Northern Ireland takes UK Baker of the Year title
Northern Ireland's Robert Ditty has won the prestigious UK Baker of the Year title in the 2011 Baking Industry Awards.
The panel of judges described Ditty, who owns two home bakeries in Castledawson and Magherafelt, both based in County Londonderry, as a "beacon in the industry" and a real example of a hands-on baker, whose strong personality is indelibly stamped on his business.
The two artisan bakeries are renowned for their breads, including traditional Irish lines such as wheaten, brown soda, as well as soda farls and potato cakes. Added to the classic Irish lines are cakes and a successful line in savouries.
The Ditty family have owned the bakery since 1953 and grown it to be a successful retail and wholesale enterprise, with an international client list. Robert Ditty says: "This is a tremendous accolade for the business and an endorsement of the quality and variety of our breads. What I love most in my time in the bakery developing new and innovative products."
Robert Ditty took the title of Baker of the Year, sponsored by Vandemoortele, at the 2011 Baking Industry Awards, which took place at Park Lane Hilton, London.
The awards, organised by British Baker magazine, recognise achievement and professionalism across the baking industry, rewarding those companies and individuals who drive the industry forward. All winners are members of an exclusive group of the best of the best in the sector.
The Baking Industry Awards were launched in 1987 and over the past 24 years, have grown to be the most prestigious event in the baking industry calendar.
Ditty's products particularly the range of oatcakes are exported worldwide. The bakery uses local ingredients from other artisan producers including local farms and organic suppliers to offer a broad range of specialty biscuits, pastries, breads and savoury foods.
Ditty's has a thriving wholesale business that operates on a local, national and international level, supplying leading high-end retailers such as Waitrose, Fortnum and Mason and Paxton & Whitfield together with a number of other distributors and hamper companies across the UK and Ireland.
Ditty's oatcakes were also served at the State banquet in Dublin Castle to honour Queen Elizabeth during her state visit to the Republic of Ireland.