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Chris Brown- Marmalade Medal News

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From local baker, farmer's market maven & bon vivant Chris Baker's latest successful attempt @ storming the Briddish Marmalade Medal competition.
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Marmalade Gold!

Well! That was a rollercoaster. The World’s Original Marmalade Awards in Penrith England have come and gone this past weekend …this time without my attendance.

As mentioned two weeks ago I had packaged up 4 varieties of marmalade to be FedEx’ed off to England. Time was tight as the Monday holiday had me sending my package off on Tuesday for the Thurs/Friday deadline in England! Couldn’t be helped as I was tinkering up to the last minute with my different blends -and as each batch takes about 3 days to make and finish it was tricky.

The lineup:
A different version of my Silver Award winning Seville with a chewier peel (this based on tasting some of the other award winners last year). I took a big chance because it could possibly be considered as a defect and then cast unceremoniously on the pile of broken dreams ;)
A Blood Orange Marmalade using those new larger sized blood oranges (I thought they lacked a bit of that Campari intenseness that the small ones have but I took another chance).

A combo of Pink Grapefruit with Blood Orange. I only had the chance to make two batches of this, the first being a bit light on peel. The second batch was made the night before the delivery and went out untasted!

Finally I tried a Seville and Whisky combo and as previously mentioned I tasted about 6 different whiskies from my ridiculously large whisky collection and finally settled on the one I have been using all along: The Bowmore 15 year Dark.

Off they went and I carefully followed the online Fed Ex tracking as they sped across the continent to Memphis before heading off to England. From there they dropped off the map once they hit London for some reason and only the following Saturday did I get confirmation that they had arrived on Friday (this with a backdrop of serious flooding and road closures all over England).

The wait was on. The drill is: the judges arrive and start tasting all the samples. (Well known baking and jam making authors Dan Lepard and Pam Corbin were among the judges.)

With the Festival scheduled for 10 days later I waited hopefully for the first possible notice of an award which was Friday (one week before the festival) for the Gold winners. Friday came and went without an email or phone call. Sigh…

My next hope was Monday when they send out emails for the Silver and Bronze winners. Because England is 8 hours ahead it’s kind of fun to wake up, grab your tablet and lie in bed looking to see if you have a surprise in your inbox…..still, nothing!!!

I checked all day Monday and Tuesday as well. By then it was obvious that I was not going to get a notification and I was a flash in the pan for my Silver award the year before.

But wait….Wed morning I received a general information email from the Marmalade Festival simply mentioning the time of the Festival start on Saturday and the time of the awards. Darn! But then I asked myself, “why did they send awards ceremony info if I did not win anything?”…….

So, not wanting to give up if there was the faintest hope- here is my correspondence to Jenny who handles all the media info at Dalmain Mansion in Penrith, the home of the festival:

“Hello Jenny
I do not want to appear sad and desperate ;) but I just want to be sure why I have received a general notice regarding awards as I have not received any award notification this year for my Artisan entries. I’ll try to do better next year!
Thanks
Chris Brown

Here is her reply about 10 minutes later!
“Chris
Sorry! – I had sent you an email last Friday so apologies that you haven’t received it! It’s fantastic news as your Seville & Orange Whisky Marmalade won a gold. Your Pink Grapefruit/Blood Orange got a bronze as did your Seville Orange. Congratulations and apologies again – I thought it was strange you hadn’t been in touch but just assumed that you were on holiday.”

Wow! Not one award but three!! This kind of thing just does not happen unless it’s a tear-jerker movie ;0

I had diligently checked my spam filters and there was nothing there so I’ll assume my email address was improperly entered from my entree form.

Luckily the late notice did not change anything in regards to possibly attending the Festival (at this point only 2 days away). I had decided that unless I won Best in Show the expense could not justify a trip twice in two years. So perhaps it was for the best I didn’t have to agonize (if I had gotten my notice the previous Friday). The only downside: Any Gold winning marmalade has the right to sell up to about 50 jars at the Festival store. Great publicity. This, sadly, was impossible as with the delayed notice there was no way of getting any jars there in time.

Jenny did contact me after the festival to say that the sample they had from me was tasted by the public, was very greatly appreciated and there was disappointment that it was not available for purchase.
So there you go. I now have three awards in my first two tries. I’ll try for Double Gold next year ;)

This year’s winner: A craft beer based Seville marmalade made by a 70 year old lady that by all accounts was delicious. Go figure. I thought I was out there with a Pink Grapefruit and Blood Orange combo.
By the way, I’ll be focusing on producing the Seville with Whisky for a while and will not have much time to make the Grapefruit Blood Orange….sorry.

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  1. Congrats to Chris, very well done!

    2 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      Also of interest to local Hounds, I just heard that he is opening a French bakery café called Batârd this spring on Fraser next to Earnest Ice Cream. It will be good to have access to his breads at a brick and mortar again, and I'm looking forward to seeing what other goodies he'll have on offer.

      1. re: grayelf

        Holy crumbs, that's excellent news! This 'hood will clearly be my new "cheat day" destination...

    2. All of this is good and exciting news! Looking forward to hearing and seeing more from Chris Brown.

      1. AS LONG AS HE LEAVES RIRI ALONE GOD BLESS HIM!