The anticipation reached a fever pitch as Cyprus braced itself for the grand culmination of the year-long journey celebrating its prodigious producers. The date was set for yesterday, June 27, when the Cultural Centre in Strovolos Municipality transformed into a buzzing nexus of elegance and distinction, hosting the highly coveted 2023 Quality Awards, jointly presented by renowned publications "Gastronomos" and "Kathimerini." This annual extravaganza, now in its 9th edition, spotlighted ten extraordinary Cypriot producers who emerged as pioneers, overcoming formidable odds while upholding unwavering dedication to consumers, environmental harmony, and preserving nature's treasures. From a staggering 70 impeccable Cypriot products, precisely tasted without bias, the discerning "K" tasting committee unveiled the crème de la crème across ten captivating categories.
One of the event sponsors, Theodosis Theodosiou, the Retail Banking Director at the Bank of Cyprus, extended a warm welcome to the evening.
“We are delighted to have the Bank of Cyprus supporting this annual celebration that recognizes and rewards Cypriot producers. It is a privilege for us to back this event, where these producers proudly showcase the products that represent our nation. As of May 2023, the bank has provided 103 million in loans to small and medium-sized enterprises, with an additional 202 million granted in 2022. Our support for the producers stems from our commitment to fostering economic development and job creation, preserving our cultural heritage, and promoting environmental sustainability through sustainable products,” Theodosiou expressed.
Deeply moved, Demetris Lottides, the CEO of Kathimerini, expressed his overwhelming emotions as he proposed to Former Minister of Finance, Konstantinos Petrides to assume the role of head of the tasting committee at the Gastronomos Awards starting next year.
"Year after year, we have witnessed remarkable advancements and dedicated efforts in both production itself and the shift in consumer preferences toward Cypriot products"
“Our journey with the awards began in 2014, driven by the purpose of supporting Cypriot production and shining a light on those individuals who often go unnoticed, the ones unfamiliar to the bustling city of Nicosia. At the outset, when we approached the Bank of Cyprus, we made no grand promises; our sole commitment was to showcase the untapped wealth of our country. The bank graciously opened its checkbook, and although it is customary to offer assurances to sponsors, it was not a mere formality in this particular case. The times were challenging, yet each year since then, we have witnessed steady progress in the primary sector,” Demetris Lottides said.
“In 2014, we owed a debt of gratitude to the wisdom of Mother Kathimerini, which significantly shaped the landscape of primary production. Year after year, we have witnessed remarkable advancements and dedicated efforts in both production itself and the shift in consumer preferences toward Cypriot products. Cast your mind back to 2015, when it was considered somewhat derogatory to serve Cypriot wines in Nicosia's restaurants or place orders from wineries in Paphos. Today, we stand proud as Cypriot wine has firmly established itself in the realm of increasing exports, and our beloved halloumi cheese exports are projected to exceed 40 million units,” he added.
The Gastronomos Awards 2023 proved to be an exhilarating event, offering a unique opportunity for two winners to embark on a captivating journey to beautiful Greece through an engaging search contest. Following the conclusion of the award nominations, the public was invited to indulge in a delectable buffet of miniature gastronomic delights, expertly crafted using the winning products. These exquisite dishes served as a true delight for food enthusiasts, providing a gourmet experience like no other.
Everyone savored the most sublime flavors, as the spotlight shined on achievements in Halloumi, Traditional Products, Olive Oil Production, Red Wines, White Wine, Excellent Quality, Creative Cypriot Cuisine, Sustainable Development, and the Honorary Award. The illustrious Bank of Cyprus took center stage as the proud sponsor, joining forces with Sklavenitis stores, fervently supporting Cypriot Producers, while OPAP Cyprus assumed the mantle of culture's guardian and Epic strode forward as a stalwart advocate of Sustainable Development. With the unwavering support of the Municipality of Strovolos, this extraordinary event succeeded in unveiling the essence of Cyprus, where resilience and brilliance converged to form an enduring legacy.