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Michelin Star Chef Rory Carville opens BLÁS Restaurant in Donegal Town

The Blás Restaurant, at The Gateway Lodge in Donegal Town, offers a modern new Taste of Donegal.  In 2015, Seamus Quinn from Donegal Town, the successful owner of Quinn Construction in London, purchased an historic building, in a great location, in Donegal Town. He wanted to make significant changes to the property and working with local company, Paul Doherty Architects, they not only extended the building, but completely renovated the interior, giving the house and hostel a new sleek and modern feel. 

Seamus Quinn brought almost twenty Donegal men (who work for him in London) back home for three months, to refurbish the hostel, chalets and restaurant, adding a new modern lobby, re-roofing the existing building, re-facing the main entrance and extended the car parking to include modern camper facilities.

Seamus then went looking for the best chef he could find, to open a new restaurant in Donegal Town.

Michelin starred chef, Rory Carville, was looking to open a new restaurant at the same time!

Rory Carville, Head Chef at the new Blás Restaurant at The Gateway Lodge, in Donegal Town
Rory Carville, from Castleblayney in County Monaghan, graduated from Killybegs Catering College in 2000, where he also happened to meet his wife, Erin. His final placement from college was at the Limetree Restaurant in the Park Hotel in Kenmare and after that he moved to Dublin, spending three years with Terry White at the Four Seasons Hotel.

He then joined Derry Clarke's team in l'Ecrivain, in Dublin, for two and a half years. Rory then worked for a year in Chapter One under Ross Lewis and while he was there Derry rang him up to see if he'd like to work for the summer on a yacht (belonging to a business partner) in the south of France. Around this time Rory had been working on a new venture with Dylan McGrath, but that fell through, so he jumped at this opportunity.

Michelin Chef Rory Carville with Marian and Seamus Quinn at Blás Restaurant, Donegal Town
Rory came back from France in September 2010, when he was offered the job of opening up Locks Brasserie, on the canal in Dublin. He spent three years at Locks, winning his first Michelin Star along with numerous other awards.

"Winning a Michelin Star takes a lot of hard work and dedication from a chef and his whole team, putting in long hours and intense concentration." says Rory. "It's great for business but it's a different kind of pressure as your cooking to satisfy a different kind of clientele. And there are so many great restaurants now in Dublin that the competition is very tight."

Daniel Cavan, sous chef at Blás Restaurant in Donegal Town
Rory Carville is joined in the new Blás kitchen by his sous-chef, Daniel Cavan. Daniel, originally from Dumbarton in Scotland, is one of those young chefs who lives for food. He is passionate and capable and he really loves his career as a chef. 

Rory's plans for Blás Restaurant are to keep it simple, tasty, rustic and he describes his food as modern Irish, with a bit of a twist

Velvet Cloud Sheep's Yogurt with Dandelion Honey & Chive at Blás Restaurant

"I love cooking great fish and I really like cooking slow cuts of meat and working new flavoursome ways of cooking vegetables" he says. He also has a great passion for sourcing local, as he explains, "I'm working with local butcher Marty Walsh for all of my beef. I'm using all the local suppliers and everything on the menu here comes from within a twenty-mile radius of Donegal Town. All our fish is coming in from Killybegs. I also do a lot of foraging for mushrooms, wild garlic and home grown herbs."

Finishing off a dish of John Dory and Organic Broccoli 
Rory says he is delighted to be part of the northwest's modern food scene and gives credit to how food in the best restaurants around County Donegal is easily comparable to any of the top restaurants around Ireland.

The bedrooms have been totally refurbished at the Gateway Lodge in Donegal Town

"Things are changing in the Irish restaurant scene these days. Chefs are getting back to basics and working with their local food producers now, more than they ever did, but producing a modern original Irish Cuisine style." says Rory. "It's brilliant for the food producers, the restaurants but ultimately it's great for our customers."

The Chalets at the Gateway Lodge have also been completely refurbished

Blás at the Gateway Lodge is becoming a another success story in accommodation and dining in Donegal Town. It's success is down to the passion of it's owner, in creating a place that reflects it's heritage while looking to the future and a passionate chef, who understands that locally sourced food is the best way for people to truly understand the location they are in.

Official Opening Night at Rory Carville's new Blás Restaurant in Donegal Town was brilliant!
Blás at The Gateway Lodge offers you "a place on a plate" in one sitting and Rory also says he hopes that Blás will be the first Michelin approved restaurant in the northwest of Ireland.

For bookings at Blás Restaurant & Guest Accommodation Tel: 00 353 74 9740405
Check it out on the Web:

You can follow Head Chef Rory Carville on Twitter
You can follow sous chef Daniel Cavan on Twitter

See also #TasteOfDonegal on Twitter


WIN Dinner for Two at the new Ramblers Restaurant in Ardara, Co. Donegal

Friends, folks and foodies from all Donegal gathered recently for the launch of “Ramblers Bar & Restaurant” at The Nesbitt Arms Hotel, in Ardara, County Donegal. The Nesbitt Arms is situated right in the middle of this beautiful wee town of Ardara, which is famous for it's Donegal fiddlers, it's hand-spun Tweed, it's excellent music festivals and it's warm and friendly community.

General Manager, Liam McGill, opened the night by thanking all who had turned out for the opening. "We are so proud to have a loyal and regular clientele here at the Nesbitt Arms. A town is quiet without a hotel but a hotel is nothing with out the town around it", he said.

"I'm delighted to welcome you all here to the opening of "Ramblers", our brand new Bar and Restaurant" said Liam. "I want to thank everyone who worked on the new build: John Fox and Hugh Boyle with all their staff, Micky Shallow and of course, Terry Murray who has practically lived in this room for the last two months!"

The Nesbitt Arms Hotel, Ardara, Co Donegal 

Liam also raised a glass and paid tribute to the late Conal Haughey (known to all as Mr. Ardara) who passed away recently, saying, "Conal was the head chef here in the Nesbitt Arms for over twenty years and he would surely have been delighted with the new Bar and Restaurant".

Entrance to the new Ramblers Restaurant and Bar

He then called on festival organiser and local hero, Stephen McCahill, who thanked the management of the Nesbitt Arms for their continued support in the town of Ardara.  He added that the presence of hotel was imperative for the success of the town.  Praising all involved with the design, building of the new Bar and Restaurant, and with a special mention to restaurant staff and head chef Francis Floyd, Stephen commented on the wonderful standard of the hotel with its new reception, ballroom and excellent food.

Irish Food
Fresh Fish is delivered from Killybegs everyday

Deirdre Mc Glone, owner of Harvey’s Point Hotel and Donegal Person of the Year 2016, gave a very eloquent speech praising the people of Ardara for their continued dedication and search for an excellence offering for visitors and guests to the area. "Ardara is the most amazing town. You have traditional music festivals and events almost every month, a great community spirit and the most wonderful natural surroundings here", she said. "No wonder Ardara was voted the Best Village to Live in Ireland!"

Irish FoodIrish Food
Head Chef, Francis Floyd, sources all his meats locally in County Donegal

Deirdre then officially launched Ramblers new Bar by pulling a pint of stout and serving the first glass of the new Sliabh Liag Whiskey and Claire McGill, Deputy GM of the Nesbitt Arms, then presented Deirdre with a beautiful Eddie Doherty Tweed Throw as a memento of this trip down to Ardara.

The Library section of the new Ramblers Restaurant and Bar

As is customary in Ardara, the locals and business owners turned out in great numbers to support this very fine new bar. “Traditional but kinda chic”, “cosy and comfortable with those lovely old heritage colours”, “classy & cosy” was how some of the locals described it.

Local Beers and Spirits from County Donegal are served in the new Restaurant and Bar

To Enter a new Competition and be in for a chance to WIN Dinner for Two at the new Ramblers Bar and Restaurant in Ardara, County Donegal, simply Like and Share The Nesbitt Arms Hotel on Facebook here:

telling them the person you'd like to bring along with you if you won.
(Sneaky Tip - If you've Liked this Page already, Unlike and Like Again to enter the competition)

The Winner will be announced on Friday 29th of July. Best of Luck everyone!


Enter the Foróige National Junior Baking Competition 2016

Foróige is the leading youth organisation in Ireland. The charity works with 54,000 young people and 5,500 adult volunteers annually, through a network of more than 600 youth clubs & cafés, 150-targeted projects and national programmes such as Citizenship, Entrepreneurship and Leadership.

ALDI are once again sponsoring this years' National Junior Baking Competition, in association with Foróige, the finals of which will take place in the Aldi Marquee at the National Ploughing Championships, and this year the theme for the baking competition is ‘Muffins of the Moment’.


The winner of the National Junior Baking Competition will win a €1,000 bursary to help them on their baking journey, as well as a trip for their local Foróige group to Delphi Adventure Centre in Co. Mayo.
In addition to this and for the first time in the National Junior Baking Competition, Aldi will be stocking the winning muffins – a huge achievement for any budding young baker!

How does the Competition work?

The qualifiers of The National Junior Baking Competition will be held nationally through youth organisation Foróige, in their 834 clubs and projects nationwide, with the regional finals taking place in late July. The National Semi Finals and Final will be held from 20th to 22nd September at the Aldi Marquee during the 2016 National Ploughing Championships in the new location of Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

County Level
The first stage of the competition will be at county level. These will be organised locally in each county to watch out for the local arrangements. There will be one winner per county, except in cases where there are more than 50 clubs in that county. In this instance, two county contestants will qualify for the Regional Final.

A county competition will be organised in each county as a stand-alone county event or will be organised as part of another event taking place in the county. Individual entrants will bring along their Muffins which they have baked themselves (see rules below) to be judged by a panel of judges.

To find your nearest Foroige Club and Contact Details Click HERE

Regional Level
There will be four regional finals - South, West, East and Midlands. Two winners from each region will qualify to compete in the semi-finals at the National Ploughing Championships in September 2016. At Regional level you will be baking on site using ingredients supplied by Aldi.

National Level and Finals
There will be two semi-final heats on 20th and 21st September. Again, semi finalists and finalists will be baking on site. The contestants placed first and second in each heat will qualify for the final on Thursday 22nd September, in the Aldi Ireland Tent at the National Ploughing Championships.

Who can enter?
The competition is open to any young person between the ages of 12 and 18 that are currently a member of a club, project (including Big Brother Big Sister), or youth service in Foróige.
The theme of the National Junior Baking Competition this year is ‘Muffins of the Moment’ and the judges are anticipating some amazing creations from the wealth of talented young bakers around the country.

The Rules:
  1. This competition is for individual entrants only.
  2. Participants must still be 18 or less on the 22nd of September 2016, the day of the final of the competition.
  3. For the county competition each competitor will bring their Muffins, made by them. Should they progress to the regional event they will be required to bake more on site.
  4. Each club or project group may submit only one entry. If more than one person in a group is interested, it is up to the club or group to decide how to choose one.
  5. Bakers must produce their goods without help from others.
  6. Ingredients must be purchased from Aldi – and each baker may spend a maximum of €20 on ingredients. Here is a link to the Aldi website where you can see all their products. 
  7. Entrants in county competitions must be available to attend and compete in the Regional finals (late July) and the National Finals (20th to 22nd September), if they get through to each.
  8. For the National Semi-Finals and Final, competitors will be obliged to use the ingredients supplied by Aldi Ireland.
  9. Competitors in the regional and national events must bring their own baking tins.
  10. The judges’ decision in all competitions is final and binding on all competitors and the fact of entering shall be deemed an acceptance of this rule.
(Immediate families of Foróige managers and employees and the directors managers and employees and the immediate families of other Promoters or the agencies or companies associated with this promotion are ineligible to enter.)

Any other enquiries should be directed to

So Get Baking and the Best of Success to all who enter!

Connect with the new 2016 Failte Ireland Food Champions

Fáilte Ireland today announced the names of 16 new emerging food champions who will represent the importance of food to tourism and visitors to Ireland. They will join six existing food champions as part of the Food Tourism Network Development programme. The group will work together with their local community to help build Ireland’s food tourism reputation, sourcing and activating ideas to encourage visitors to stop more, spend more and stay longer.

These new food champions were chosen from over 400 nominations following a detailed selection process. The tourism authority had sought nominations for emerging food champions with a resounding passion and belief in Irish food who actively influence and shape the future of Irish cuisine and food tourism in their region.

All those selected come from a wide variety of backgrounds and they all have different roles in the championing of Irish food. But they are united by their immense pride and their absolute conviction in Ireland’s food tourism potential. They want to shout from the rooftops that Ireland has a unique food experience; one that is honest and authentic, one that is as much about the people as it is about the product and the recipes. But they also want to educate, develop, connect the dots, to ensure that what we promise is what we deliver.

Fáilte Ireland’s new 2016 Food Champions
(front row, l to r) Jacinta Dalton, Gabriel Faherty, Olivia Duff, Ketty Elisabeth, Garrett Fitzgerald, Chris Molloy, Ruth Healy and Brid Torrades. (Back row, l to r) Kevin Ahern, Seáneen Sullivan, Claire Dalton, Tom Flavin, Judith Boyle, Ivan Varian, Aine Maguire, Pádraic Óg Gallagher, Patrick Ryan, John Relihan, Anthony O’Toole and Niall Sabongi. Photograph: Pat Moore

Each of these people has intimate knowledge of their own region and the food and food producers operating in their area. They are an essential local connection to what is happening on the ground - they are mediators, they are disseminators and they are all excellent communicators.

Failte Ireland's Food Champions are helping to tell Ireland’s Food Story.

I have listed the new Food Champions here with a Follow button to all their Twitter accounts so that you can connect with them and listen and learn about the food activities in the different regions of Ireland's Ancient East, Dublin City and County and The Wild Atlantic Way.

The 2016 Failte Ireland Food Champions on Ireland's Ancient East are:

Anthony O'Toole Anthony O’Toole (New) Culinarian Press, Ferns, WEXFORD

Claire Dalton Claire Dalton (New) Dungarvan Brewing, WATERFORD

Gearoid Lynch Gearóid Lynch (New) The Olde Post Inn, Cloverhill, CAVAN

Judith Boyle Judith Boyle (New) Beer Sommelier, Publican, KILDARE

Patrick Ryan Patrick Ryan (New) Firehouse Bakery, Delgany, WICKLOW

John Relihan John Relihan (New) Holy Smoke, CORK

Kevin Ahern Kevin Ahern (New) Sage Midleton, CORK

Olivia Duff Olivia Duff (Existing) The Headfort Arms Hotel, MEATH

The 2016 Failte Ireland Food Champions in Dublin:

Garrett Fitzgerald Garrett Fitzgerald (New) Brother Hubbard, Capel Street, DUBLIN

  Ivan Varian (New) Dalkey Food Company, Dalkey, DUBLIN

Niall Sabongi Niall Sabongi (New) Klaw Restaurant, Temple Bar, DUBLIN

Ketty Elisabeth Ketty Elisabeth (New) French Foodie in Dublin Ltd, DUBLIN

 Seáneen Sullivan (New) L. Mulligan Grocer, Stoneybatter, DUBLIN

Portrait of Padraig Og Gallagher Pádraic Óg Gallagher (Existing) The Boxty House, Temple Bar, DUBLIN

The 2016 Failte Ireland Food Champions on the Wild Atlantic Way:

Aine Maguire Áine Maguire (New) The Idle Wall, Westport, MAYO

Gabriel Flaherty Gabriel Faherty (New) Aran Islands Goats Cheese, Aran Islands,  GALWAY

Christopher Molloy Chris Molloy (New) The Lemon Tree, Letterkenny, DONEGAL

Portrait of Tom Flavin Tom Flavin (New) The Strand Hotel, LIMERICK

Mark Murphy Mark Murphy (Existing) Dingle Cookery School, Dingle, KERRY

Jacinta Dalton - Food Champion of Ireland Jacinta Dalton (Existing) Dept of Culinary Arts, GMIT, GALWAY

Portrait of Ruth Healy Ruth Healy (Existing) Urru Culinary Store, CORK

Brid Torrades - Food Champion of Ireland Brid Torrades (Existing) Osta Cafe, SLIGO

The Food Ambassadors continue to help to spread the vision and values of Irish food tourism among visitors, media, food tourism businesses, and other stakeholders. They are leaders in the food scene in Ireland and internationally. All are widely known and well regarded in Ireland’s food community and use their reputation and profile to help further develop food tourism in Ireland.

You can Follow Failte Ireland on Twitter here:  

For more details on each of the new 2016 Failte Ireland Food Champions (and details of the existing Failte Ireland Food Ambassadors) click here:

All these people are united by a strong belief in Ireland’s immense food tourism potential and their desire to help spread the word that Food Tourism is a vital part of the Future of Irish Tourism.

You can Follow me (Irish Food Guide) on Twitter here:   

I'm proud to know many of the new Food Champions and I'm looking forward to meeting up with the people that I haven't met yet, over the next year. Congrats to all selected. Having been part of the Food Champion program myself,  I know you'll definitely have an wonderful and interesting year ahead!


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The Irish Food Guide Blog includes news, foodie chat, recipes, award results, links and other general information on the Food & Tourism Industry in Ireland.

It is written & curated by Zack Gallagher, Donegal Town, Co Donegal, Ireland.

“My Blog is a slice of the Irish Food ‘Network’. I’m a Chef with over 27 years experience and also have a background in media. I’m passionate about Irish Food Tourism and I believe that a rising tide really can lift all boats!”

Supporting Irish Food created by passionate producers and encouraging the Irish food & hospitality industry to use modern social media methods to increase their business.

Zack is building an all-Ireland Food Tourism network to assist Tour Operators bringing guests into Ireland to connect easily with artisan Irish food producers, so as they can experience the provenance and personality behind our Irish food Visit

The Wild Atlantic Way is the world's Longest Coastal Route