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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Total weekend foodie break package includes:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Apprentice Chef mentor Louise Brosnan

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

Apprentice Chef mentor Mark Doe

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

 George Hennessy, Apprentice Chef Winner 2016

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

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

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

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

Best of Success to all involved!

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