A food manufacturer is celebrating recognition in a big UK competition.
Angelica Belle’s amaretti cookies won top prizes at the Great Taste Awards, an Oscars-style event in the UK in which there are more than 14,000 entries from 109 countries.
Both the lemon and orange amaretti cookies, made with Manx free range eggs, won a two-star award each while the plant-based cookie won a one-star.
‘It was a great coup for us,’ said Chris Worsfold, who runs the company with his wife Andrea Ashton-Worsfold. ‘This allows us to get out to the world market, not just the Isle of Man.’
The judges blind tested. They had no idea where the products came from nor who made them.
Last year the company exhibited with Fynoderee Distillery and Isle of Man Creameries at an event at a food expo at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.
Retailers, including Tesco and Fortnum and Mason, were represented. With the new accolades, it might make it easier to interest big companies into selling them.
As it is, the company, which is named after the nicknames the couple gave to to their classic cars – an MG TC built in 1948 and a 1954 Austin-Healey BN1, sell via mail order and in Robinson’s, Woodbourne Deli, the Good Health Shop and now on the Steam Packet’s new vessel, the Manxman.
He said that it was quite amazing how many people now recognise the cookies from the Steam Packet sailings.
The shelf-life of the cookies is six weeks but Chris said he hoped that an innovation could mean that would be extended to six months.
Currently, all the packaging the company uses is recyclable and sustainable.
But packaging that can keep food fresher for longer cannot be recycled.
Now he is in talks with a company that might be able to produce recyclable packaging that will keep the food fresh for longer – and that means markets much further afield might be in reach.
Chris said that last weekend’s Food and Drink Festival was a good place to showcase the company’s products.
‘This is the only show for food producers to reach the Isle of Man. We did extremely well this year.’
One market that Chris thinks the industry as a whole could tap into more is cruise ship visitors.
‘It would be really nice to work with the Department of the Environment, Food and Farming and other organisations to exploit what we have here.’
He said that there were now about 32,000 passengers and many want a souvenir of the island when they visit.
So how did they get involved?
The couple, who have captained superyachts for 25 years and have lived in Fistard, Port St Mary, for 20 years, couldn’t do their job during the pandemic.
‘We are not people who sit around doing nothing. We wanted to create something.’
Andrea is an award-winning professional chef and created the products in the fisherman’s cottage where they live.
The company came up with a number of products – and it’s not just food.
It also produces food, candles and diffusers and Andrea also gives cookery demonstrations.
They have learned that our island status does have a lot of pluses but there is a big minus for the company. It’s the cost of fuel.
Chris Worsfold of Angelica Belle said: ‘We try to keep our costs down as much as possible. But the biggest challenge is getting off the island. It’s not a level playing field with the UK.’
He said small companies like his were badly affected.
The change in postal arrangements – now that the post plane is a thing of the past - means there might be problems for mail order too.