Seated at a table with two other jury members, I dipped my little spoon into a stemmed glass filled with a brightly colored oil, seasoned with chili peppers and rosemary. The colza (canola) oil had a smooth texture with lots of heat. After much consideration, I wrote down a score for each of the four categories: apparence (appearance); odeur (smell); arôme, goût et texture (flavor, taste and texture); and impression génerale (general impression).
Where was I? At the Fondation Rural Interjurassienne (FRI), near Delémont in the Jura canton. For the first time, I had the honor of serving as a jury member for the Concours Suisse des Produits du Terroir.
What is the Concours Suisse des Produits du Terroir?
In its 7th year, and occurring every other year, the Concours Suisse des Produits du Terroir gives producers from all over Switzerland the chance to receive feedback and earn prizes for their food products. This national food competition culminates with a local food market to be held on Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1 at FRI Courtemelon in the town of Courtételle. Featuring the award-winning products at nearly 200 food stands (tickets: CHF 12 for a 2-day pass), you will also find workshops, demonstrations, restaurants and more on site during this event. The 2017 guests of honor are the Swiss canton of Aargau and Alsace region of France.
The goal of the Concours Suisse des Produits du Terroir is to make a direct connection between consumers and local food producers in Switzerland. At the public market, you can taste and purchase some of the best Swiss food products. In 2015, this market drew more than 15,000 visitors to FRI Courtemelon.
How are the regional food products evaluated?
For 2017, the judging of these regional foods started on September 6 and ends on September 22. Jury members taste and score the food products, which can then qualify for a bronze, silver or gold medal. Each small group of jury members has three members: an expert, a producer and a consumer. I served as the consumer for our group.
For those products that earn a perfect score of 20, they have the opportunity to earn the title of “produit d’excellence” (product of excellence) — an award designated by a separate jury of Swiss specialists who represent each of the five categories.
- Category A – Produits laitiers (dairy products)
- Category B – Produits boulangers & pâtissiers (bakery and pastry products)
- Category C – Produits carnés et produits de la pêche (meat and fish products)
- Category D – Produits fruits, légumes, miel et divers (fruit , vegetables, honey and miscellaneous products)
- Category E – Boissons alcoolisées (alcoholic beverages)
During the first day of judging, I tasted three types of products within Category D — fruit, vegetable, honey and other miscellaneous products. Overall, my group had three types of food products during our daylong judging duties: jam and jelly, vinegar and oil. It was a fascinating experience and a pleasure to try the different products and come to a consensus with the other jury members. Our scores were entered directly online by the secretary of our small group — a first for this year’s competition, which expedited the scoring process.
I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s Concours Suisse des Produits du Terroir, which will be officially announced at the public market on Saturday, September 30 at 7:00 p.m.
For more information:
- Concours Suisse des Produits du Terroir (official website)
- Concours Suisse des Produits du Terroir (Facebook page)
- “La technologie au service des papilles,” RFJ – Radio fréquence Jura (September 6, 2017). You can see a photo of yours truly and my fellow jury members, as well as listen to an interview about the competition in French.