Thursday, November 10, 2005

World Food Media Awards

Another day, another 'Oscar's of the industry' headline. This time it is the World Food Media Awards, or, as the press release titles prefer it, the World Food and Drink 'Oscars'. Now while the real 'Oscars' (the Academy Awards) might try hard to protect (via trademark and other legal methods) the name and design of their famous awards, the truth is that headlines such as 'the 'Oscars' of the food and drink industry' only serve to underscore the pre-eminent position of the Academy Awards. After all, there's no such thing as bad publicity, and these constant references to the 'Oscars' do no harm in spreading the reach, and esteemed status, of these industry awards. So editors and PR writers seem free to use the phrase with impunity, and lets face it, it does convey an immediate identity and gravitas to each awards event labelled 'the Oscars of the industry'. In this case, the World Food Media Awards were held in Adelaide, Australia, and sought to recognise and reward outstanding performance in the global food and drink industry. The awards were sponsored by Wolf Blass wines and a total of 30 gold 'Ladle' awards were presented. The World Food Media Awards are held every two years as part of the Tasting Australia festival. Among the highlights of the awards was the record four nominations for British food and travel writer, and photographer, Alastair Hendy. He received two Ladles, for Best Food Photography and for Best Food Journalist. Belgian photographer Tony Le Duc accepted three gold Ladles as the photographer of three gold-winning titles: Poisson & Vin by Marc Declercq (Best Hard Cover Recipe Book RRP over US$25); Fine Chocolates, Great Experience by Jean Pierre-Wybauw (Best Professional Cookery Book); and La Base (Best Hard Cover Recipe Book RRP under US$25). Publisher Dorling Kindersley took four gold Ladles, for Best Children's Cookbook, Best Drink Book, Best Food Guide Book and Best Health and Nutrition Book. Other categories for awards included Best Television Food and Drink Show (long- and short-form) and further awards for magazines, newspapers, web sites and guide books. By concentrating on food and drink related media formats, rather than the actual providers of food and drink, these awards appeal to companies that thrive on publicity and are thereby more likely, and able, to spread the news of the awards. It also removes much of the subjectivity that judging restaurants or wines can bring, and, crucially, creates a more easily managed global awards scheme. Speaking about the awards, Chairman of the Jury, Ian Parmenter said: "The breadth of work and professionalism of entries in the 2005 awards has been exceptional. Close to 1,000 items of work were judged by a panel of 49 respected international jurors. While most entries were from the English-speaking world, it was refreshing to see such a high level of achievement from Belgium." He continued: "It is hoped that for future competitions, we can attract entries from an ever-expanding food and drink publishing market place."