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The Gold Ribbon Certificate: Quality and Transparency in Hungarian Gastronomy

In 2013, the Hungarian Gastrononomic Association (MGE) created a certificate to award high quality artisan products, in order to encourage manufacturing and purchasing goods of the highest quality, known as the Arany Szalag, or ‘Gold Ribbon.’

It is important to note that the award doesn’t refer to strict requirements imposed by authorities, nor does it deal with food safety; rather, the Gold Ribbon is meant to recognize commitments undertaken by producers that lead to high-level artisan products. The idea is that cuisine is an art deeply rooted in local terroir, meaning that high-quality domestic ingredients are essential.

A Golden Ribbon product must be able to be clearly distinguished from the serial products, meaning that tests are indispensable. The award jury is made up of chefs, independent experts and consumers. They test regularly and often, and results are published on Hungarian site of French restaurant guide Gault Millau. The certificate aims to protect both the manufacturer and consumer, as well as to encourage the manufacturing and the purchase of quality products.

Logo of the Gold Ribbon certificate. Image: Gault Millau

This year, the Gold Ribbon Certificate was awarded to the eggs produced by the Heppenheimer family, while quail from the southern Hungarian town of Sellye was announced as a candidate for next year. And since steady, sustained quality is one of the most important aspects of the award, the Association decided for the first time to suspend the certificate of Mastergood farm chicken, due to a reported “deterioration in flavor”, as well as problems reported with refrigeration and packing.

The Gold Ribbon award is, in many ways, part of a larger trend working toward the reformation and revitalization of Hungarian gastronomy. The first phase of this reform came in 2007, when a ‘Culinary Charta’ signed by over a hundred public figures from various professional and ideological backgrounds proclaimed that “If any negative trend can be reversed, it must be reversed”.  In a recent interview, MGE founder and president Tamás B. Molnár said that, to this day, quality ingredients in Hungary remain in short supply, while imports are expensive. He noted that the situation is improving, but added that restaurants and manufacturers still often face difficulties in sourcing affordable and quality ingredients.

via gaultmillau.hu image via Gault Millau