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Ireland’s First No Salt Cookery School Opens in Donegal

Ireland’s first ‘No Salt’ Cookery School has opened in Moville, Inishowen, Co. Donegal. A completely new concept to Ireland, the ‘Brian McDermott Cookery School’ has been opened by Donegal Chef Brian McDermott, aka ‘The No Salt Chef’.

Following his diagnosis with a heart condition five years ago, Brian completely changed his life and cooking style, establishing a reputation for himself as “The No Salt Chef” and cooking great tasting, accessible and affordable food, without adding salt.

Salt is a high priority issue for Ireland, with the average daily intake for adults at 10 grams, well over the Recommended Daily Allowance of four grams. Salt intake plays a critical role in regulating blood pressure, particularly important as Ireland has high mortality and morbidity rates from heart disease and stroke relative to other developed countries.

Having experienced increasing demand from people who have met and attended his cookery demonstrations across Ireland, including ‘Bloom in the Park’, Brian has fulfilled a long-held dream opening Ireland’s first ‘No Salt’ Cookery School.  . The new state-of-the-art cookery school offers fun, informative hand-on demonstrations accommodating up to 15 people.

 “I am very excited to launch Ireland’s first ‘no salt’ cookery school in my hometown of Moville, Inishowen. I cook clean and honest food with no hidden ingredients or added salt. I let the ingredients speak for themselves and instead of adding salt, I use herbs and spices that complement, but don’t overshadow the main dish. It’s important that my food is healthy, doesn’t contain any added salt, but above all tastes fantastic and this is something I am passionate to teach” said Brian McDermott, ‘The No Salt Chef’ and founder of the Brian McDermott Cookery School.

Upcoming classes, all teaching the ‘No Salt’ philosophy include:

‘Appreciating Seafood’, teaching participants to master delicious seafood dishes using the freshest fish straight off the boats from the nearby Greencastle Fishing Harbour.

‘Mastering Sunday Lunch’ – making the most of Sundays, a fantastic and fun course helping participants to perfect a tasty, relaxing Sunday lunch
‘Learn to Bake’ – Mastering the essentials of affordable and delicious bakery –without using salt!

‘Going to College’ – perfect for young people leaving home for the first time, this course teaches how to cook simple, delicious and healthy meals on a budget. With one fifth of Irish teens now overweight or obese, this course teaches young people to cook and eat healthily, a particular passion of Brian’s.

‘Cooking on a Budget’ – where Brian will show how eat to better for less using local, seasonal ingredients. 

The Brian McDermott Cookery School is also providing a unique Chef’s Table, providing groups of up to 14 people with a very personal culinary journey of a seven course tasting menu, where guests will dine while Brian cooks explaining the dish and using the best of local produce. Guests are greeted with a complimentary drink and canapé’s and the ‘Chef’s Table’ experience is already becoming very popular for family gatherings, girly nights out and celebrating special occasions. 

Aiming to attract participants from across Ireland, North and South, Brian has partnered with the nearby four star Redcastle Oceanfront, Golf and Spa Hotel for accommodation for the school.

Chef Brian McDermott also has a Culinary Arts Degree, graduating top of his class.  A successful career working in the kitchens of some of his native Donegal’s most lauded establishments and a senior global product development role in Kerry Group ended when Brian was diagnosed with a heart condition. As a result, Brian completely changed his life and his cooking style and quickly established a reputation for himself as “The No Salt Chef”, cooking great tasting, accessible and affordable food without adding salt. 

Brian is author of his first and very successful cookery book, ‘Reunite with Food’, regularly works with award-winning chef, Neven Maguire and hosts cookery demonstrations across the country. He presents his own weekly cookery slot on BBC radio and is a regular contributor to many Irish press titles. 

For more on The Brian McDermott Cookery School, which is situated at Carrownaffe, Moville, Co Donegal and to Book Classes, visit or Tel: +353 (0)74 93 85921.


Taste of Donegal Food Festival 2013

The Taste Of Donegal Food Festival is celebrating it's 5th Birthday this year and following the huge success of the last four years it has established itself as the premier annual food and drink event in the North West of Ireland.

This year's Festival has once again gathered together the top restaurants, hotels, food producers, drink and life-style product providers to a tented village on the Pier, with the back drop of the Bluestack Mountains and Donegal Bay. Over the course of the weekend you will taste and purchase some of the finest food and drink that the Northwest region has to offer.

This year the Demonstration Area and the Main Marquee are even bigger with more space to enjoy the ambiance of this excellent foodie event. This also means that there are even more exhibitors than ever with over 100 participating and a waiting list of those who would love to get on board!

I had to dig out this pic of my good friend Davy Crawford
 - quite a few people thought he was Paolo Tullio at last year's Donegal Food Festival!
During the festival there are tutored wine and beer tastings as well as food demonstrations. The special feature demonstrations are by Neven Maguire, Kevin Dundon, Gary O’Hanlon, Jack Stein (son of Rick Stein, Padstow in Cornwall), NoSaltChef Brian Mc Dermott & Joe Shannon.

Neven Maguire & Kevin Dundon with local Donegal junior chef winner Stacey Carr Kennedy

The local Donegal chef demos are by Anthony Armstrong, Martin Hernandez & Emmett McCourt with Maire Dufficey from an Bord Bia also hosting a special Cooking demonstration. I'll be doing a wee demo on Saturday morning for my friend Sian Breslin from

Frank Pasquier, Artisan Baker & Confectioner from Donegal Town

Master Classes with tastings will be given by: Rob Mc Hardy (Cocktail Mixologist at Silencio in Paris), Frank Pasquier Le Fournil (Bread & Pastry Master Baker), Donegal Brewing Company (Specialist Local Beers), Richard Finney (The Wine Buff), Meal Planning by Sian Breslin of

New to the Festival will be a Cookery School Live Show with the NoSaltChef Brian McDermott.

The 2013 "Passion To Inspire" chefs competition will take place under the watchful eye of Anthony Armtrong, a judge from the World Association of Chefs Society with Sir Peter Griffths M.B.E. and Mr Bob Mc Donald, Judges from the Master Chefs of Great Britain. This competition has attracted entries from Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Donegal and has the potential to grow into something much bigger.

There will be two Exhibitor Competitions: one for the Most Attractive Stand judged by Donegal County Enterprise Board and the other for the Best Product of the Festival judged by Bord Bia, Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland & LYIT Killybegs.

I'm looking forward to the Cocktail Demonstration by my old buddy, Rob Mc Hardy
who is the Cocktail Mixologist at Silencio in Paris

The Festival opens its doors on Friday 23rd of August at 4.00pm & the official opening will take place at 7.00pm performed by Mr Paul McLoone former CEO of Failte Ireland Northwest. MC for the opening will be TV3′s (and Donegal’s very own) Mr Noel Cunningham, music by the singing chef Eugene Ginty sponsored by Harvey’s Point Country Hotel.  

The Friday night Fireworks display over the high tide in Donegal Bay has become a special highlight of the opening night of the Taste of Donegal Food Festival over the last five years and this year is going to be no exception with a special treat promised.

A pic I took last year of the Fireworks over Donegal Bay

The Food Festival is located on the main Pier in the centre of Donegal Town and to see more details and the full weekend's program, Click here: A Taste of Donegal Program 2013.


Doolin Craft Beer Festival in County Clare from 23rd to 25th August

The number of microbreweries operating in Ireland has increased significantly in recent years due a surge in public interest in independent craft beers. That’s according to the organisers of the 2nd annual Doolin Craft Beer Festival in County Clare from 23rd to 25th August.

15 domestically produced craft beers from some of Ireland’s best microbreweries will be amongst dozens of beers and ciders to be showcased at the festival, which is being hosted by Hotel Doolin and will also feature some of Clare’s best musicians along with food from local Artisan producers.

Among the Irish microbreweries showcasing craft beers will be The Carlow Brewing Company (Carlow), 8 Degrees Brewing (Cork), The Dungarvan Brewing Company (Waterford), The White Gypsy Brewery (Tipperary), The Franciscan Well Brewery (Cork), Galway Hooker (Roscommon), Trouble Brewing (Kildare) and Stonewell Cider (Cork).

“Ireland has traditionally had a long history of brewing with almost every small town in Ireland at one point having a microbrewery. The rise to dominance of the larger beer companies however, saw Irish beer production decline,” explained Hotel Doolin General Manager, Donal Minihane.

He added: “At the beginning of the 19th century there were over 200 breweries in the country, producing a wide range of Irish beer. This number dropped significantly by the beginning of the 20th century due to the dominance of a few large and famous breweries. By 2007, there were only 12 breweries in the country, with most producing mass-produced beer, backed by formidable marketing budgets. However, independent craft beers have seen an explosion in popularity in recent years with increasing numbers of pubs around the country now serving Irish beers and ciders.”

He continued: “As with the food we serve in our restaurant and bar we also feel that we should be supporting indigenous suppliers when it comes to beers and there is no shortage of quality there. We stock a large range of Irish Craft Beers in Fitzpatrick’s Bar and we have seen a great response from our customers particularly our foreign guests who want to sample local beers rather than beers they can get in their own country.”

“Following on from this, last year saw the launch of our own craft beer ‘Dooliner Beer’ which has proved extremely popular with both locals and tourists alike. Nowadays, it’s not just about slapping a pint of lager up on the counter and walking off, customers want to know where the beer comes from, what’s in it, how it is made and the history behind it,” added Mr. Minihane.

This year Hotel Doolin will again partner with Seamus O’Hara who has been instrumental in the re-emergence of craft brewing in Ireland. After seeing the wider range of beers available in bars in the United States and continental Europe, Seamus O'Hara and his brother Eamonn established the Carlow Brewing Company in 1996. Due to the dominance of macro beers in Ireland at the time, the brewery was initially very export orientated. Interest in the brewery and craft beer in general, has increased.

The upcoming Doolin Craft Beer Festival will also focus strongly on artisan and local food producers. Local food suppliers will join BBQ specialist and Hotel Doolin Head Chef Peter Jackson by hosting stands each day from midday to 10pm. Tickets cost €10.00 each & include a free commemorative festival glass.
Mr. Minihane noted that Hotel Doolin is a strong supporter of artisan food and drink producers throughout the hotel in the bar, restaurant and in the Hotel’s very own artisan food shop ‘The Doolin Pantry.’ Hotel Doolin even has its very own ‘Slow Food Wedding Package,’ which incorporates the very best of local produce.

For a Full List of all the Craft Beers appearing at the festival see:

The annual Doolin Craft Beer Festival will take place on the grounds of Hotel Doolin from 23-25 August 2013. Further information is available from or on Facebook at or +353 65707411.

8% Increase in Irish Food & Drink Exports for 2013

Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) recently commissioned this Infographic to visualize the rise in Irish food and drink exports in the first half of 2013. There has been over 8% increase since 2012.

The prospects for food and drink exports remains broadly positive for the remainder of 2013 as good demand for dairy and beef combined with a stronger Prepared Foods performance and further steady growth in beverages all point to exports for the year increasing by around 7% to approach €9.7 billion.

It makes for interesting reading a points to great potential for the future of the Food industry in Ireland.

To read more about how we hope to develop Irish Food Tourism into the future see


FOOD&WINE Magazine Restaurant of the Year Awards 2013 Winners

The winners of the 13th annual FOOD&WINE Magazine / Maison Louis Latour Restaurant of the Year Awards were announced at a gala luncheon on Sunday 25 August at The Four Seasons, Dublin 4. These awards, now in their 13th year, are considered one of the most prestigious and authoritative culinary awards in the Irish calendar. 

Recognising the best Irish restaurants and culinary talent, diners from all over Ireland were invited to nominate their favourite restaurants and chefs, with the top entries going forward for deliberation by a national culinary panel of judges, made up of industry experts and national food critics. After much deliberation on each category, each judge votes in secret for their top 10 in each category, including the top 10 restaurants and chefs from all four provinces, with Dublin treated separately.

The national awards for Overall Best Chef and and Overall Best Restaurant are put through a further judging process, whereby the entire judging panel and all previous panel members vote electronically and in private to ensure a measured choice for these important awards. All of the regional and national winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 25 August. In addition to Best Chef and Best Restaurant, awards will also be presented for Best Sommelier, Best Service, Best World Cuisine and Best Wine Experience.

“In recent years, Ireland’s food sector has faced difficult business conditions, however, many chefs and restaurateurs have responded with better value and creativity. The 2013 shortlist sees some excellent new talents emerging, but also shows that old favourites continue to maintain standards while adapting with the times and offering exceptional quality and value for money,” commented Miriam Atkins, editor of FOOD&WINE Magazine. Maison Louis Latour returns for a second year as title sponsor with the other fine wineries in the Febvre portfolio sponsoring individual national awards.

Gregory Alken, sales and marketing director of Febvre & Company and representing the title sponsor, Maison Louis Latour, reiterated that point adding, “Working in collaboration with the hospitality industry and partnering restaurants and food emporia around the 32 counties of Ireland, we admire how this sector has embraced the challenges by making so many changes, improving standards and yet offering even better value while promoting fresh Irish food at its best. We at Febvre together with Maison Louis Latour take great satisfaction and pride at being associated with such a resourceful industry that showcases the very best of Irish produce in an innovative and local way”.

Louis Fabrice Latour is the 11th generation of the Latour family 
Maison Louis Latour, was founded in 1797 and has become a natural custodian of an ancient tradition.  Authentic to its roots, it has always remained a point of honour to remain independent and family-owned and is now run by Louis Fabrice Latour who represents the 11th generation of the family.  Their wines are celebrated around the world for the elegance and balance that have always outlined the vinification practice of Maison Louis Latour.

And the FOOD&WINE Magazine
Restaurant of the Year Awards 2013 Winners are..

Best Restaurant Ulster SHORTLIST
Balloo House, Down
Browns Restaurant, Derry
Deanes Restaurant, Howard St, Belfast
James Street South, Belfast
MacNean House and Restaurant, Cavan
Ox, Belfast
Rayanne House, Belfast
Shu, Belfast
The Boat House Restaurant, Down
The Catalina Restaurant, Lough Erne, Fermanagh
WINNER The Catalina Restaurant

Best Chef Ulster SHORTLIST
Alan Foster, Tedfords, Belfast
Brian McCann, Shu, Belfast
Conor McClellend, Rayanne House, Belfast
Danny Millar, Balloo House, Down
Gearoid Lynch, The Olde Post Inn, Cavan
Joery Castel, The Boat House Restaurant, Down
Neven Maguire, MacNean House & Restaurant, Cavan
Noel McMeel, The Catalina Restaurant, Fermanagh
Simon Toye, Deanes Restaurant, Belfast
Stephen Toman, Ox, Belfast
WINNER Stephen Toman, Ox

Best Restaurant Munster SHORTLIST
Ballymaloe House, Cork
Farmgate Restaurant, Midleton, Cork
Gregan's Castle, Clare
Les Gourmandises, Cork
Longueville House Restaurant, Cork
No. 5 Fenns Quay, Cork 
The Cliff House Hotel, Waterford
The Old Convent, Tipperary
The Tannery, Waterford
Wild Honey Inn, Clare
WINNER  The Tannery

Best Chef Munster SHORTLIST
Aidan McGrath, Wild Honey Inn, Clare
David Hurley, formerly Gregans Castle, Clare
Dermot Gannon, The Old Convent, Tipperary
Eric Kavanagh, Longueville House, Cork
Eric Theze, La Boheme, Waterford
Kate Lawlor, No. 5 Fenns Quay, Cork
Martijn Kajuiter, The Cliff House, Waterford
Michael Quinn, formerly Waterford Castle, Waterford
Paul Flynn, The Tannery, Dungarvan, Waterford
Wade Murphy, 1826 Adare, Limerick
WINNER Paul Flynn, The Tannery

Best Restaurant Leinster SHORTLIST
A Caviston, Greystones, Wicklow
Aldridge Lodge Restaurant, Wexford
Campagne, Kilkenny
Campo De' Fiori, Bray
Chakra By Jaipur, Greystones
Dunbrody Country House Hotel, Wexford
Lady Helen Restaurant, Kilkenny
Sha-Roe, Carlow
The Strawberry Tree, Brooklodge, Wicklow
Viewmont House, Longford
WINNER Campagne

Best Chef Leinster SHORTLIST
Aidan McManus, King Sitric, Howth
Billy Whitty, Aldridge Lodge, Wexford
Cormac Rowe, Lady Helen Restaurant, Kilkenny 
Daniel Cruikshank, A Caviston , Greystones
Garrett Byrne, Campagne , Kilkenny
Gary O'Hanlon, Viewmount House , Longford
Henry Stone, Sha-Roe, Carlow
Marco Roccasalvo, Campo de' Fiori , Bray
Oliver Dunne, Bon Appetit, Howth
Robbie Krawczyk, Harvest Room, Dunbrody, Wexford
WINNER Garrett Byrne, Campagne

Best Restaurant Connaught SHORTLIST
An Port Mor, Westport
Aniar, Galway
Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara
Coopershill House, Co Sligo
Inis Meain Restaurant, Aran Islands, Galway
Kai Café, Galway
La Fougere Restaurant, Knockranny, Westport
Renvyle House Hotel, Galway
The Oarsman, Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim
Upstairs @ West, The Twelve Hotel, Galway

Best Chef Connaught SHORTLIST
Campbell White, West @ The Twelve Hotel , Galway
Christina McCauley, Coopershill House , Co Sligo
Frankie Mallon, An Port Mor , Westport
Jessica Murphy, Kai Café, Galway  
Jonathan Keane, Wilde's Restaurant, Lisloughrey Lodge , Mayo
Martin O'Donnell, Pins @ The Twelve, Galway
Seamus Commons, La Fougere , Mayo
Tim O'Sullivan, Renvyle House Hotel Galway
Ultan Cooke, Aniar , Galway
Xin Sun, Ballynahinch Castle, Galway
WINNER Seamus Commons, La Fougere

Best Restaurant Dublin SHORTLIST
Ananda, Dundrum, D16
Chapter One, D1
Dax Restaurant, Pembroke St, D2
l'Ecrivain, D2
Nede, D2
Restaurant Forty One, Residence, D2
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, D2
The Greenhouse, D2
Thornton's, D2
Triple seven/777
WINNER Restaurant Forty One

Best Chef Dublin SHORTLIST
Conor Dempsey, Dax
Derry Clarke, l'Ecrivain
Dylan McGrath, Fade Street Social
Graham Neville, Restaurant Forty One
Guillaume Lebrun, Patrick Guilbaud
Kevin Thornton, Thornton's
Mickael Viljanen, The Greenhouse
Rory Carville (formerly Locks)
Ross Lewis, Chapter One
Sunil Ghai, Ananda
WINNER Graham Neville, Restaurant Forty One

Best Wine Experience National SHORTLIST
Cellar Bar & Restaurant, Merrion Hotel, Dublin
Chapter One, Dublin
Dax, Dublin
Ely Wine Bar, Dublin
Fallon & Byrne, Dublin
Greenacres, Wexford
Kellys, Wexford
La Fougere, Mayo
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin
West at The Twelve Hotel, Galway
WINNER Greenacres, Wexford

Best Sommelier SHORTLIST
Alain Kerloc'h, Ox
Colm McCann, Ballymaloe
Damian Corr, The Cellar, Dublin
Ed Jolliffe, Chapter One, Dublin
Lorraine Harmon, The Green House, Dublin
Martina Delaney, l'Ecrivain Restaurant, Dublin 
Naoise Doddy, The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin
Nicholas Faujours, La Fougere, Mayo
Olivier Meisonnave, DAX, Dublin
Pierre-Marie Faure, Rest Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin
Soizic Kiely, Les Gourmandises, Cork
WINNER Nicolas Faujours, La Fougere

Best Ethnic & World Cuisine SHORTLIST
777, Dublin 2
Ananda, Dundrum
Chakra by Jaipur, Greystones
China Sichuan, Sandyford
Jaipur, Dalkey
Kinara, Clontarf Road, D3
M&L Chinese Restaurant, Cathedral St, D1
Maks, Dublin 6
Saba, Clarendon St, D2
The Silk Road Café, Castle St, D2
WINNER Ananda, Dundrum

Best Service SHORTLIST
Aldridge Lodge, Wexford
Ananda, Dundrum
Chapter One, D1
Dax Restaurant, D2
l'Ecrivain, D2
MacNean House and Restaurant, Cavan
Rayanne House, Belfast
Renvyle House Hotel, Galway
Restaurant Forty-One, Residence, Dublin
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin
WINNER l'Ecrivain, D2

Best Casual Dining SHORTLIST
777, Dublin 2
A. Caviston, Greystones
Campo De' Fiori, Bray
Eastern Seaboard, Drogheda
Fade St. Social, D2
Ginger, Belfast
Hatch & Sons, D2
Las Tapas De Lola, Dublin 2
Maks, Dublin 6
Terre Madre, Dublin 1
WINNER 777, Dublin 2

Avant Garde - Fade Street Social

Readers' Choice - Campo di Fiori

Hall of Fame - Nick Price, Nick's Warehouse

Hall of Fame - Peter Caviston, Cavistons

All of the regional and national winners were announced at the awards ceremony at a gala luncheon on Sunday 25 August at The Four Seasons, Dublin 4. 


Tipperary pork farmers receive 1st ever Bordbia Q-Mark for Free Range Pork

A small independent pork farm based in Tipperary, has just received the first Bord Bia Quality Assured mark for Free-Range Pork & Bacon. This is the first time that Bordbia (the Irish Food Board) has issued a Quality Certification Mark to Free-Range Pork in Ireland. 

After two years of working towards getting "Free Range Pork" recognised as a speciality food product in Ireland, the paperwork has been completed and assessments finalised. A Certification for Bord Bia Quality Assurance Standard has now been granted and takes pride of place on the wall at Oldfarm. The farm at Redwood in North Tipperary, is run by Alfie & Margaret McCaffery and they specialise in raising free-range GMO-free (genetically modified organism) pigs.

In 2010 Alfie started questioning why was there no official certification (a Q-Mark) for free-range pork. "There are marks for free-range chicken but there wasn't anything for free-range pork. There are official marks for Organic pork, but nothing for Free-Range" he said.

The passionate pork farmer thought it would be a great accolade for Oldfarm Pork if they could get official certification and so, their quest began. He approached Bord Bia who suggested that a breeders’ association be formed and so the Irish Free Range Breeders Association was born with about 20 members. Alfie was nominated Chairperson of the association. 

For 2 years, Alfie travelled frequently from Tipperary to Dublin to sit on Bord Bia’s "Pig Meat Board". His hope had been that if they approved a ‘free-range’ label it would include ‘Non-GMO’ but, for the moment, this is not permissible. At the end of the 2 years, a framework was agreed as to what the definition of free-range should be:

  • Free-range farmed is "a type of animal husbandry where pigs have free access to fields/woodland with defined boundaries for all or most of their natural life". 
  • Animals receive their nutritional needs from prepared natural feed or from pasture or forage depending on the season.

The next step towards certification involved being audited and completing reams of paperwork for submission to Bord Bia. "Completion of the paperwork is not onerous but it does focus your attention on detail," said Margaret. "It make you realise why it is necessary to have standards that can be independently audited and maintained. Standards such as this give credence, traceability and confidence to the consumer."

In July 2013 all their hard work paid off when a certificate arrived in the post stating that Oldfarm pork had "...demonstrated compliance for product under the requirements of the Bord Bia Pigmeat Quality Assurance Standard".  

This being the first time a Q-Mark has been issued for Free Range Pork in Ireland, Alfie & Margaret are naturally delighted. "We believe our free range pork is different, very different from that supplied in supermarkets" says Alfie. "Once you have tasted our delicious pork, you will certainly come back for more".

I have spent a little time with Mags & Alfie in Redwood and I can confirm that their pork really is super delicious! You can find out more about Oldfarm's pigs and pork at


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