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Some details about the Food Blog Finalists in the Blog Awards Ireland 2012

The Blog Awards Ireland 2012 Finalists List was published last night and the Irish foodie Twitasphere lit up with excitement as folks realised that they had made it into the finals of the different categories. See the Blog Awards Ireland hashtag #BlogFestIRL for more on that!

I was nominated and shortlisted too and thanks to all of you who put my Irish Food Guide blog forward for nomination. Alas, no such luck for me this year but there is plenty of time for more!

So here is a little background information on the lucky seven Irish Food Bloggers, who love to write about Food in Ireland and have made it to the Finalist's List for the best Food/Drink Blog sponsored by Glenisk.

Edible Ireland 
Kristin Jensen

Kristin Jensen, @edibleireland on Twitter, "explores the vibrant food scene here in Ireland, the people who grow it, produce it, cook it, serve it, sell it and champion it – and tells the stories behind the country’s food and artisan producers". She is a freelance editor specialising in editing cookbooks and food books. Kristin also blogs her favourite recipes for busy cooks and families at Dinner du Jour and co-founded the Irish Food Bloggers Association.

John Ferris

John Ferris, @FoodBelfast on Twitter, has worked in the newspaper industry at the Belfast Media Group since 1998 and has been a food blogger and newsprint restaurant critic since 2006, writing more than 1,000 food and drink articles – reviewing hundreds of local restaurants as well as some of the world’s best. John writes restaurant reviews for the Belfast Media Group and is also a regular contributor on the Carolyn Stewart Lunchtime Bistro show on U105 as well as writing chef profiles for Hospitality Review NI.

Donal Skehan

Donal Skehan, @DonalSkehan on Twitter, is a 25 year old home cook, food writer and Television presenter who has written three cookbooks: Good Mood Food, Kitchen Hero: Bringing Cooking Back Home and Kitchen Hero: Great Food For Less. Donal has had a meteoric rise to foodie stardom in the last few years since he started his GoodMoodFood Blog in 2007 - it is now incorporated into the website. He photographs all his own food images for his blog and books and also had two Irish number one singles with his band "Industry".

Móna Wise

Móna Wise, @WiseMona on Twitter, is the author of "The Chef & I: A Nourishing Narrative" and a food columnist with the Sunday Times. She is just completing a four year (BA-Connect Degree) course at NUIG studying German, English Literature with a specialism in Creative Writing. Her blog is a personal account of living, writing, cooking and working from home with her kids and husband Ken (The Chef). The couple "share the same parenting ethos and are raising their family one plate at a time growing and cooking wholesome, local, fresh and organic food".

Adrienne Houghton

Adrienne Houghton, @BfortheBorder on Twitter, has only been writing this great baking blog since June 2011 but her cheery style of writing, stirred in with her easy to follow recipes and wonderful photography, have given her Food Blog a large following online. Adrienne cooks, styles and photographs all the food herself with a little help from her part-time photographer husband Greig. I would be expecting a few publishers to be knocking on her door very soon with a few Cookery Book offers!

Rosanne Hewitt-Cromwell

Rosanne Hewitt-Cromwell, @likemamuse2bake on Twitter, loves to bake - it's as simple as that! On her blog she chart her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she embarks on a journey into the world of new recipes and the adaptation of old ones. She has been writing her blog since September 2009 and each recipe has it's own story. Her love of baking stems from watching, as a little girl, her Mam bake wonderful cakes and treats for her daughters in their home kitchen and she shares them all with a passion!

Nessa Robins

Nessa Robins, @Nessa_Robins on Twitter, started her Food Blog in January 2010 to coincide with cookery classes she was teaching from her home. She cooks, styles and photographs all the food for her blog and won Best Newcomer Blog 2011 in the Irish Blog Awards. Nessa writes a column for the Westmeath Independent, is the 'Family Food Expert' with Irish parenting magazine Easy Parenting and contributes to

The Full List of Finalists in all the 28 Categories can be seen HERE on the Blog Awards Ireland's website

The Blog Awards Ireland 2012 ceremony takes place in the Osprey Hotel, Naas, Co Kildare on Saturday, 13 October 2012 at 7pm. There are still Tickets available and you can buy them HERE.

UPDATE - Saturday 13th October - Blog Awards D-Day and the Best Food & Drink Blog went to... Mona Wise of

Emma Walls of Glenisk with Mona Wise  - pic:


The Michelin Star Winners for 2013 in Ireland

The Michelin Guide 2013 for UK and Ireland has been released amid a little confusion as their website released the results a little ahead of schedule and for a period of 2 hours, two new Irish additions were unsure if they had actually been given the prestigious "Star" Status! (New additions Update at end of post).

The two Irish restaurants are Galway’s Aniar and Dublin’s Locks Brasserie. The prestigious award is given to restaurants of extremely high quality and is a mark of a top-class, quality food and dining experience.

The list of Irish restaurants with a Michelin Star is:

Locks Brasserie, Protobello, Dublin - a new addition this year

Aniar, Dominick Street, Galway - a new addition this year

House Restaurant, at the Cliff House Hotel Ardmore

Chapter One Dublin

L’Ecrivain Dublin

Thornton’s at The Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin

Bon Appétit Malahide

The only restaurant in Ireland with 2 Stars is still Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin

The Michelin Great Britain & Ireland 2013 guide will be available in bookshops from 5 October at a price of €18.99.

The Michelin Guide 2014 has added Campagne in Kilkenny and The Lady Helen Restaurant at Mount Juliet in Kilkenny to the list of Irish restaurants with 1 Star each.


2012 Hotel & Catering Gold Medal Award Winners

THE EUROPE HOTEL & RESORT a chic five star resort on the shores of Lough Lein in Killarney, has been crowned the champion of Irish hospitality. 

The hotel, owned by the Liebherr Group, took top honours when it was awarded the Irish hospitality industry’s highest accolade, the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2012 at a gala ceremony in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel last night,Tuesday, 25th September.

The Europe Hotel & Resort, on the shores of Lough Lein, in Killarney
Running for more than two decades, the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards are recognised as the leading independent awards programme for the Irish hospitality industry.

Judged by hospitality experts with a proven track record in industry operations, the Gold Medal Awards recognise and reward excellence in hotels, guest houses, restaurants, spas, clubs and catering operations across the island of Ireland.

As well as the supreme award, a total of 17 category awards were presented at this year's black tie ceremony, which was attended by 400 leading hoteliers, restaurateurs and caterers from across Ireland. (See winners below.) The Europe Hotel scooped the top title after winning the hotly-contested Gold Medal Award for Best Five Star Hotel, sponsored by Edward Dillon & Co, earlier in the night.


Gold Medal Award for Five Star Hotels, sponsored by Edward Dillon & Co
The Europe Hotel & Resort, Kerry

Gold Medal Award for Four Star Hotels, sponsored by Digiweb
The Lodge at Castle Leslie, Monaghan

Gold Medal Award for Three Star Hotels, sponsored by Tourism Ireland
Downhill House Hotel, Mayo

Gold Medal Award for Country Houses, sponsored by Aon
Lough Inagh Lodge, Galway

Gold Medal Award for Town Houses, sponsored by Aon
Ariel House, Dublin

Gold Medal Award for Fine Dining Restaurants, sponsored by Churchill in association with Bunzl McLaughlin
Restaurant Forty One at Residence Members Club

Gold Medal Award for Bistros & Brasseries, sponsored by Champagne Pannier by Classic Drinks
Aldridge Lodge, Wexford

Gold Medal Award for Casual Dining, sponsored by Gleeson incorporating Gilbeys
The Cornstore, Cork

Gold Medal Award for Ethnic Restaurants, sponsored by Cobra
L'Arco Italian Restaurant, Clare

Gold Medal Award for Cafés & Tearooms, sponsored by Bunzl McLaughlin
The Tea & Garden Rooms, Clare

Gold Medal Award for Spas, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland
Monart Destination Spa

Gold Medal Award for Member Clubs, sponsored by Tech Refrigeration & Air Conditioning
Carton House, Kildare

Gold Medal Award for In House Catering, sponsored by Keelings
Aramark Ireland at Oracle, Dublin

Gold Medal Award for Institutional Catering, sponsored by IFSA (Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance)
Haven Bay Care Centre, Cork

Gold Medal Award for Wine Experience, sponsored by Gleeson incorporating Gilbeys
The K Club, Kildare

Gold Medal Award for Best Newcomer, sponsored by BWG Food Service
Masterchefs at The Pavilion, UL, Limerick

Gold Medal Award for Customer Experience, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland
BrookLodge Hotel & Spa, Wicklow

The Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2012
The Europe Hotel & Resort, Kerry

Hotel & Catering review is published by
You can visit the Magazine website at


Details & Rules for the Galway International Oyster Opening Championship

The World Oyster Opening Championships take place as part of the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, which takes place, in Galway, over the weekend of Friday 28th - Sunday 30th September 2012. One of Europe’s longest-running food extravaganzas, this festival was launched in September 1954. These days, the event is one of the biggest on Ireland’s social calendar, drawing more than 10,000 visitors.

Each year hundreds of competitors from around the world vie for a place in the prestigious Galway International Oyster Opening Championships. The winners from each country, with enthusiastic supporters in tow, travel to the city of Galway, in the West of Ireland to compete for the world title. 

Oyster openers from all over Ireland will be competing to oust the reigning Irish champion, Michael Moran from his well-earned title of National Oyster Opening Champion on Friday 28th September 2012. Michael has a long pedigree as an Oyster champ: World Oyster Opening Champion 2006. European Oyster Opening Champion 2005, 2009 & 2012. Irish Oyster Opening Champion 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011.

All entrants must be capable of opening 18 oysters in less than 120 seconds. This is the qualifying lower limit for the competition and the actual quantity to be opened will be 30 oysters. Competitors are judged on time and presentation.

Michael Moran, Irish Oyster Opening Champion, in action.

The Guinness World Oyster Opening Championship features contestants from every continent competing for the world title and valuable prizes. This takes place on Saturday 29th SeptemberThe 2011 champion is Xavier Caille of Belgium with a final time of opening 30 Oysters in 2 minutes 40 seconds.

The competitors are expected to open 30 oysters. Points are awarded primarily for the speed of opening 30 oysters. Judges award bonus points for presentation of the tray of opened oysters. A bonus of from 1 to 30 points is awarded by the Judges at their discretion for a tray of oysters that are presented in a neat and orderly manner.

There are several ways to Open oysters, some are faster than others, some create less grit in the meat. You can see how I open an Oyster by clicking HERE
The  Oyster Opening Championships are taken very seriously by both judges & competitors and the rules are strictly adhered to by all involved...

Official Rules for the Galway International Oyster Opening Championship

1. Only one entry from each country will be accepted and the committee shall have sole authority in determining the eligibility of a competitor to compete in the competition.

2. A sub-committee of the judges will select only the finest Galway Bay Oysters (Ostrea Edulis), which shall be not less than 76 millimeters in diameter.

3. The opening tables will be approximately ninety centimeters from the ground.

4. Each competitor will be required to open 30 oysters. He/She will receive a sealed box of oysters on stage and should ensure it contains 30 oysters prior to the start.

5 The boxes will be allocated to the competitors by lottery and each competitor’s tray will bear a code name.

6. The oysters must be opened on the board provided and presented on the tray provided, nothing else can be used for presentation purposes.

7. The competitors must present their oysters face upwards and may present them all either on the deep or flat shell.

8. In opening the oysters, the competitor will only use a knife, a cloth and any board supplied by the Committee. The competitor cannot use any support, holder, or, any other implement whatsoever. The Oyster Knives must also be approved by the Judges.

9. Competitors must be aged 18 or over.

10. Competitors must wear the aprons provided.

11. Competitors may wear gloves or any protective covering on their hands.

12. The Festival Compere will start each heat of the competition. Each competitor will start opening on his order.

13. Each competitor must indicate that they are finished, by ringing the hand bell provided. The competitor must not touch the tray after ringing this bell or disqualification may result.

14. Each competitor may be requested to carry their own tray of oysters to a designated point, and they will be responsible for the safety of their tray up to that point.

15. The Judges will examine the trays of oysters with the following points in mind :- Good appearance, well opened, without flaws. Totally severed from shell. Mussel intact – not torn, cut, sliced, wounded, and without blood. Orderly and neat appearance.

16. Points are awarded primarily for the speed of opening 30 oysters. Judges award bonus points for presentation of the tray of opened oysters. A bonus of from 1 to 30 points is awarded by the Judges at their discretion for a tray of oysters that are presented in a neat and orderly manner. The test for the Judges is how attractive the tray would look for a customer in a hotel or restaurant.

17. The following penalty points may be imposed:-
a) An oyster not severed from its shell - 4 points
b) An oyster with blood - 30 points
c) An oyster with shell or grit on its flesh - 4 points
d) An oyster, the flesh of which is cut or sliced - 4 points
e) An oyster not presented upright - 4 points
f) For each oyster not opened or presented - 30 points

(If an oyster shell is presented empty, or the flesh only is presented, the oyster will be deemed, not to have been presented).

18. The winner will be determined by the lowest combined time, bonus and penalties. In the event of a draw, the competitor with the lower penalty shall be deemed the winner. If they are still equal the competitor with the highest bonus award will be declared the winner. The judges will also award a prize for the best presentation based on the highest bonus awarded.

Click here for the current world Oyster Opening Championship Rankings.
Click here for listing of previous World Oyster Opening Champions.

For Full Details of Events and Ticket Bookings see

You can see my recipe for Grilled Oysters with Bacon & a Blue Cheese Crumb HERE


Limited places for Jack McCarthy's practical "Pig in a Day" Course

In recent years, here in Ireland, a great interest has grown in home-curing and sausage-making. Jack and Tim McCarthy, of Kanturk, Co Cork, are now offering a limited number of people an introduction to the not so basic craft of Butchery.

Their day-long course includes how to make sausages, cure bacon and hams make black pudding, and use every morsel of the pig. You will be shown the techniques and skills required, from primal cuts and knife skills to cures and processing. Basically they will teach you everything you need to know to get your pig from the field to the fork!

All you can eat from one little pig!
This ‘Practical Pig’ course will give a once-off insight into pig production for chefs, foodies and people interested in learning more about pork processing. They will educate you in all areas of pork butchering over the course of a day giving practical exhibitions in slaughtering, boning, trimming, portioning, curing, sausage making and pudding making. 

There will also be a lecture on breeding, feeding and free range pig farming. There will be recipes a talk from Springfort Hall Hotel's Executive Chef Brian McCarthy and a chance to roll up your sleeves and get involved in every stage of production. 

Tim's Great, Great Grandfather, Callaghan McCarthy, at his shop in 1892   
McCarthy's Butchers use traditional techniques and innovative new ideas and Jack & Tim McCarthy have become some of Ireland’s most prominent and celebrated meat producers. Tim is now the 5th generation of the family to be involved in the butchery trade.

They have won two gold medals and a bronze medal from La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin, or the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Blackpudding. This gave them the highest achievement of any participant in Europe at the event. They received Gold awards for le boudin traditionelle and le boudin a grilliere and the Bronze was for le boudin creatif.

The State Banquet, for Queen Elizabeth in March 2011, used the best of Irish Artisan food
Jack developed their "Boars Head" pudding in 2010 and it was named in honour of Kanturk, "Ceann Tuirc" means the head of the Boar in Gaelic. This was served to Queen Elizabeth as part of the state banquet on her visit to Ireland. At the Irish Food Writer’s Guild awards in March 2012 Jack McCarthy received a Special Award for his Exceptional Contribution to Irish Food.

Practical Pig Course will run from 10am - 5pm on Sunday 21st October 2012. Participants will receive lunch on the day and a gift pack at the end of the course. Places are limited. Introductory Offer - €195 per person


Details of Events at Westport Food Festival all this weekend 21st - 23rd September

Westport Food Festival, a three day event, is on this weekend 21st - 23rd September. The festival showcases the best food that Westport, Mayo, and the surrounding counties of the western seaboard have on offer, along with a variety of cooking demonstrations, food workshops & competitions.

Westport town centre will once again be turned into a tented Food Village with stalls offering the very best of food from Mayo producers, restaurants, hotels, cafes and chefs. The festival's Gala Dinner, Come Dine with Me is already Sold Out!

Restaurants, hotels and bars all over Westport will offer a €25 three-course Westport Food Festival menu showcasing ingredients from local food producers. Look out for the Westport Food Festival logos on menus!

Taste all the best food products that Westport and the west of Ireland has to offer
Everyone now knows that Westport is the best place to live in Ireland and the Westport Food Festival reinforces that we have the best food producers, chefs, hotels, restaurants and pubs and allows us to further showcase Mayo’s food credentials”, says Barney Clarke, co-chairperson, Westport Food Festival.

The Festival has a packed line-up of both local and celebrity chefs, fishermen, food producers, wine and beer gurus and restaurateurs giving demonstrations, talks, advice, opinion, hints and tips with food and drink tastings all weekend! One of the more unusual and interesting, is a demonstration of Bronze Age Celtic Cuisine with The Druid Chef, Rory Morahan. Rory is using his love of Irish & history combined with his passion for traditional cooking methods to show what bronze-age Irish people would have eaten and how it was cooked.

Learn the art of authentic Irish Celtic Cuisine with The Druid Chef, Rory Morahan 
A series of Talks on Friday 21st, entitled "Recipes for Success - The Business of Food" will provide idea generation, shared knowledge and showcase how various food-related enterprises achieve business success. The event is being organised as part of Mayo Ideas Week with Mayo County Enterprise Board to offer a one-day business event for small food businesses, food lovers and those with an interest in the food industry. Special Guest speakers include John McKenna, Publisher, The Bridgestone Guide to Ireland.

The Weekend is Packed Full of Great Foodie Events
for all the Family!

Saturday, Sept. 22

Westport Food Festival Village
The Octagon
"The Art of Cooking Salmon" by Rory Morahan, The Druid Chef
The Octagon
Aine Maguire Foraged Ingredients: Cluaisins with homemade Dilisk Bread, Lemon Posset with Wild Froghan Berries, Wild Mushroom Soup
The Octagon
Farm to Fork Meat Cuts by Jack & Eddie O'Malley

Danny Coleman, GMIT “What is Molecular Gastronomy, will it change the future of food preparation and taste?”

“Square Food Gardening” - How to grow your own garden in a small space, hosted by Cormac Langan, Westport College of Further Education
Westport Further Education College, Newport Road
Food Fringe Producers Market & Workshop
The Clock & Clock Tavern
Cooking Shellfish in Five Easy Minutes! Kate O’Connor Kennedy

Cooking Pork with Imagination - Local meat producers, O’Malleys, talk about their products

What is Celiac Cooking? - Great cooking tips for making it tasty!”Evelyn O’Conno

Filleting Fish - Sounds easy? A masterclass by Sean O’Grady, local fisherman

Westport Bee Keepers showcase an observational hive and demo how to use local honey in cooking
All Day
The Clock
Visit the “Druids Den” and experience the “Riverdance of Cookery”. Learn the art of authentic Irish Celtic Cuisine with The Druid Chef, Rory Morahan
Courtyard behind Westport Tourism Office, James Street
Kiddie Korner Activites
Courtyard behind Westport Tourism Office, James Street 
The Grace O'Malley/Granuaile Story
All Day
Courtyard behind Westport Tourism Office, James Street 
Gourmet Greenway Picnic Taster - Cycle from Westport to Newport - A picnic will be provided
11:00am - €20 per person (includes bike rental and picnic)
Meeting point at courtyard behind Westport Tourism Office, James Street
Wine Tasting
7:00pm-9:00pm - €20 per person
Hotel Westport, Newport Road
Late Night Outdoors Foodie Movie
The Laneway (off Bridge Street)

Sunday, Sept. 23

Mushroom Foraging at Knockranny Woods Pick and learn about the mushroom family with Michael Mulholland
Meeting Point: Wyatt Hotel, The Octagon, Westport
Family Foodie Treasure Hunt
Meeting Point; Outside Westport Church, the Mall
Bilungual Food Demo: Lochlann O Mearáin: Clew Bay seafood starter: how to prepare Crab Claws, Lobster, Salmon gravalax, baked oysters, foccacia bread and pickled cucumber.
The Quay Marquee
Wine Tasting: Presented by Irish Times wine writer John Wilson and Wine Australia’s John Mc Donnell
1:00-3:00pm - €20 per person
Carlton Atlantic Coast Hotel

Additonal Events at the Quay

The Quay Seafood & Local Produce BBQ
12-5:00pm - 5 food options at €10 per adult
The Quay Marquee 
How to Prepare and Smoke Fresh Fish and Meat Products” - Hosted by Doug Priddy from “A Shore Thing”
The Quay Marquee 
Mussel Production in Clew Bay. Hosted by Padraig Gannon of Croagh Patrick Seafoods
The Quay Marquee 
Kiddie Cooking Demo - Cooking up your Cúpla Focal A cookery workshop for children with Lochlann Ó Mearáin
11.00am - 12.00pm
Westport Woods Hotel
RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) Road Show
All Day
The Quay
Westport Tourism Dessert Competiton UP TO €1,000 TO BE WON!
Carlton Atlantic Coast Hotel
Connaght Gold Presentations: Food Demo’s, Artisan Food Producers offering food tastings, Organic Vegetable production and Foraging.
All Day
Connaght Gold, Lodge Road, Westport.
40 Mile Tasting Menu; experience locally produced food within a 40 mile radius of Westport for €40 (5 courses). Hosted by Sinead and Jose Barroso of Sio Rio Restaurant
7:00pm - €40 per person. For tickets please call (098) 28944
Sol Rio Restaurant, Bridge Street, Westport

The Westport Food Festival committee is asking people to ‘Like’ the Westport Food Festival on follow @WestportFood on Twitter. 
For more details see


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