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Winners of the 2016 Euro-Toques Food Awards announced

The annual EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Awards took place today Monday 13th June. This year the awards were held at Ballymaloe House as part of the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of Euro-Toques Ireland, to honour its founder Myrtle Allen.

Euro-Toques members include some of Ireland’s greatest chefs, many of whom came together today to honour Mrs Allen on the 30th anniversary of this celebrated organisation. Mrs Allen also founded the Euro-Toques EirGrid Food Awards over 12 years ago to recognise and promote Ireland’s unique food producers.

The winners are nominated and selected by the members of Euro-Toques and inspected by members of the Euro-Toques Food Council. The awards are completely independent and entirely the selection of the chefs of Euro-Toques.

Euro-Toques Ireland is part of Euro-Toques International which was also founded in 1986, by Gualtiero Marchesi from Italy, Juan-Mari Arzak from Spain, Paul Bocuse from France, Cas Spijker from the Netherlands and Myrtle Allen from Ireland. Euro-Toques is a community of cooks and chefs who uphold a charter to protect and promote authentic artisan and high quality produce and high culinary standards in their kitchens. There are 16 European countries in Euro-Toques International, with a membership of over 3,000 dedicated chefs.

Euro-Toques Ireland was founded by Myrtle Allen in 1986

The awards ceremony took place in the Grainstore at Ballymaloe at 2pm today, compered by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School. Canapés using the award winners' produce were prepared by Irish Michelin-starred chef and Euro-Toques member Enda McEvoy, of Loam in Galway.

Tonight, several award-winning Euro-Toques chefs have come together to create a celebration dinner at Ballymaloe House for Mrs Allen, including current Commissioner General Graham Neville (Residence and Restaurant Forty One), former Commissioner General Feargal O'Donnell (The Fatted Calf), and EuroToques chefs Kevin Aherne (Sage in Midelton), Rory O'Connell (Ballymaloe House) and Bryan McCarthy (Greene’s in Cork).

The Grainstore at Ballymaloe
This year’s the awards focused on the important, yet challenged, categories of raw milk cheese and free range pork, both of which have been shrinking year on year in the face of regulatory and economic barriers. 

Speaking at the awards Darina Allen said: “Perhaps no artisan product expresses the place and people that produce it as much as raw milk cheese. Each one is unique and almost certainly a labour of love by the cheesemaker, especially as they are increasingly facing challenges in today’s heavily regulated industry."
 She added, “Free range pork production is becoming more rare in Ireland. It is a challenging occupation that takes patience, skill and sensitivity to the needs of the animals in order to produce a good product. All of our winners are fine examples of how it’s done in the case of both these categories.”

Speaking about the awards, Euro-Toques Ireland Commissioner General Graham Neville said: 
“The artisan sector in Ireland has grown so much in the last 10 years, there’s almost nothing Irish artisans can’t produce at this stage. We are proud to be able to recognise their achievements and promote their huge value to our industry.”
Euro-Toques Ireland Commissioner General Graham Neville
A study by the New Economics Foundation in London found that every €14 spent at a local food business is worth €35 for the local area, compared with just €20 when the same amount is spent in a supermarket or wholesaler.

This year’s Euro-Toques Ireland Food Awards 2016 Winners are:

  • Joint award for free range pork- Fergus & Sandra Dunne, Pigs on the Green, Offaly
    and Dave & Diana Milestone, Andarl Farm, Co Mayo
  • For excellence and innovation in dairy- Aisling and Michael Flanagan, Velvet Cloud Irish Sheep's Milk Cheese, Co Mayo
  • For raw milk and raw milk cheese- James Gannon, Cloonconra Cheese, Co Roscommon (his own herd of Irish moiled cattle)
  • For excellence in aquaculture- Hugh O'Malley, Achill Oysters, Co Mayo
  • For excellence in baking and collaboration to educate- The Founders of Real Bread Ireland
  • Special Commendation for their support of Irish artisan producers- Ardkeen Quality Food Stores, Waterford

Asked about their success, Keith Bohanna, co-founder of Real Bread Ireland said: “There are only a handful of food awards that are really meaningful and the annual Euro-Toques awards, selected by a group of top chefs, are in that category. If this award encourages more bakers and chefs to start their journey into the world of real bread and sourdough then thank you."

There are currently over 3,500 small to medium sized food businesses operating in Ireland. Euro-Toques chefs work directly with the small producers and credit this produce that comes through their kitchen doors every day with the success of their award-winning restaurants.

Supporting small local food businesses benefits the local economy and Euro-Toques has been instrumental in encouraging restaurants, hotels and the general public to buy local food, from local producers. This has generated a re-discovery of pride in our Irish food and the growth of artisan produce all over Ireland.

Congratulations to all the award winners and Happy 30th Birthday Euro-Toques Ireland!


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