Our Children’s category judging is organised each year for us by the wonderful Christine Bailey who gathers together a group of food allergic / intolerant or coeliac children and teens from among her patients. They all come to her house and we pile down with the products and all the judging paraphernalia. And very serious and conscientious judges they are too – as you can see. (This is Ethan tasting a chocolate entry.)
Our judges ranged from six years old to 15 and while they have a range of sensitivities between them, they are all either coeliac or wheat intolerant.
We follow exactly the same protocol as for the adult judging sessions: they have to taste all the products in silence and make their own notes about them including a mark out of ten. Then we add up all the marks and discuss whether the marks really reflect who they think should win.
Christine is very insistent that parents are banished to another room so that they cannot influence the children, and that the latter should say and write exactly what they want. And they do!! ‘WOW!!!!!!!!!!’ ‘I HATE that….’ ‘YUUM! YUUUUM! YUUUUMMM!!’
(This is Charlotte and Eleanor, by the way, also considering that bit of chocolate.)
They are also very polarised in their likes and dislikes.The majority of the products they either LOVED or HATED with relatively few getting middling marks. Maybe surprisingly, they do not have particularly sweet teeth either with the savoury products getting as high a ranking as the sweet ones.
However, today’s judging session was not all about sitting round tasting and giving marks as one of the entries was a ‘freefrom’ cake mix especially designed for quite young children to make up themselves.
So before we got down to any serious tasting, everyone piled into Christine’s kitchen where they were divided into three groups; the two 15-year olds, Christine’s coeliac son, Nathan and his mate Josh taking charge of two younger boys each and the two girls, Charlotte and Eleanor managing the third group.
Here is Josh with Isaac and Luke adding the oil to the mix.
And here are Ben, Ethan and Nathan breaking the egg to go in.
And here are Eleanor, Charlotte, Simeon and Oscar making up their mix down the other end of the table.
Once the mixes were mixed they were, somewhat messily, spooned into the muffin cases and popped into the oven while everyone went and tasted the other entries. Then, once the muffins were cooked, they had to be iced! A gloriously messy business in which everyone got involved, including Christine!
Then it was back into the judging room, everyone with a cup cake of course, to decide on the winners, the highly commendeds and the commendeds – and wouldn’t you all like to know who they were…
But of course, like the children, I am sworn to secrecy until March 25th! Although you will get some inkling when the shortlist is published on February 12th.
And I will leave you with a picture of Simeon writing up his comments (I wonder if he is that focused when it comes to homework….) and one of him and Oscar watching the icing going on to those cupcakes and imagining them slipping down their throats….