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Restaurant Association calls for immediate action on Chef Shortage crisis

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has again made calls for emergency measures to be implemented to solve the crisis shortage of chefs in Ireland. The RAI are again reiterating the need for the re-establishment of CERT, the former State Tourism Training Agency. 

Chief Executive of the RAI, Adrian Cummins commented, “Some restaurants across the country are being forced to close on Mondays and Tuesdays due to the shortage of chefs. It is interesting to note that the other large industries in Ireland such as agriculture and fishing have dedicated training centres around the country.”
The RAI says that there is still a crisis in the shortage of chefs in the country, and an investment in training is needed urgently. The organisation is calling on the Minister for Education Richard Bruton T.D. to re-establish CERT with immediate effect. Mr. Cummins continued “The hospitality and tourism industry is one of our most valuable assets. It is ludicrous that there are no training colleges for our industry in this country.”

Mr. Cummins commented on the new proposals, “The chef shortage in this country is an ongoing problem. The new apprenticeship proposals are a stepping stone in tackling the crisis but the re-establishment of CERT is the only solution.” The RAI state that the main skills shortages are among suitably qualified chefs. Shortages of commis chefs feed into shortages at higher and specialist levels. Among the applicants submitted for chef positions, many are deemed not to be appropriately qualified. This reflects the fact that there is not enough chef training centres. Currently 1800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes. There remains an immediate deficit of 5000 chef trainees annually.

The RAI recommends investment in management and the establishment of 10 new chef training centres nationally. CERT, the State Tourism Training Agency, was established in 1963. CERT was responsible for providing a trained workforce for the hotel, catering and tourism industry. It offered training courses for those wishing to pursue a career in this field and for employees in the industry who wanted to develop new skills. It was abolished in May 2003. Speaking about CERT, Mr Cummins said “CERT was fit for purpose and serviced the industry with skilled labour, it was held in very high esteem during its operational years.”

Irish workers account for 69% of employees in the Hospitality sector. This highlights the importance of the industry. Mr. Cummins continued, “We want to be able to market Ireland as a centre of food excellence, a true culinary experience with world-class chefs leading the way. Instead, we are finding ourselves in a position where we have a severe shortage of chefs in Ireland which is now threatening the success of the tourism industry’s recovery.”

You can contact the Restaurants Association of Ireland by Telephone on : +353 1 6779901

You know, it is actually OK to eat Sliced Bread!

I've been a professional chef for over thirty years and being a chef means that you have the opportunities to cook and eat some amazing food! I will eat anything (except prawns, crab and lobster, which I suddenly became allergic to, six years ago, after a lifetime of eating them without any problem). I still cook them by smell and memory, but I miss eating crab claws - terribly!

We have two kids and they certainly don't eat everything that I'd like them to. They're very typical to most children, when it comes to food and they can be cautious to trying new things. I know that will change when they're a little older, and that's ok! 

I started my first job at aged 13, in a local bakery and restaurant here in Donegal Town, working after school and summer holidays and I worked there for five years. It was this experience that helped form the basis for my wanting to become a chef. 

There's been a lot of debate recently about which type of bread, if any, is best for you and I now just want throw my two cents worth of opinion into this pot! 

I believe that (like any other food) it's not really about what you eat, its more about how much of it you eat! Bread is a good source of carbohydrate for growth, as well as vitamins and is generally low in fat and sugar. 

When it comes to bread and sandwiches in our house, we eat wholemeal brown, white or treacle soda bread, Indian meal (maize) bread, pancakes, sourdough and sliced white bread. We bake our own bread, mostly white soda bread or wholemeal brown bread, regularly. 

Most of the time our kids will go for wholemeal soda bread or sliced pan white bread. They will eat the sliced pan either plain, as a sandwich, toasted, or dipped in egg and fried as french toast. They spread it with butter, honey, marmalade, chocolate spread, peanut butter or strawberry jam - and sometimes a combination of several of these! 

And although I personally prefer the taste and the texture of a sourdough bread, there is nothing wrong with a white sliced pan although it does get some pretty bad press. Most of the negative argument against it is because the sliced pan is made in mass production units, from refined flour with the addition of enzymes, stabilisers and preservatives which extend its shelf life. The flour is normally re-fortified with B vitamins (thiamine and niacin) and minerals (iron and calcium), which are necessary for growing children.

Unfortified flours like T55, that are preferred for making slow fermented breads, also have enzymes (alpha and beta amylases) added, to help the natural lactobacilli bacteria break the starches in the flour down into more easily fermentable sugars for the yeasts to feed on, which creates carbon dioxide, which gives the bread it's rise. It's actually these increased levels of reducing sugars that lead to the formation in the baking process of products similar to maillard reactions (a bit like like caramelisation or the searing of a steak) which intensify the bread's flavour and crust colour, making sourdough for example, taste so good.

The quality of white sliced bread certainly does vary but at the end of the day, a white sliced pan isn’t trying to pretend that its anything other than what it is - a simple, cheap, sliced white bread.

My point is that there’s room for all kinds of bread. Not everyone wants to (or can) bake, not everyone has time to bake, not everyone has access to a local small bakery and not everyone likes sourdough, but people are free to make their own choices. 

Put simply, it is actually okay to eat ordinary sliced bread!

And that's simply my opinion. 

Closing Date for Entries for the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards 2017 is June 14th

Entries are about to close for the 2017 Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards.

Image result for blas na heireann 2017

The Blás na hÉireann Awards (which are now in their 10th year) take place alongside the Dingle Food Festival, in late September each year.

Last year there were more than 2500 entries in what are the largest blind-tasted Food Awards on the island of Ireland.

The 2016 Supreme Champion was the delicious Rós Rhubarb Cider from Stonewell Cider, Cork.

“Every product that carries a Finalist, Gold, Silver or Bronze sticker is picked up from a store shelf much more quickly than those without it,” said Artie Clifford, the Blás na hÉireann Awards Chairperson.

Artie Clifford, Chairperson and Founder of the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards

“Our research has shown that the Blás accreditation has the highest recognition among Irish consumers. Putting the Blás na hÉireann Award logo on your food packaging has made a significant difference to the businesses that have received a Blás Award," added Artie.

The closing date for the Blás na hÉireann Irish Food Awards 2017 entries is June 14th.

To enter your amazing Irish Food product go to Today!


Don't Miss the Coolest Foodie Break in Ireland on May 21st

I'm delighted to announce our first Donegal Food Tour in collaboration with Harvey's Point Hotel, run by the wonderful Deirdre Gysling and her husband, Marc! We will explore some of the best in local and seasonal food and drink, on a food tour that involves a visit to a master bakery, a craft brewery and a fishing trip on Donegal Bay.

Harvey's Point Hotel nestled at the bottom of the Bluestack Mountains just outside Donegal Town

Harveys Point is a multi-award-winning fabulous hotel located on the shores of Lough Eske (just outside Donegal Town) and nestled cosily under the Bluestack Mountains! This special Irish Food Tour break is running from Sunday 21st May through to Tuesday 23rd May, with cookery demonstrations, foodie discussions, wine tasting and three different dining options to enjoy at Harvey’s Point Hotel.

Owners of Harvey's Point and fabulous food lovers, Deirdre & Marc Gysling

The Monday of the stay-over package is completely devoted to a great day out of Donegal food related activities!

Monday's Food Tour is going to be brilliant fun and learning and the full itinerary is as follows:

Following a leisurely breakfast overlooking Lough Eske, meet up with me, Zack, (I'll be your personal guide for the day) and I'll tell you all about the growth of artisan food and food tourism, we'll share some chat about Donegal foodie things, meet some wonderful people and get to enjoy a real taste of Donegal!

Our first visit of the day is to our good friend and Master Baker, Franck Pasquier, at the Donegal Craft Bakery.

Franck will take us through the process and history of sourdough, slow fermentation for bread-making. You will also get the opportunity to learn some of the tricks of the trade and how the different bread types are produced. Tastings of Franck’s savoury and sweet bread varieties will be provided!

Onwards then to Ballyshannon, Ireland’s oldest town and the birthplace of the famous blues guitarist Rory Gallagher (no relation), for a visit to the Donegal Craft Brewing Company.

Owner Brendan (Dicey) O’Reilly and Master Brewer, Patrick, will take us through the process of making craft beer from start to finish and there’ll be samples of his famous Donegal Blonde and other beers too!

Back on the coach again for a twenty minute drive to Donegal Town and Donegal Charters. At the Pier, we'll board the fully licenced 8-metre fishing vessel, “Donna Marie”, owned and operated by local skipper (and my cousin) Paul Ricketts, who is also s chef, for a trip out on Donegal Bay.

We’ll pass the seal colony at Seal Island and the old Coastguard Station, an embarkation point of emigrants during the Famine years. Paul will bring us out to where he fishes his Lobster Pots and you will experience first-hand how Lobster is caught! We'll also be cooking and eating some fresh seafood on the boat’s built-in barbeque!

A visit to The Irish House on the Diamond in Donegal Town for an Irish Coffee and some weaving
Catriona's dad, Denis Mulhearn, is a fifth generation Donegal weaver

The Irish House produce and offer authentic Irish made products that represent the best of Donegal & Irish made Tweed clothing and Crafts in the tradition of their forefathers and in doing so, support and promote many local businesses. Catriona and her family will offer a complimentary Irish Coffee and will talk us through the history and process of Donegal Tweed making.

Board the coach for a visit to the famous Biddy’s O' Barnes Roadside Tavern.

Biddy's O'Barnes is a famous roadside Pub in Barnesmore Gap, Co. Donegal, Ireland. Since it's days as an Inn, dating back to the 18th century, a time when the Coach was the main form of transport, Biddy's was a stopping point, where horses were rested, and travellers relaxed before the next stage of their long and tiring journey through the Gap. Today we continue that tradition before heading back to Harvey’s Point where you will have time to freshen up before dinner.

The Total weekend foodie break package includes:

• Three night stay in a Lodge Cabin at Harveys Point Hotel
• Three Full Irish Breakfast Feasts
• Sunday Carvery Lunch Banquet
• The Donegal Food Tour with Zack Gallagher
• Dinner on one evening of your choice in Harveys Point's award winning Lakeside Restaurant
• A Cooking Demonstration with Wine Tasting on Tuesday
• Homemade cookies and fresh fruit on arrival
• Free WIFI & Car Parking

And this only costs €318 per person sharing,
for absolutely everything!

This special Irish Food Tour break is running from Sunday 21st May through to Tuesday 23rd May and Numbers are Limited so, to Book go to: 
or call Harvey's Point Hotel, today, on +353 (0)74 97 22208

I look forward to welcoming you all to Donegal and sharing our Donegal Food story!


Finals of Ireland's Apprentice Chef take place on 11th May

On Thursday 11th May, secondary school students will get stirring to complete the final service in the 2017 Flogas Ireland and Failte Ireland sponsored Apprentice Chef Programme. The objective of the programme is to steer students towards eating a healthier and more balanced diet that will improve their mental and physical health and to also promote the catering industry as a career choice.

Since October 2016 over 500 students have enjoyed a series of demonstrations and workshops as part of the programme which aims to promote the importance of healthy eating to enhance physical and mental well-being, encourage young people to consider a culinary career to help combat the current chef crisis in Ireland and contribute to the development of self confidence and self esteem.

The young finalists will enjoy an authentic professional kitchen experience and serve restaurant standard dishes ranging from “green tea smoked chicken with cauliflower rice, apple & fennel slaw” to “pistachio, courgette and lemon cake” to a panel of judges. The Apprentice Chef Finals are being held in the Hotel, Culinary & Tourism Department at the Institute of Technology, Tralee, where they will have to produce their dishes for tasting and judging by a panel of independent judges.

Having been mentored by accomplished Kerry chefs Mark Doe and Louise Brosnan, who recently completed a stage in Belfast with Danni Barry, Ireland’s only female Michelin Star chef, and supported by nutritional therapist, Susie Cox, each dish presented by the students will have a “Good Mood Food” influence.

Apprentice Chef mentor Louise Brosnan

This is the fifth year of the Apprentice Chef Programme which was established by Mark Doe of Just Cooking Cookery School in Firies, Co Kerry and Mark Murphy, senior lecturer in Culinary Arts at IT Tralee. 

Apprentice Chef mentor Mark Doe

Co-founder Mark Doe said, “Since we started the Apprentice Chef in 2012, over two thousand secondary school students have attended workshops and cookery demonstrations. In our initial year we had a modest cohort of students from Kerry and Limerick. In year 2 students from Co Cork participated and for the first time this year, we were delighted to collaborate with Waterford IT and students from Tipperary, Wexford and Waterford have joined the programme. We are continuously impressed by the standard of dishes produced and this inspires us to build on the programme’s success and we will continue in our efforts to take it to national level. We are indebted to our sponsors, Flogas Ireland and Failte Ireland, for their support to date and we look forward to future collaboration.”

 George Hennessy, Apprentice Chef Winner 2016

The inaugural 2012 winner, Julia O Doherty from Hazelwood College in Dromcollogher, Co Limerick went on to study pharmacy at UCC. On International Women’s Day this year she contacted the Apprentice Chef team saying, “I find that there are many similarities between cooking and the pharmacy course. While I swapped my chef’s jacket for a lab coat and safety glasses, my goal in cooking still holds through in many dosage forms – the product must make the recipient happy. In a nutshell, it goes without saying that my success in the competition has not only inspired me to thrive in the development of my culinary skills but also in my academic studies and my pursuits in extra-curricular activities." Julia added, "When I have an exam approaching or a tough assignment due, I reflect on the challenges that I met and overcame in preparation for the competition. As a result, I have gained self-confidence and public speaking skills which are invaluable at third level.”

All finalists receive a specially commissioned Ambri chopping board, a Just Cooking cookbook and their Apprentice Chef monogrammed chef uniform.

The Supreme Apprentice Chef will also receive a set of professional knives, €1000 equipment for their school, a year’s subscription to Easyfood Magazine and a styling session at Easyfood Magazine HQ this summer. A specially commissioned perpetual trophy will also be presented to the winner.

For more information on the Apprentice Chef visit and and Follow them on Twitter on

Best of Success to all involved!

Tasty 2017 - Donegal Town pilots a new Transition Year Students Irish Food Project

TASTY 2017 is an innovative pilot Irish Food & Tourism Project, which has been recently launched in Donegal Town. It could be described as a mix of Master Chef meets The Apprentice!

Local chefs from seven of Donegal Town's leading Hotels and Restaurants have teamed-up with Transition Year (TY) Students from the local Abbey Vocational School (AVS) and together they are competing and creating new TASTY 2017 food products that feature locally sourced ingredients.

Following an interview process at the AVS, forty-two young student entrepreneurs were selected and split into seven TASTY 2017 teams. Each Tasty 2017 team has been assigned to a local hotel or restaurant who will mentor the Student Teams over an eight week period.

During the course of the project, each of the participating students will get the opportunity to work alongside tourism industry professionals and learn all about Food Origin, Sourcing, New Product Development, Culinary Arts, Food Packaging, Marketing, Social Media & Presentation Skills.

Sponsored by Donegal Town Credit Union, the Tasty 2017 project is being overseen by a voluntary steering committee which includes:

Enda O’Rourke - Catering Consultancy (Chairperson of Tasty 2017),
Geraldine Diver - Principal of Abbey Vocational School,
Dr Seán Duffy - Head of School of Tourism, LYIT Killybegs,
Conor Daly - H!VE Restaurant,
Donal Cox - Operations Manager, Solis Lough Eske Hotel and
Emily Browne - Smuggler’s Creek Inn, Rossnowlagh.

The project is been co-ordinated by Dympna Kennedy (0879334434) who is also the information point of contact for Tasty 2017 and co-ordinates the  Facebook Page at

Liam Kelly, of Donegal Town Credit Union explained why they decided to sponsor the TASTY 2017 project. “The ethos of our Credit Union is people working together for the people, with the people, and for the benefit of the people in our Donegal community” he said. “This innovative pilot programme gives our TY students real-life insights into varied career paths and opportunities within the local tourism industry and fits perfectly with the community ethos of Donegal Town Credit Union”.
Liam also paid tribute to the voluntary steering committee, the teaching staff, Chef Gabrial McSharry, all the local Donegal food producers and suppliers involved and the management and chefs at the supporting restaurants and hotels.

The 7 Teams taking part in Tasty 2017 are:

(and Do Like their Facebook Page if you like their food products)

Foireann Caonach
with Smugglers Creek Inn

Food Product: Irish Whiskey & Carragheen Cheesecake with Sea Salted Butter-Scotch 
Team Members: Shuan Campbell, Aine McGovern, Lisa Gallagher, Laura Taylor, Ellie Chambers, Euan Cullinan 
A.V.S Mentor: Mary Crawford

Lord of the Wings
with The Village Tavern

Food Product: Donegal Silkie Whiskey soaked Chicken Wings with a Smoked Sea Salt & Blissberry Farm Honey Glaze and a Donegal Blue Cheese Dip 
Team Members: Jasmine Timony, Aoife Breslin, Aisling Meehan, Marie Harris, Patrick Harley, Dillon Thomas - A.V.S Mentor: Patrice Rooney

Uisce Fishce
with Quay West Restaurant

Food Product: Whiskey & Honey Cured Salmon on a Stout Saltine with a Cream Cheese & Seaweed Aoili 
Team Members: Cian Hegarty, Siofra Mauehofe, Niamh Boyle, Ellen McGrory, Orla Breslin 
A.V.S Mentor: Sorcha Begley

A Donegal Fusion
with Chandpur Indian Restaurant

Food Product: Donegal Chicken in a peanut sauce, red pepper & onion concasse, mixed spices with Donegal Honey with cream 
Team Members: Victor Mitchell, Elizabeth Mackle, Kerrie McHugh, Aine McGroarty, Katie Shovlin,William Browne - A.V.S Mentor: Kyle Clarke

with Harvey’s Point Hotel, Lough Eske

Food Product: Slow cooked Beef Cheek & Donegal Stout Stew 
Team Members: Eoin Gallagher, Charlotte Timony, Killian Faulkner, Abbie Boyle, Niamh Histon, Nicole Browne - A.V.S Mentor: Karen Stewart

The Seaside Bakery - Tonn Arán
with Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel

Food Product: Tonn Arán - A Healthy new Seaweed Bread with Foraged Ingredients 
Team Members: Karla Kelly, Ciaran McGrory, Aine McGroary, ClodaghBoylan, Mya Magee, Elaine Wright - A.V.S Mentor: Lucy Gordon

Tirchonaill Toffee
with The Mill Park Hotel & Leisure Centre

Food Product: A Dessert Plate of Silke Whiskey Toffee Pudding, Silke Whiskey & Sea Salt Caramel Sauce with a Local Rhubarb and Custard Parfait. 
Team Members: Ella Duffy, Daniel Gallagher, Shaneen Graham, Keri O'Loughlin, Marguerita McHugh and Evan Towey - A.V.S Mentor: Mary Keeney

The LYIT School of Tourism in Killybegs is also supporting the TASTY 2017 project. Students taking part in the TASTY 2017 project first had to undergo an interview process, with successful participants assigned to teams of students with a mixed set of skills to complete a group task. This was followed by a day visit to the LYIT School of Tourism in Killybegs and opportunities to experience a real-life hospitality environment prior to visiting their participating restaurant or hotel.

“We view the TASTY 2017 pilot project as an extended work experience journey for the AVS TY Students. Each of the hotels & restaurants have been assigned their TY student teams," said Dr Seán Duffy (LYIT School of Tourism). "They are currently working on the creation of new Donegal food-dishes involving locally sourced ingredients".

Ms. Geraldine Diver, Principal of the Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town, is delighted with the project. “TASTY 2017 is an invaluable hands on learning experience that could never be achieved from a business textbook. This project will facilitate learning in so many areas and the students will gain invaluable life-skills throughout the process” she said.

The seven TASTY 2017 Teams will have to present their finished food products to a panel of judges and over 300 members of the public at a Gala Awards and Presentation Evening hosted by Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town on 16th May 2017, where all their hard work will be acknowledged and the winners announced. “It promises to be a very special evening which the team at Solis Lough Eske are delighted to host” said Sinead McGowan, of Solis Lough Eske Hotel.

On the night, each of the seven TASTY 2017 teams will present their culinary work to an invited public audience and a judging panel. Each team will make a presentation on the journey of their product and tell their food story. The public will also get to taste each of the products.

The judging panel is headed by celebrity chef Neven Maguire, McNean House, Blacklion, with Thomas Clancy, Food & Wine writer, Sunday Business PostJoan Crawford, Failte Ireland, Paul Hannigan, President LYIT Letterkenny & KillybegsAnne McHugh, Chef Executive, Donegal ETB and Zack Gallagher, Irish Food Tours Ltd.

Each product is being judged on a combination of criteria including local sourcing of ingredients, taste & presentation, marketing strategy and social media reach over the eight weeks.

There is also a tourism promotion element to the project with the opportunity as each of the food establishments that have been mentoring the teams will feature their unique TASTY 2017 dish on their own menu for the whole of the 2017 summer tourism season!

“The aim is to provide visitors to our county with a taste of the superb food and tourism experience available here in the Donegal Bay area, thereby encouraging holiday-makers to extend their time in the region,” explained Enda O’Rourke from

Michael Tunney, CEO of Local Enterprise Office Donegal, said that the project was a great example of the type of creativity and innovation that Donegal’s Good Food Initiative hopes to inspire around the county. “The Donegal TASTY 2017 project fits well with the goals of our Food Coast Brand and demonstrates how by working together in Donegal, we can encourage people to look at the potential of the food and hospitality sector both in terms of employment and enterprise.”

Emily Browne of Smugglers Creek Inn echoed this sentiment, saying “It's great to see hospitality businesses taking the initiative and driving forward new pilot projects like this one for the greater good of the entire locality”.

This is surely an idea that could be rolled out throughout the whole country to give students an insight to the opportunities that the food and hospitality sector can present. Irish Food and tourism are currently being blended together into a new tourism product here in Ireland, with excellent potential for growth.

Projects like Tasty 2017 are key to encouraging young food entrepreneurs coming into the Irish food trade and ensuring that the food and tourism industries here in Ireland will have a solid future.

So, well done and good luck to all the students involved!


Unique Dinner at The Mustard Seed to celebrate International Women's Day 2017

The award winning Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge in Ballingarry, Co Limerick has teamed up with Sharon Noonan, presenter of the Best Possible Taste West Limerick 102FM radio show and food podcast to host a special dinner, to be held on Wednesday 8 March, to mark International Women’s Day 2017.

Wednesday 8 March is International Women’s Day 2017

Sharon Noone is originally from Co Antrim and is now resident in Newcastle West. She has included the recently announced Northern Ireland signature dish “Born and Braised” on this special event's menu.

Guests to the Mustard Seed (an Ireland’s Blue Book property, which is recommended by Georgina Campbell and has won numerous accolades for its fine dining, customer service and luxurious accommodation) will choose from a menu which features some of Sharon’s favourite ingredients and dishes from both sides of the border.

 Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge in Ballingarry, Co Limerick 

Head chef Angel Pirev demonstrated his ethos for using locally sourced produce during an appearance on the last programme in Neven’s Irish Food Trails, which aired on RTE1 on Wednesday 1 March last.

The ingredients to make the dish and other courses will be sourced mainly from local businesses including butcher Pat Barry, Cahill’s Cheese, the Little Milk Company as well as the Mustard Seed's own kitchen garden. 

“It has been such an exciting process collaborating with Sharon,” explained the Mustard Seed’s John Edward Joyce.  “We look forward to producing our West Limerick interpretation of the Northern Ireland signature dish which incorporates beef shin and I’m sure guests will have difficulty deciding between it and the other options on offer.”

John Edward with Neven Maguire

The classic Northern Irish confectuionary, “Yellowman”, will also make an appearance on the 5 course menu as it was a visit to the top restaurant that inspired Sharon to make her BAI funded radio documentary “Devlins’ Yellowman – A Taste of Childhood” last year.  “When I first started thinking about what to put on the menu, “Yellowman” was top of the list,” Sharon said. “Although it will be the Mustard Seed kitchen’s version and not the one using my family’s secret recipe.  I don’t want to be excommunicated!” she said.

 Sharon Noonan, presenter of the Best Possible Taste West Limerick 102FM

International Women’s Day takes place on Wednesday 8 March and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.  The 2017 campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange.

The dinner costs €47.00 per person for 5 courses plus tea/coffee with petits fours. 

Guests wishing to spend the night in one of the recently refurbished rooms can avail of a special overnight rate of €55 B&B per person sharing. 

Pre booking is essential by contacting The Mustard Seed on 069 68508 or email


WIN a Box of Keogh's Shamrock Crisps just in time for St Patrick's Day

Keogh's Farm are the only potato growers in the world who offer fresh potatoes and potato crisps from the same farm side by side in the same store!

"We sleep, eat, breathe potato crisps and potatoes!” says. Tom Keogh, managing director of Keogh’s Family Farm. The family have been growing potatoes in north county Dublin for over 200 years. The city of Dublin has grown around the farm over the years!

In 2012 the Keogh Family launched the world’s first-ever shamrock flavoured food delight: Hand-cooked Shamrock and Sour Cream Irish potato Crisps. The flavour for these was developed with the "Living Shamrock Company" in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry, who have been producing fresh shamrock for the American President since 1952. 

I'm delighted this year to be once again associated with Keogh's Farm in having a Box of their famous Crisps to Give Away in time for this year's St Patrick's Day!

To WIN this Hamper simply LIKE or Follow the Keoghs Facebook or Twitter 
by Clicking below:

LIKE or Follow Keoghs Farm to Enter the Competition and send them a message!

The competition will Close on Tuesday 7th March 
and you should get the Box of Crisps in time for St. Patrick's Day
(not guaranteed - depending on winner's location.)

Best of Luck to all!

Competition Closed - Winner is Anthony McGinty via a Facebook Like

The Top 10 Best Irish Foods to Watch Out For in 2017

If you want to find out what's really happening in the modern Irish Food scene - get on Twitter!

Every year, around Christmas Eve - I ask this question on my @IrishFoodGuide Twitter account... "What was Your Best Irish Food Find of the Year?"

I always get hundreds of replies from food lovers all over Ireland and this year was no exception with replies pouring in on Twitter over all the days of Christmas and New Year.

Most people tweeted back about amazing food products that they had discovered for the first time and others cheered on favourite food producers, street food and the excellent range of craft beers, spirits, ciders and wines that they've tasted over the last year from all over the island of Ireland.

Some folks tweeted about great restaurants that they've enjoyed last year but other writers and websites will take on the challenge of putting together the 'best restaurant' lists!

I have always said that "Irish Food" is food that is produced here on the Island of Ireland and so I've always included products with provenence from Northern Ireland as such.

This year I could see a change in the types of food products that came in the tweets and I spent a few days collating, counting and checking all the Tweeted suggestions from the public.

And so, based on all the tweets recieved from the public over the last two weeks, I've compiled (and for the first time category-listed) this year's Top 10 Best Irish Foods to Watch Out For in 2017, as voted by the public, on Twitter, in Ireland.

I've also included a Twitter Follow Button for each of the food products or people involved, so that you can follow them all with a simple click!

Best Irish Wine
Wicklow Way Wines
Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow -
Móinéir Blackberry Wine with Wild Elderberries
Founded by Pamela Walsh and Brett Stephenson, Wicklow Way Wines are made in small batches at their County Wicklow winery, entirely from local Irish fruit. Their wines offer tantalising aromas, flavours and colours and are a unique way to savour a little of Ireland’s rich bounty.

Best Irish Craft Beer
Kinnegar Brewing Company
Rathmullan, County Donegal -
Kinnegar Rustbucket Rye & Barley Malt Ale
Currently working on the opening a brand new state-of-the-art brewery in nearby Letterkenny, Kinnegar Brewing was established in 2011 by Rick LeVert and Libby Carton. Rustbucket is a balance of rye and barley malt. The rye gives it a little spiciness which combines nicely with hops that contribute a citrusy note. Alc. 5.1% vol.

Best Irish Charcuterie
Corndale Farm
Limavady, County Derry -
Corndale Free Range Pork Chorizo
Corndale Farm, established in Limavady in 2012 by Alastair Crown, with the aim to produce top-quality pork from his herd of rare-breed, free-range pigs and have developed their own recipe for a unique smoky, savoury chorizo with a gentle background heat.

Best Irish Potatoes
Ballymakenny Farm
Ballymakenny, County Drogheda - 
Ballymakenny Farm Heritage Potatoes
Although coloured potatoes have been around for hundreds of years, they were quite hard to find until Maria Flynn started growing her specialised purple varieties at their farm in County Louth.
Now some of Ireland's top chefs and restaurants hold these potatoes, that are rich in immunity boosting and cancer fighting properties, in very high regard.

Best Irish Nutritional Sweet Snack
Absolute Nutrition Foods
Brittas, Co Dublin -
Absolute Nutrition Chocolate Protein Balls
Dublin girl Joanne Davey, a trained holistic nutritionist, founded Absolute Nutrition in 2014 and has created an artisan collection of award winning paleo, protein & energy treats and snacks.
They make everything by hand in their Dublin based kitchen.

Best Irish Nutrional Savoury Snack
Irish Biltong Company
Naas, Co. Kildare -
High Protein Gourmet Beef Snack
Biltong is made by marinading beef in a special spice mix and allowing it to air dry before cutting it into thin strips to be eaten as a healthy snack, which is high in protein and low in sugar or fat. Irish Biltong, set up by Noreen & John Doyle, is fast breaking ground into sporting and fitness circles.

Best New Irish Street Food
Tom & Caolán Cullen's Arctic Stone
Marlay Park & People's Park, Dublin City -
Freshly Made Hand-Rolled Ice Cream
Flash frozen ice-cream, made to order, is a relativley new concept which originally developed in Thailand. By using premiem Irish ingredients, brothers Caolán & Tom Cullen have built a large core following of regular customers at their weekend street food stalls in Dublin city and at national markets and festivals.

Best New Irish Confectionary
Chocolatey Clare
Ravensdale Park, Kimmage, Dublin -
Dairy Free, Gluten Free & Vegan Chocolate
Clare Tait's range of Dairy Free, Gluten Free & Vegan Chocolate flavoured chocolates are made entirely by hand in a dedicated section of a professional kitchen. She sources her ingredients carefully and uses fair-trade and organic ingredients where possible.

Best Irish Speciality Grower
Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms
Ballinalacken, County Limerick -
Speciality Mushrooms & Mushroom Products
Lucy Deegan & Mark Cribbin set up in 2011 to  grow and supply the finest possible quality mushrooms and mushroom products in Ireland. They now  grow in excess of 10 varieties of speciality mushrooms year round which are grown in the absence of chemicals or pesticides.

Best Irish Seafood Product
The Haven Smokehouse
Carrigart, County Donegal -
Turf Smoked Organic Salmon
Declan McConnellogue & Sue Cruse set up The Haven Smokehouse on their small farm near Carrigart on the Downings peninsula in north county Donegal, because they wanted to turf-smoke organic salmon. Their determination and passion, like the taste of their salmon, is unique.

And so, there you have the Top 10 Best Irish Foods to Watch Out For in 2017 as voted by the public in Ireland, on Twitter!

An interesting and diverse mix of new and established Irish Food products. Now it's your turn to get in contact with them all and try them out for yourself!

You can Follow me on Twitter here:

Do try to enjoy as much Irish Food as you can this year!

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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

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