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New Irish International Fashion and Food Summit in Sligo this November

The inaugural Irish International Fashion and Food Summit (IIFFS), takes place in Sligo from the 3rd – 5th November, and it's a summit like no other! It’s a combination of Fashion & Food, and it is being held in one of the most outstanding places of beauty in Europe – Sligo!


Fashion & Food have always been linked at the hip, and the concept of an International Fashion and Food Summit, held here in Ireland, was developed by Joanne Costello, a Sligo native and a graduate of fashion styling from the prestigious Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design, London.

"The reason for a Fashion and Food Summit is to provide a platform to allow each industry to be inspired both creatively and commercially", said Joanne. "As well as being a showcase for both Irish fashion and Irish food, it will also allow interaction with international experts from both industries".


The IIFFS Food Series will feature a vast array of Ireland's most recognised and respected chefs, business owners and operators, critics and producers. The three day event will see numerous presentations and exciting opportunities for audiences to interact with a wealth of Culinary Personalities the likes of which has never been seen before in Sligo.

Philip O’Brien, Event Director said “the culinary aspect to the IIFFS is very exciting, we have such an abundance of talented chefs, producers and food entrepreneurs in Ireland that all who attend the food series should learn and gain inspiration. One of the aims of the IIFFS is to generate debate and profile for Irish culinary reputation internationally and we will get input and perspective from those who have been and those who are pushing the boundaries”.

Some of the Irish chefs and food producers that are speaking at the event include Danni Barry, Mickael Viljanen, Denis Cotter,  Jess Murphy, Prannie Rhattigan, Mags Kirwan, Deirdre Gysling, Ciaran Sweeney, Pádraic Óg Gallagher along with a host of others, who will speak about their unique experiences and will discuss the future of Irish food and food tourism.



In tandem with the Food series, the Fashion and Design events feature renowned international and national industry and business experts delivering workshops and talks on the business of fashion as well as inspiring creativity in various areas of the industry.  This continues the summits central theme of inspiring and educating entrepreneurs in the creative sectors and providing tomorrows successful chefs and fashion industry professionals with the tools and knowledge to run commercially sustainable creative businesses.

For more info see www.iiffs.ie and Tickets can be purchased at www.iiffs.ie/tickets-purchase

Follow the Irish International Fashion & Food Summit on Twitter at



See you there! Zack.

Kellys Butchers open a new Food Tourism Économusée

Mayo’s first Économusée (roughly translated as a 'Working Museum') was officially opened on Thursday 12th October 2017, at Kelly’s Butchers, Newport by Maireád Lavery, Editor Irish Country Living – Irish Farmers Journal. The Économusée movement is an international network of artisans which was started in Québec, Canada and is steadily spreading worldwide. Kellys is just the third food Économusée in Ireland.

To become a member of the Économusée movement, a producer must "use traditional craft techniques in the production of its products and open its doors to the public in order to share the knowledge of its artisan crafts people." 

Technically, an Économusée is a Tourism Experience at an artisan producers workplace, where you can learn about the product, its history and its production.

These rural artisan food and craft producers are supported to develop a tourism aspect to their operations providing a learning and interpretive experience for visitors. In Kelly’s case, the visits will be by pre-booking only. The Économusées form a tourism-based network, or trail, which helps the businesses expand their sales, to sustain employment and offers an enhanced visitor experience.

Maireád Lavery, Editor Irish Country Living with Master Butcher, Sean Kelly
For over 80 years Kelly’s Butchers in Newport, Co. Mayo have been quietly making their mark with superior black and white puddings, the traditional putóg and speciality sausages. The company motto is “We make up to a standard, not down to a price” a confident declaration of a commitment to premium quality. The family business maintains their traditional methods and recipes, using only the highest quality Irish ingredients and these time-honoured processes are now the focus of the Économusée. Kelly’s sought-after artisan products are multiple award winners both in Ireland and internationally.



An Économusée is an important heritage tourism attraction and contributes to the sustainability of rural areas through the creation of direct employment and by providing an attraction that disperses tourists to rural regions.

Speaking at the opening, Mairéad Lavery said, “Kelly’s involvement in the Économusée movement arose because of The Craft Reach project, which is led in Ireland by Teagasc and funded by the EU Northern Periphery and Artic (NPA) Programme 2014-2020. The term Économusée is copyright protected and it is a recognised badge of quality which carries the tagline ‘Artisans at Work’. A network of 80 Économusées now exists internationally, with 45 based in Canada and 35 in 7 European countries including Ireland, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Sweden."



There are five Économusées in Ireland. Three are food producers, two are craft based, and there are plans for more in 2018.

Dr. Kevin Heanue who is leading the project for Teagasc commented, “The Économusée concept is an innovative model of rural enterprise support which helps artisan producers diversify their businesses into the cultural tourism market by providing them with a 6 step template to help them structure the visitor experience and also links them with an international network of like-minded artisan producers. The network will benefit greatly from a producer with the reputation of Kelly’s becoming a member”.

Kenneth, Cormac, Sean & Seamus Kelly carry on the family business
founded more than 80 years ago by Dominic Kelly

 The Kelly’s Butchers Économusée is well placed to attract the “culturally curious” tourist, who represents a significant market segment in Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland’s marketing strategy. As Seán Kelly said, “The Économusée is all about bringing our history right into the present day. It’s a showcase for the time honoured, traditional ways of making black pudding and a chance for us to introduce visitors to Newport and our local area”.

An insight into the Économusée Network - the types of businesses, their location and background can found at www.economusee.eu

For more information on Kelly’s Butchers go to www.kellysbutchers.com

This is a great addition to the Food and Tourism Network for North Mayo and another wonderful foodie destination for food tourists to visit, when they come to Ireland.

Zack

My Traditional Irish Christmas Cake

Christmas cakes are made in many different ways, but generally they are variations on the classic fruitcake. They can be light, dark, moist, dry, heavy, spongy etc. The cakes are made in many different shapes, with frosting, royal icing, a dusting of icing sugar or simple and plain.

The spices and dried fruits in the cake are supposed to represent the exotic eastern spices brought by the three Wise Men to the newborn King! The fruit is all soaked overnight in the whiskey, in a covered bowl, before use.

I always make three cakes - one for Christmas Day and two to eat every day for tea until then!

My Christmas Cake Ingredients:
150g (5oz) raisins
125g (4½oz) stoned dates
125g (4½oz) sultanas
100g (4oz) glace cherries
100ml (4 fl oz) Irish whiskey
(all of the above are soaked together overnight before making the cake)

225g (8oz) real butter
extra butter for greasing
200g (7oz) caster sugar
4 eggs
grated rind of 1 lemon & 1 orange
2tbls black treacle (or molasses)
225g (8oz) plain (all purpose) flour
½ tsp salt
1 rounded tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground clove
50g (2oz) ground almonds
50ml (2 fl oz) extra whiskey 

My Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F), Gas mark 2. Grease a 20cm (8") cake tin and line it with greaseproof paper. Wrap some Newspaper around the outside and tie it with string. This will help the outside of the cake from browning too much during the cooking and prevent it from drying out.

2. Beat together, in a bowl, the sugar & butter until creamy. Gradually add the eggs, dusting a little of the flour in with each egg added. Add the treacle & grated fruit rinds and mix well.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl of soaked fruit and add the salt, spices and almonds. Stir all of this together, mixing well.

4. Fold the fruit mix into the egg mix, stirring evenly. Spoon the completed mix into the cake tin.

5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 3 hours. If it is browning a little too much cover it loosely with tinfoil. Cook for another ½ hour. The cake is cooked when a fine skewer, inserted into the centre, comes out clean and dry.

Make small holes all over the warm cake with a skewer and spoon the extra 50ml whiskey over the holes until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. 

When the cake is cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap it first in clean greaseproof paper and then in foil.

A small amount of brandy, sherry or whiskey (depending on your favourite drink) should be poured onto the cake every week until Christmas. This process is called “feeding the cake”. 

You also should turn the cake over, each week, before you pour another little bit of your favourite drink over it. This ensures that all that lovely alcohol penetrates to the very middle of the Christmas cake and definitely creates that "Yum!" factor on Christmas Day. Enjoy!

Zack

Chef Jean Michel Chevet takes over as Executive Head Chef at The IVY at Dunboyne Castle Hotel

The IVY at Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa have announced the arrival of their new Executive Head Chef, Jean Michel Chevet. Dunboyne Castle Hotel is located at Castlefarm, Dunboyne, Co. Meath, just 18 km from Dublin City Centre and 20 km from Dublin Airport.


Jean Michel takes the helm at the award-winning IVY restaurant where he will lead the culinary team and plans to bring Dunboyne Castle’s restaurant offering to new heights. He has designed a new autumn/winter menu that is sure to tempt the taste buds - Click Ivy Menus. Jean Michel’s says his menu is "defined by innovative and wonderfully flavoursome dishes, along with his ability to preserve the original flavours of fresh, local ingredients."

Chef Jean Michel Chevet takes over the kitchen at IVY Restaurant in Dunboyne Castle, County Meath
 French born and classically trained Jean Michel’s food philosophy champions the use of the finest selection of seasonal, Irish produce to create quality cuisine. Having developed his skills in Michelin Star restaurants across the globe as well as in some of Ireland's top establishments like Ballyfin House and Lough Rynn Castle, Jean Michel brings with him over 20 years of experience.

Pan Fried Scallops, Cauliflower Couscous, Bacon Crisps, Juniper, Orange
Some of the gastronomic highlights featured on the brand new á la carte menu includes fresh crabmeat rolls, served with avocado purée, grapefruit and apple or fillet of brill, served with asparagus risotto, brown shrimps in a red wine beurre blanc, along with a selection of mouth-watering desserts including a pistachio and strawberry mille feuille with pistachio sponge and strawberry sauce.

The IVY Restaurant at Dunboyne Castle, County Meath
The IVY at Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa prides itself in producing an exquisite menu and pushes the boundaries to deliver an experience like no other. Having showcased its enticing menus throughout the years, the restaurant was awarded 2 AA Rosettes in 2013 and has since retained the coveted accolades that recognise culinary excellence. Dunboyne Castle also boasts 145 luxury rooms, along with an exclusive spa where guests can relax and rejuvenate.

Rhubarb Parfait, Brioche Crumb, Roasted Apricots, Raspberry Coulis
Speaking at Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa, Gráinne Ross, Managing Director, commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Jean Michel Chevet to Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa as our new Executive Head Chef. His culinary skills and passion for food are unparalleled. Our guests are at the heart of our business and we are delighted to treat them to an experience that is sure to warm their stomachs and hearts, throughout the winter months and beyond.”

Commenting on his new position Chef Jean Michel Chevet said, “The IVY at Dunboyne Castle has a superb reputation and I'm excited to come on board in the role of Executive Head Chef here. I hope not only to uphold the quality of the IVY offering but also to give it my own personal touch and take it to a new level that will really wow guests of the hotel and diners at The IVY.”

For more details and bookings see: www.dunboynecastlehotel.com and
you can Follow Dunboyne Castle on Twitter here:


Zack

Food On The Edge calls for Food to be a compulsory subject in all Irish Schools

The two-day international food symposium Food On The Edge finished up in Galway on Tuesday last, the 10th of October. More than 400 people attended on each day of Food On The Edge, Social Media Hashtag #FOTE2017, which was held in the Black Box theatre in Galway city. More than 50 of the world’s best international and Irish chefs and food leaders took to the stage to share their food stories and debate topics. Over 70 Irish food producers showcased their produce, to some of the world's best chefs, in the Artisan Food Village at the event over the two days.



The major theme of Food On The Edge 2017 was Action & Reaction and a number of speakers presented personal stories about how they have been inspired to take action in reaction to issues spoken about in previous years at Food On The Edge.

The actions that high-profile chefs have taken to address Hunger and Nutrition was a key theme, with Daniel Burns of Torst and Luksus in Brooklyn saying, “As chefs we can influence social change, act locally and spread the word globally.”  South African chef Margot Janse, founder of the Isabelo charity, and Spanish chef Quique Dacosta (Quique Dacosta Restaurant), ambassador for Action Against Hunger, also devoted their food stories to the topic of hunger and nutrition. 

CEO of Concern Worldwide, Dominic MacSorley, opened this year’s Food On The Edge with a talk on the topic of Reaching Zero Hunger.

The Food On The Edge team: (L-R) Edel McMahon, Event Administrator & Graphic Design,
Ruth Hegarty, Sponsorship Manager, JP McMahon, Symposium Director, Drigin Gaffey, Event Co-Ordinator
and Olivia Collins, Communications Manager, at Food On The Edge 2017
Tuesday the 10th of October was also World Mental Health Day and Mental Health in the Hospitality Services was another key theme. It was addressed by Irish-born, London-based chef Anna Haugh (Bob Bob Ricard), North American writer & author Kat Kinsman (Chefs With Issues) and North American chef Elise Kornack (from the former Brooklyn restaurant Take Root).

Another key theme was Work-Life Balance in the life of the chef and restaurateur, which was addressed by Norwegian chef Esben Holmboe Bang (Maaemo), who spoke about how he is taking steps towards creating a more healthy work environment for chefs and staff by having introduced a three-and-a-half day week followed by a four-day week.

Magnus Nilsson of Faviken, Sweden, said he believes that innovation and creativity can be increased by time out from work. “No one in the team should be indispensible and everyone should want to be there and not to have to be there,” said Nilsson and he encourages a policy of five weeks’ holidays per year and a healthy work-life balance.

“Head chefs forget to look after themselves,” said Nicolai Norregaard (Kadeau, Copenhagen) who also advocated for a better work-life balance in the industry.

Chef JP McMahon, Director of Food On The Edge, with Chef Magnus Nilsson, Faviken, Sweden
and Netflix's Chef's Table and Chef Robin Gill, The Dairy, Clapham and Masterchef Ireland
Education was another key theme and JP McMahon shared his “action & reaction” story about his new Education Agenda campaign to get food introduced as a proper subject in schools in Ireland. JP said, “I want to emphasise the importance of food and food education in Ireland. It’s essential to have food as a mandatory subject on the school curriculum. I think it’s really important that we do that. Food education can help combat childhood obesity, poor eating habits and it teaches the importance of Irish food culture.”

Four sixth class children from Galway Educate Together National School (where JP’s two daughters attend) concluded Food On The Edge by going on stage to read out essays they had written on the subject of the future of food.

JP McMahon closed the event by asking each person in attendance to sign a letter he had written to Ireland’s Minister for Education, Mr Richard Bruton, requesting that a Food Subject be made mandatory on the school curriculum.

Over 450 participants at Food On The Edge signed a similar Letter to Minister Bruton

After the two days of talks, the organisers of Food On The Edge took the speakers on a two-day trip to visit Irish food producers. Last year the trip saw the group explore Connemara, while this year they visited The Burren, taking in Kelly’s Oysters, Dunguaire Castle, The Burren Smokehouse and St. Tola Goat Farm, among others.

Super Congratulations to the passionate and dedicated team behind Food On The Edge and I'm certainly not going to miss Food On The Edge 2018! #FOTE2018


New Halloween Mystery Food Tours in Galway

Galway Food Tours is celebrating Halloween in their own unique style, with a series of Mystery Food Tour throughout Galway City.

Galway Food Tours are walking tours of Galway run by Sheena Dignam who brings people to taste produce from some of Galway’s culinary favourites and some hidden gems too!



The Mystery Food Tours will run on Thursday 26th October and Thursday 2nd of November at 6pm and there is a maximum of 20 people per tour so pre-booking is essential!

The four venues you're going to visit will be kept secret until you start the tour, but they will all be within walking distance of Galway City Centre and around the Galway Westend area.

At the four mystery venues, there will be a celebration of local foods and of course there will be Wine
& Cheese tasting, Poitin and Storytelling around an open fire, sampling of signature Drinks and
Desserts, board games and some spooky ghost stories as the Food Tour moves through the dusky streets of Galway.

“Halloween is such a fun holiday and we wanted to celebrate it this year with some spookiness!" said Sheena Dignam, owner of Galway Food Tours. "We have four really cool food venues on board and the Food and Drink pairing (along with some games and goulish stories) will make for a great night out, with a difference, over Halloween!”

Check out Galway Food Tours across all social media platforms..

The Halloween Mystery Food Tour is priced at €55 per person (plus booking fee unless you contact Sheena directly) and will run at at 6pm on Thursday 26th October & 2nd November. Tickets for the Halloween Mystery Food Tour are available on www.galwayfoodtours.com

Sounds of the Afternoon Sea - A Feast of Irish Seafood at Savour Kilkenny

Now in its 11th year, Savour Kilkenny has brought some of Ireland’s finest food producers, chefs and epicureans to the medieval city to enjoy a weekend of culinary delight and innovation. This year, Kilkenny Civic Trust welcomes festival goers to enjoy three unique events taking place as part of the Savour Kilkenny 2018 programme.


From noon to 5pm on Saturday October 28, the Medieval Mile Museum will invite the public to step back in time as craftspeople demonstrate medieval skills including; cooking, leatherwork, coin striking, weaving, arrow making and fletching. This event is free to the public and no booking is necessary.



At 5.30pm on Saturday evening, Executive Chef at Kilkenny’s prestigious Butler House, Ger Dunne, will present a demonstration in culinary skills at the Marble City Stage. Ger is renowned for his respect of local seasonal food and evolving style which creates unique dishes full of flavour, underpinned by a contemporary, less formal approach to fine cuisine. Again, admission to this event is free.

Executive Chef Gerard Dunne, Butler House, Kilkenny

Meanwhile, on Sunday afternoon at 3pm, Butler House will host Sounds of the Afternoon Sea. Conceptualised by Executive Chef Ger Dunne, this dining experience will feature a selection of the finest and most delicious seafood savouries - crabmeat with toasted brioche, lobster with caviar, mini bloody Mary prawn cocktails, Harty Oysters and Irish smoked salmon on Guinness bread - combined with some classic sweet pastries. 


“It’s a huge privilege for us to be involved with a superb Savour Kilkenny programme,” said CEO, Ciaran Conroy, Kilkenny Civic Trust. “We hope all those coming along to the festival take the opportunity to visit the events at Kilkenny Civic Trust properties. Our doors are open to everyone at Butler House and the Medieval Mile Museum and we’d like to wish Savour Kilkenny the best of luck with their enormously successful event.”

Sounds of the Afternoon Sea
Venue: Butler House and Garden
Date: Sunday 29th October
Time: 3pm
Admission: €35 per person. Booking Essential.

To Book, Telephone: +353 (0)56 772 2828 or Email: info@butler.ie


Ennis’ Favourite Dessert 2017 is White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake on an Oreo Base

This recipe for a White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake on an Oreo Base, by Chef Bernie Kelly at The Old Ground Hotel, Ennis, County Clare, was the winner of the Ennis’ Favourite Dessert Competition for this years' Ennis Food Festival.

Chef Bernie Kelly, from the Old Ground Hotel, wanted to share her winning Cheesecake Recipe with you all, so here it is!

Ennis Favourite Food 2017 White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake on an Oreo Base recipe Irish Food


White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake on an Oreo Base

Base
250g oreo biscuits crushed
125g melted butter

Filling
500g Cream Cheese
200g caster sugar
4 ½  Gelatine leaves softened
250g White Chocolate melted
650g Cream – lightly whipped
Raspberries

Glaze
300g raspberry puree
3 gelatine leaves softened

Method:
1. Make the base with crushed Oreo biscuits & melted butter and press onto lined 10” base biscuit tin.
2. Beat the cream cheese & sugar together.
3. Heat 200g of the lightly whipped cream until warm only, add the gelatine & mix until melted.
4. Add the melted white chocolate to the gelatine cream mix, then pour onto the beaten cream cheese.
5. Mix together and then fold in the rest of the lightly whipped cream until combined.
6. Finally add in the raspberries, stir and pour onto prepared biscuit base. Pop it in the fridge until completely set.
7. For the glaze, heat raspberry puree and add softened gelatine, pour over the cheesecake  when cool and let the glaze set before serving.


The 2017 Ennis Food Festival takes place this week from the 12th - 15th October with loads of great people cooking and showcasing loads of great Irish Food. Full details are available at www.ennisfoodfestival.com


Fáilte Ireland launches New Taste of Place Food Charter for National Visitor Attractions

Food Tourism is an increasing part of the global tourism industry and Ireland is becoming well positioned to showcase our excellent quality food and build a modern Irish Food Tourism industry.

Tourists and travellers, all over the world, are seeking out locally sourced dishes and the stories of the people and the production behind the food. This growing interest in experiencing local food presents an ideal opportunity for Irish Visitor Attractions to create and deliver more authentic food experiences that are reflective of the area in which they are located.


Fáilte Ireland, is today rolling out a new food innovation programme ‘Taste of Place’ for Ireland’s Visitor Attractions, including sites of historical or cultural interest, museums, national parks, and interpretive centres, to improve and enhance the food and drink on offer at these sites and bring it into line with the standards of modern Irish Food that is being offered in Ireland's best restaurants and hotels.

Modern Irish Food by JP McMahon at Aniar, Galway


This new programme has been developed by Fáilte Ireland, to ensure that visitors to Ireland get a real Taste Of Place at national visitor attractions and it will also help encourage businesses in the Irish Food sector, who's food offering may be lacking Irish Food provenance on their menus, to up their game.


The programme aims to support catering teams at high density attractions in delivering an authentic and quality food and beverage experience that is rooted in place by:

  • Introducing more menu options that reflect the culinary traditions of a local area.
  • Sourcing ingredients from local Irish suppliers.
  • Linking elements of the food offering to the wider destination brands.



Food Services who commit to the changes outlined in the charter will complete an intensive three day programme with cookery demonstrations from renowned Irish chefs, JP McMahon in Galway, Paul Flynn in Waterford and Domini Kemp in Dublin.  The locations and dates of these Cookery demonstrations are:

  • Wild Atlantic Way: Aniar Restaurant, Galway, October 2, 16 & 23.
  • Ireland’s Ancient East: Tannery Cookery School, Waterford, October 10, 11 & 12.
  • Dublin: Cooks Academy, Wicklow Street, October 11, 18 & 25.


The three-day workshops will include an introduction to how food motivates the tourist with participants discovering the latest tourist trends and culinary concepts together with best practice examples of where local authentic food offerings drive revenue growth in business and enhance value perception.  Participants will also get a variety of cookery demonstrations and take part in working sessions to inspire change and deliver a renewed food and beverage offering.

Modern Irish Food by Colin McKee at Harveys Point, Donegal

"With visitors to Ireland spending some €2.2 billion on food every year,  it is our job as the tourism industry, to ensure we put our best foot forward when it comes to giving them the experiences they want," said Sinead Hennessy, Food Tourism Officer with Fáilte Ireland. 

She added, "From the tourist’s perspective, the food and beverage offered at visitor attractions is a core part of the entire experience and should be viewed as a critical revenue driver and not ancillary to the visit.  This new ‘Taste of Place’ charter is the first step in ensuring that visitors to Ireland’s attractions encounter an enhanced offering that is reflective of Ireland’s growing food reputation.”


To be eligible for the ‘Taste of Place’ charter, participating attractions must:
  • Complete a baseline survey detailing current sourcing practices.
  • Successfully complete Failte Ireland’s Taste of Place development programme.
  • Verify commitment to sourcing 50% of food items from Ireland and/or the local area.
  • Verify commit to sourcing 25% of drink items from Ireland and/or the local area.
  • Identify provenance of local food and drink on the menu.
  • Include one signature dish dedicated to the destination brand on the menu.
  • Undergo an evaluation to verify the commitment.



Participating attractions on the Wild Atlantic Way include:
Kylemore Abbey, Galway
Lisadelle House, Sligo
Glenveigh National Park, Donegal
Westport House, Mayo
Foxford Woolen Mills, Mayo
Glenkeen Farm, Mayo
Bunratty Castle, Clare
Ailwee Caves, Clare
Tralee Bay Wetlands, Kerry
King Johns Castle, Limerick


Participating attractions in Ireland’s Ancient East include:
Wicklow Gaol, Wicklow
Hook Lighthouse, Wexford
Jameson Experience, Cork
Bru Na Boinne, Meath
Waterford Treasures, Waterford
Newbridge Silverware, Kildare
Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny
House of Waterford Crystal, Waterford


Participating attractions in Dublin include:
National Botanic Gardens
Kilmainham Gaol
Glasnevin Cemetary
Dublin Zoo
Trinity College
Abbey Theatre
National Library
Teelings Irish Whiskey Distillery
GPO - Witness History
Richmond Barracks

This is an excellent step forward by Fáilte Ireland to raise the standard of Irish Food on offer at national Irish Visitor Attractions and to create and deliver more authentic food experiences and food memories for international visitors to Ireland. 

Guests on an Irish Food Tour to Donegal Craft Bakery in Donegal Town

Online images of modern Irish food from these internationally recognised visitor attractions will help change the traditional perceptions that international tourists have of Irish food and will certainly assist the further development of Irish Food Tourism.

Zack

Keep VAT at 9% for the Hospitality Sector in Budget 2018

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has today expressed deep concern about any increase to the 9% VAT rate for Tourism. The Association has launched its economic impact report by Economist, Jim Power which assesses the impact a 1% increase in the VAT rate would have on the sector.


The food service and accommodation sector currently employs 152,200 people directly and 17,388 indirectly. The Economic Report highlights the inevitability that a 1% increase would cost jobs in the sector. The only question is, how many jobs would be lost? It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that up to 4% of the jobs in the sector could be shed, which would equate to around 6,000 jobs, both part-time and full-time. This would leave rural areas particularly vulnerable, according to Jim Power Economist.

A comparative between 2011 and 2017 demonstrates the advantages to the sector and employment as a whole because of the reduced VAT rate. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of people working in the Accommodation & Food Services Sector nationally increased by 37,800, taking total employment from 114,400 to 152,200.



Key findings from the report include:

Weakening of Sterling & Brexit

Restaurants in general will suffer if visitor numbers from the UK continue to decline due to sterling weakness. Restaurants in the Border counties are particularly vulnerable to sterling weakness as less people will come across the border from Northern Ireland and customers from the South will have a financial incentive to go North of the Border. Restaurants in rural areas all over the country will suffer if indigenous exporters, which are very important contributors to rural economic activity, come under pressure due to sterling weakness.

Post-Brexit the following threats to the Restaurant sector can be identified:

Sterling weakness and its consequences will remain a serious threat if a ‘Hard Brexit’ transpires, indigenous Irish exporters will come under significant pressure.
Farming and agri-food businesses are likely to be particularly vulnerable.
If rural businesses suffer, the restaurant sector in rural areas will be particularly vulnerable. The Dublin market will be less vulnerable, due to its capital city status.


If the Common Travel Area is not preserved, the outlook for the UK tourism market will become very pressurised. This can be noted when comparing the UK tourist figures from January to May 2016 to the same period in 2017 which saw a decrease of 6.8% in UK visitor numbers to Ireland.  If the UK leaves the EU’s Open Skies arrangement, air travel between Ireland and the UK could be adversely affected, with negative consequences for tourism and by implication, the Restaurant sector.



Dollar Weakness

Visitors from North America increased by 21.6% in the first half of 2017. This growth is potentially under threat due to recent weakness of the US dollar against the euro. It is currently trading just under 1.20 against the euro, having been at 1.0384 at the end of 2016. This dollar weakness will damage the competitiveness of the tourism product from US visitors and if dollar weakness is sustained, it poses a significant threat over the coming year.

Wage Pressures

Wage pressures are building in the economy due to a combination of minimum wage increases and market pressures of the labour market. Given the labour intensive nature of Accommodation & Food Services, this sector is particularly vulnerable to wage pressures.


In any consideration of a 1% VAT increase in Budget 2018 the impact on the overall competitiveness of the tourism sector needs to be the key consideration. For many operators, (particularly outside of Dublin) absorbing the 1% increase could be the difference between success or failure. If the 1% VAT increase were to be passed on to consumers, it would seriously damage the competitiveness of a sector that is already coming under significant pressure from currency movements and other cost pressures.



Adrian Cummins, CEO Restaurants Association of Ireland said today, “I am appealing to the Government to think twice before loading another 1% VAT on consumers.  This will cause enormous damage to the economy of Border Counties and Rural Ireland.”



Recommendation: Maintain 9% VAT for the hospitality sector into Budget 2018!

New Food Innovation and Networking Space at Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards

Bank of Ireland and Blas na hEireann are, this year, partnering to create The Backyard at Blas, a new innovative breakout space and networking venue at the 10th Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards.

The Backyard at Blas is a dedicated space to meet fellow producers, gain knowledge & find support for your business. An exciting line up of speakers will share their experiences to help you develop & grow your business.


The Backyard at Blas came about from the highly successful Bank of Ireland’s Food Series which takes place each month in the Bank’s Workbench & Community Branch in Limerick. The initiative aims to educate, celebrate and promote all that’s good about local Irish food. In addition to the Food Series being held in Limerick's start up space, these events will also be rolled out in Cork and Galway's Workbenches.

The venue is part of the ever expanding events and opportunities which are central to Blas na hEireann. The Backyard at Blas, in the heart of Dingle, will host a series of talks and networking events are scheduled on the Friday 29th September and Saturday 30th September.

Speakers will include well known chefs, buyers and industry experts offering valuable and insightful advice during interactive sessions with finalist producers.

Speaking on the partnership, Liam Sheedy, Director of Munster, Bank of Ireland said, “Bank of Ireland are absolutely delighted to partner with Blas na hEireann to bring the Backyard at Blas to this year’s awards. Bank of Ireland has always played an active role in supporting food, agri and hospitality businesses and our partnership with Blas na hEireann will further strengthen that support.”

Back: Michael Murphy, John Doyle, Artie Clifford, Frank Shaw 
Front: Fallon Moore, Roisin Crotty, Pat Carroll

Artie Clifford, Blas na hEireann Chairperson, added, “Blas are delighted to partner with Bank of Ireland to bring this exciting new venue where producers can meet fellow producers, gain knowledge and share their experiences.”

Conversations in The Backyard, which opens from 12 noon, include:


  • Friday 29th September


2pm: Start Talking…
Blas Producer’s Champion 2016 John McKenna introduces the core theme of The Backyard at Blas. Communication. He will be in conversation with award-winning producers on why you should look to your competitors in the industry as your colleagues.

3pm: Be Social…
A 20 minute session of social media tips with the #Blas2017 Twitter Fairy, Sharon Noonan aka @QueenOfOrg. If you’re a complete novice with social media or use it sporadically, come along and get for inspiring material, time-saving tips and strategic tools to capitalise on the opportunities that social media can generate for you, your business and your award winning products.
Social media costs nothing but your time and it does pay off. Don’t be scared, get social.

4pm: Think it Through…
You have worked hard on your product. You have done late nights and early starts. You have put your heart and soul into it. To carry this through to the finish line with a buyer you really need to know more than just your own product inside out. You need to know what is happening in your category; what the trends are and how to prepare for that all-important meeting.

5pm: Be ready to Show your Best...
You can’t just rock up at a trade show and hope for the best. You have invested time and money in getting there, but you need to know what to do when you are at your stand. You also need to check certain things before you go. This talk will give you invaluable hints and tips on a successful sales plan and managing and achieving realistic targets. It will also give you the heads up on potential snags and hidden costs.

6pm: Press on without pressure…
The temptation in business is always to say yes to too many things and end up running out of product and or/steam. This session is a useful discussion on how to scale up your business sensibly and sustainably. It will focus on how to finance growth as well as pinpointing potential grant options. Slow and steady wins the race.




  • Saturday 30th September


10.30am: Mind Yourself as well as your Business
Burnout is a common problem in business, especially with self-employed small producers. They tend to eat, sleep and breathe what they do, which is not good for them or their families. Life is all about striking the right balance between work and play. Happy people are more productive.

12noon: Don’t take it for Granted
So many businesses are sticking their heads in the sand. Barring seismic political change, Brexit will happen and it will have a major impact on how you do business. This session looks ahead to the challenges Brexit will bring along with potential opportunities. Find out what assistance, strategies and aids are out there to help plan.

3pm: Get your Story straight
If you can’t get your story across, you can’t sell your product. You need to be able to catch a journalist’s attention and know what they are looking for. It is devilishly difficult to get coverage these days but knowing what the media looks for is half the battle. So, too, is responding quickly to their requests and not badgering people. There is a world of difference between being dogged and being pushy.



The Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards, which take place every year on the last weekend in September, in Dingle, Co. Kerry, are the largest blind-tasted food awards on the island. More than 2500 products were entered this year.

All Winners will be announced on Saturday 30th, September and you can find out more about the Blas Na hEireann Irish Food Awards at www.IrishFoodAwards.com.

Follow the Blas Na hEireann Awards on Twitter by clicking the link:
and on the Official social media hashtag #Blas2017

See you in Dingle!

Zack

West Cork named as Foodie Destination of Ireland 2017

West Cork was recently announced as the winner of Restaurant Associations of Ireland (RAI)  Foodie Destinations 2017 competition, sponsored by FBD Insurance. The winner was announced at an event held in the Headfort Arms Hotel, Kells, in the home of last year’s winners, Boyne Valley Food Series, on 29th August.

Nora Rice and Nora Collins from West Cork, Foodie Destinations of Ireland Winner 2017

After a rigorous few weeks of applications, regional judging visits and over 10,000 online votes, West Cork was declared the winner after beating out some of the best finalists that the competition has seen to date.



From events and programmes like the annual Taste of West Cork Food Festival and Cork Character Cafes, to the pride and passion that West Cork food producers and retailers have about their locally made products, they have set the benchmark for food tourism in Ireland.

 Liam Edwards, President of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, presents West Cork with the Winners Trophy

This year’s judges were Zack Gallagher and Wendy Kavanagh, the co-founders of Irish Food Tours.

“The excellent collaboration between food provider, chef and food producer with the tourism industry is generating amazing potentials for the future development of Ireland as a world class food destination” said Zack Gallagher. “The food and tourism offerings all over the island of Ireland and the use of modern media is changing the perception of Irish food as seen from abroad. This was most evident in the ten regions that reached the Foodie Destinations of Ireland 2017 final.”

Wendy Kavanagh added “What really stood out for me was the passion and pride displayed by the people involved at each destination.”



The top five finalists in this year’s Foodie Destinations 2017 competition are as follows:
1st. West Cork, 2nd. Boyne Valley, 3rd. Kilkenny, 4th. Kinsale and 5th. West Waterford.

The five remaining finalists, all of whom demonstrated spectacular efforts in their applications and finalist's visits were: Sligo, Monaghan, Cong, Loop Head Peninsula and Galways West End.

The West Cork Foodie Destinations team during their Finalists Visit with judge Wendy Kavanagh

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI, presented the award to representatives of West Cork's Foodie Destinations application saying, "It was incredible to see the high calibre of applications for this year’s Foodie Destinations. As food tourism grows in popularity – it is great to see so many places putting local food at the forefront of the visitor experience and like West Cork, enhancing their food tourism offering year on year."

Congratulations to West Cork as Winners of the Foodie Destinations 2017 award which is sure to boost the region's profile as an outstanding food destination in Ireland.

WIN a WEEKEND PASS FOR 2 for A TASTE OF DONEGAL FOOD FESTIVAL 2017

From humble beginnings in 2008, A Taste of Donegal has grown into one of the most spectacular and looked forward to food festival on the Irish Food Calendar. The 2017 Taste of Donegal Food Festival takes place this weekend on Friday 25th, Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th of August.



This amazing food festival attracts food lovers from all over the world to the beautiful tented village on the Pier in Donegal Town, facing out to Donegal Bay and surrounded by a backdrop of the Blue Stack Mountains! The success of this three day celebration of great food and drink is due to the vibrant personalities of the celebrity and local chefs who will be cooking up a storm over the weekend, the wonderful food produces and their produce and the amazing work of a small but totally dedicated committee head by Mary and Ernan McGettigan.

Food lovers will also enjoy over 120 food and drink exhibitors and top hotels and restaurants from all over the island of Ireland who will be showcasing and selling their produce, wine and craft beers with tastings from an huge variety of food ranging from, confectionery, meat, fish, dairy products and specialty foods.

Photo Credit - A wonderful evening view of A Taste of Donegal Food Festival by Mark Wickam

This Donegal Food Festival weekend includes some high profile cookery demonstrations with  some of Ireland top celebrity Irish chefs such as Gary O’Hanlon, Neven Maguire,  Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio, Kevin Dundon, Brian McDermott, Edward Hayden, Shane Smith, Gearóid Lynch and Actor turned chef, Simon Delaney and more!



There are more cookery demos and exhibitions from local Donegal Celebrity Chefs Zack Gallagher, Anthony Armstrong, Maurice Mc Geehan, Kieran Duey, Mick Mc Crudden, Martin Anderson and Martin Hernandez.



The event will also include a tutored Cocktail Masterclass by leading experts Coole Swan, and A Live Gin Distillation Masterclass in association with Dicey Reilly’s Ballyshannon and delivered by Gin Ambassador Paul Flynn & Distiller James McKenna from Listoke Distillery & Gin School Drogheda.



Ciaran Kennedy (Hunny Pots) and Sian Breslin (Donegal Manor and Cookery School) will showcase their specialist skills in planning healthy meals without spending a fortune, recipes to keep the body healthy and happy, cocktail making using fresh fruits, proper ice, decent spirits and balanced measures and specialised Gin tasting, “Hunny Pots” tray bakes made from 100% pure and natural Wexford (but he's a Donegal man) honey!

Donegal chef Brian McDermott is the MC for the whole weekend at A Taste of Donegal
MC for the whole weekend of this year's A Taste of Donegal, is Donegal chef Brian McDermott, who has an excellent reputation for keeping things running smooth on the demo stages and for interviewing small local food producers and getting them to share their food story to the audience.

The 2017 A Passion To Inspire Chefs Competition will take place under the watchful eye of Anthony Armstrong (WACS), Peter Griffths (BCF), Gerard M. Molloy (ACF) and Bob Mc Donald (MCGB). Entrants are required to cook and present two different dishes, a starter and a main course, each for two covers, showcasing the best of Irish produce.

The Agri Aware Mobile Farm will be at the Taste of Donegal Food Festival

Another new attraction this year is the excellent Agri Aware Mobile Farm. This independent agri-food educational body's interactive attraction is a great way for children to follow the “Farm to Fork” journey of their food in a fun and interactive way.

Ireland's comical celebrity chef Joe Shannon & comedian Frank Forde will be cooking and having a laugh in the Cookery Comedy Theatre. There may even be a bit of singing and dancing thrown in! As Chef Joe says, “We'll teach you everything in the culinary world that you probably don’t need to know!"

There will also be free admission to Donegal Town Castle all day on Sunday 28th August.

The 2017 Taste Of Donegal Food Festival opens on Friday 25th August at 4pm. The Official Opening will be preformed by Dr Séan Duffy Head of School of  Tourism LYIT Killybegs at 7.00 pm.

The opening event will be hosted by TV3 Star Noel Cunningham, who is also the General Manager of the local Harvey’s Point Country Hotel. Friday evening will conclude with the amazing annual Fireworks display which takes place over the reflective flat calm waters of Donegal Bay.


Fireworks at the Donegal Town Food Festival - A Taste Of Donegal - pic by Zack Gallagher
The annual Fireworks at th Taste of Donegal are an amazing sight!

A Taste of Donegal is truly a food lovers dream and will showcase Donegal Town, the surrounding area as a region of high quality restaurants and hotels, with a vibrant and growing artisan food network!

Admission is €6.00 per adult, €1.00 per child, €15.00 for a weekend pass.

For the full programme of events and more info check out www.atasteofdonegal.com and see their Facebook page A Taste of Donegal.


WIN a WEEKEND PASS FOR 2 for A TASTE OF DONEGAL FOOD FESTIVAL!

I have an exclusive Weekend pass for 2 people to give away for a lucky reader.
Simply LIKE & SHARE the A Taste of Donegal Facebook Page

adding a comment saying "I want to win the Weekend Pass for 2"

The Winner will be announced on Thursday evening (24th August 2017) and the Passes will be available on the Gate at the Food Festival from Friday morning. Good Luck!

Donegal Town is my Home Town and I think it's the Best Food Festival in Ireland!

I'll be there and look forward to seeing you at A Taste Of Donegal Food Festival!
Zack


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The Irish Food Guide Blog www.IrishFoodGuide.ie 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 www.IrishFoodTours.ie

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