THE Chateau Impney Hotel in Droitwich has appointed the country’s first taster in residence, after a competition to find the finest palate in the area.

The passionate foodie who came out on top is Lisa Gallagher, a 37-year-old local government officer from Bromsgrove, who defeated seven other finalists in a series of head-to-head tasting battles to claim the title.

The hotel conducted a two-month long search for someone with refined taste to take up the position, challenging applicants to taste and analyse a number of dishes, before correctly identifying as many ingredients as possible.

Ms Gallagher will now go on to work with the hotel’s executive chef Stephen Unwin, and his team on a monthly basis, providing independent feedback on dishes at the hotel develops them.

She said: “I was a little nervous at the beginning of the taste battles. When the first dish was brought in, my mind went blank, but as I relaxed and concentrated on the flavours and the aromas, it all came together. It was a tough competition, but the dishes really played to my strengths, so I was able to identify a lot of the ingredients in the short time provided.”

Ms Gallagher has travelled to the Far East, Australasia and the United States, where she has sampled everything from Thai and Malaysian cuisine to food from some of the best restaurants in Sydney and New York.

She added: “Being the UK’s first taster in residence is a fantastic opportunity, and I hope to embrace it as much as possible. I’m thoroughly looking forward to my first taste feedback session, and I’m excited to work with Stephen and his team throughout the year.”

Ben Elder, Chateau Impney’s general manager, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to appoint Lisa as not only our first taster in residence, but the nation’s as well. Although every finalist had a wealth of experience and an astounding amount of food knowledge, Lisa demonstrated a keen passion for good food and great flavours that stood head-and-shoulders above the rest.”