foods is a family-owned artisan charcuterie producer prioritising quality. The business sources locally bred and reared free range meat wherever possible, as well as seasonal wild meats from the West Country.

Curing of the meat follows traditional techniques. Air-drying is carried out in temperature and humidity controlled rooms, while smoke is used to enhance the flavour of certain products. Beech wood chips give meats a subtle and delicate taste without dominating the natural flavour.

Capreolus Fine Foods produces a huge range of products, most of which are available online. These include a variety of salamis, salt beef and pastrami, smoked mutton, duck breast and confit, and seasonal smoked pheasant breasts.

The business also offers a smoking service for cheese and butter producers.

Great Taste was founded in 1994 and organised by the Guild of Fine Food. It has judged more than 146,000 products in the last 25 years, each one blind-tested by a team of expert judges. Products are then awarded a one, two, or three star rating, with less than 3% of foods receiving the highly-acclaimed three stars.

The judging panel this year included Melissa Hemsley, cook, writer, and champion of sustainable food, Kenny Tutt, winner of Masterchef 2018, and Zoe Adjonyoh, author and chef, as well as food buyers from Selfridges, Sourced Market and Partridges. Judging took place at the Guild HQ in Dorset, as well as several other Dorset venues.

For more information about the Taste Awards and to find out about other winners, visit www.greattasteawards.co.uk.