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Donegal Signature Dish event hosted by Donegal County Council a massive success!

Over 70 guests were treated to a wonderful display of Donegal food on Tuesday night when chefs from all around County Donegal came together in Harvey’s Point Hotel to cook a ten-course dinner that showcased the very best of Donegal food and produce. 

The Donegal Signature Dish event was hosted by Donegal County Council in association with Donegal Tourism.

Donegal Chefs who took part in the Donegal Signature Dish event in Harvey’s Point Hotel:
Standing L/R: Brian McDermott, Guest host and MC - Paul Brady, Castle Grove Country House Hotel - Marco Letterese, The Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant - Gary McPeake, McGrory’s Hotel - Christopher Molloy,The Lemon Tree Restaurant - Brian McMonagle, Arnolds Hotel - Ian Orr, Browns on the Green - Karl Murtagh Silver Tassie Hotel & Spa.
Sitting L/R: Kamal Rai, McGrory’s Hotel - Anthony Armstrong, Nesbitt Arms Hotel - Colin McKee, Harvey’s Point Hotel - Joe O’Hora, Benny & Co Coffee Bar & Restaurant - Chris McMenamin, Harvey’s Point
The mouth watering dishes were prepared by some of Donegal’s most talented chefs using local produce from local suppliers. Guests, including high profile food writers and bloggers, where blown away by the high standard at what was the first ever Donegal Signature Dish event.

Master of Ceremonies here at the Signature Dishes event was the very excellent and professional Mr

Chef Brian McDermot, well known for his promotion of Donegal food (and the owner of the Foyle Hotel in Moville), was the host for the evening and the chefs who cooked their dishes on the night and represented their establishments were:

Among the invited guests was Irish celebrity chef, television personality, author and owner of Dunbrody House Kitchens and Cookery School, Kevin Dundon - Assistant Editor with National Geographic Traveller Food, Farida Zeynalova - Chairperson of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, freelance journalist, author, restaurant critic and, food blogger Aoife Carrigy -  Fáilte Ireland Food Ambassador, Irish Food Guide Blogger and Donegal Chef, Zack Gallagher (me!) - Michelin trained chef, founder of ChanChan and ambassador with Bord Bia Shanghai, Kwanghi Chan - representative of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, Sean Redmond and representing Fáilte Ireland, Máire Áine Gardiner among others. Representatives of the Donegal Food & Hospitality sector were also invited.

Greencastle smoked haddock and Leek Chowder from from

Autumn Beetroot Salad by from

King Scallops with Gin, Basil & Cream by Chef Anthony Armstrong from

It was lovely to meet up with Farida Zeynalova, National Geographic Traveller and Aoife Carrigy, Irish Food Writers' Guild

Held in the new Garden Suite at Harvey's Point, the event started with a canapés and drinks reception during which guests had a chance to sample a selection of locally produced drinks including craft beers, gin and whiskey compliments of Bog Hopper Brewery from Muff, Donegal Brewing Company from Ballyshannon, Kinnegar Brewing from Letterkenny, Old Mill Brewing Company from Convoy and Sliabh Liag Distillery from Carrick.

The service by the waiting team was simply precision in motion!

Donegal Beef Cheeks with pickled Oyster, Seaweed Crisp, Smoked Celeriac, Oyster emulsion and Leaves by Chefs and from

Garden Tomato & Basil Pressed Terrine with courgette relish, mascarpone by from

The full service dinner consisted of 10 different dishes from around the county cooked on the night, which was a real feast for the palette, as well as the eyes! Each tasting dish had to fulfill two criteria, they had to consist of Donegal produce and be available on each establishment’s menu either currently or on a seasonal basis. The dishes were chosen by the organising committee in a selection process earlier this year.

Donegal Seafood Sharing Platter by from

Turf Smoked Donegal Lamb, Boxtie Potato, Toasted Oatmeal, jus from from

Rib Eye Steak, Crab Claws, Prawns, Garlic from from

Cllr Seamus O’Domhnaill, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, who hosted the event, said, "We have outstanding, creative chefs in Donegal who utilise the delicious, locally grown foods produced by farmers and marine producers to prepare new dishes of cuisine that highlight our heritage and culture. We must tell a renewed story about Donegal food and drink experience, focusing on quality, authenticity, innovation and value for money and this is why we are here this evening".

Donegal Gin infused Carrageen Moss Pudding by from The Silver Tassie

Bitter Chocolate Torte with Autumn Poached Blackberries and Honeycomb
by Brenda and from Benny & Co

Barney Mc Laughlin from Donegal Tourism thanked "the committee, the chefs who submitted their dishes, the guest host Chef Brian McDermott, table hosts, suppliers, Harvey’s Point staff and management and all the guests for their attendance and paid a special tribute to the chefs who took on a challenging task of cooking and serving their dishes," making it a very memorable evening for all attending.

The Donegal Signature Dish event was brought together to showcase Donegal Food and to encourage chefs around the county to be more proactive in the use of locally sourced food produce. 

It certainly has worked as already more chefs around county Donegal are already planning more Donegal Signature Dish events in more locations around the county! We all really look forward to much more super delicious Donegal Food!


Donegal Signature Dish Gala Dinner to Celebrate the Best of Donegal Food!

All that is good about Donegal Food will be showcased at a special event in Harvey’s Point this Tuesday when some of Donegal most talented chefs, food suppliers and trade representatives will be joined by over 100 guest national and international food writers, journalists, food and travel bloggers and social media influencers, at the first ever Donegal Signature Dish event!

The event which is being hosted by Donegal County Council in association with Donegal Tourism is not a competition but is about celebrating Donegal food and fresh local produce. This is a fabulous initiative and an opportunity to promote Donegal food, our chefs, restaurants, suppliers and artisan producers and the people who champion Donegal, our food and our tourism industry.

Restaurants all across the county were (earlier this year) invited to submit their own signature dishes, which then underwent a selection to form the ten course tasting menu for this gala event. Their submitted dish had to consist of Donegal sourced ingredients and also has to feature on their current or seasonal menu.

Chef Brian McDermot, well known for his promotion of Donegal food (and the owner of the Foyle Hotel in Moville), will be our host for the evening and the chefs who will be cooking their dishes on the night and representing their establishments include:

This final tasting menu is a balanced selection of ten superb dishes from all around County Donegal. These ten courses will be served on the night and each chef will also have an opportunity to share, to the guests, the story behind their particular dish.

Barney Mc Laughlin, Head of the Tourism Unit at Donegal County Council, said, “We are delighted that the chefs in the county have risen to the challenge to participate in this exciting event. This is not a competition but an opportunity to showcase the best that the county has to offer!"

"It’s about working together to promote quality food in Donegal and send a message out to our local people, guests and visitors that Donegal does food well. We are delighted to be joined on the night by food writers, bloggers, well-known chefs and local representatives from the food sector who are among the invited guests”, Barney added.

I'm really looking forward to the evening and we will all be LIVE on Twitter and Facebook on Tuesday 11th September 2018, from the event at Harvey's Point Hotel, on hashtag #DonegalFood and do check out the Donegal Tourism Twitter account @GoVisitDonegal.

So keep an eye out for some great Donegal people serving amazing Donegal Food as a taste of what to expect when you next visit Donegal!


Hooked Seafood Festival takes place in Killybegs on Saturday 1st September

Hooked Seafood Festival takes place at LYIT, Killybegs, on Saturday 1st September and this year it's going to be bigger and better than ever!

This super Seafood Festival was started several years ago by the Killybegs Community Council to promote the use of fish and seafood and to encourage people to use more of our bountiful and delicious seafood at home for your dinner!

Fish Filleting masterclasses from BIM, based in Killybegs

The festival has been growing every year and is now one of the premium seafood festivals on the west coast of Ireland! Over the day there will be fish and seafood cooking demos, fish filleting masterclasses, a Seafood Chowder competition, sea-faring exhibitions, net making, knot making, and a fun-filled I’m a SeaLebrity Seafood Bush Tucker Trial!

The public taste and vote for the best chowder in the County Donegal Chowder Cook Off

The County Donegal Chowder Cook-Off will see the best of Donegal chefs come together to compete for the title of 2018 Donegal Chowder Champion. Visitors to this event are guaranteed a feast for the senses as they sample the range of chowders and cast their vote for the best.

Chef Brendan Bengi Conmy, from The Waterfront Hotel, who won last year's Chowder Cook Off

The winner of the Chowder Cook-Off will go on to represent County Donegal at the All Ireland Cook-Off in Kinsale in 2019. Kieran Duey Doherty from Nancy's Barn, who won two years ago and went on tho win the World Chowder Championship will be doing seafood Cooking Demonstrations.

Listen to storytellers weave tall tales about the sea and the maritime history of Killybegs. Get a look behind the scenes of the local coast guards, learn about what they do and see there boat and gear close up. Learn how they make the real fishing nets that have been used for generations by local fishermen and how to tie proper sea faring knots!

Hooked Seafood Festival is a real showcase what the premier fishing port of Killybegs has to offer and to celebrate it’s seafood, traditional seafaring and maritime heritage. Ocean FM will be broadcasting from the festival all day and I'll be helping to host the event and will surely be running around making sure everyone has a great time during the day!

Hooked Seafood Festival takes place at the LYIT Killybegs Catering College Campus this Saturday, with the gates opening at 11am. The festival runs all day long  until 5pm, so there will be loads to do for all the family!

Use the hashtag #Hooked if you're posting pics on your social media and See you there in Killybegs!


WIN a Weekend Pass for Two People to A Taste Of Donegal Food Festival, Friday 24th to Sunday 26th August

Competition Now Closed.

10 years ago a small committee came together to host a food festival in Donegal Town. From it's humble beginnings in 2008, A Taste Of Donegal Food Festival, has evolved into one of the leading and most respected food festivals in the country.

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year, the food festival, being held on Friday 24th to Sunday 26th August, is gearing up to be the most wonderful and exciting food festival in the Irish foodie calendar with record numbers of visitors anticipated.

Chairperson Ernan Mc Gettigan, is really looking forward to this year's event, "We now attract Food Lovers from all over the world to our beautiful tented village on the Pier in Donegal Town with the backdrop of the Blue Stack Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean," he said. "Every year we raise the bar and are going from strength to strength. 2018 will be no different. These successes have been brought on by our voluntary committee sitting down after each year's event and evaluating what worked well and what areas need to be improved."

This amazing pic of A Taste Of Donegal Food Festival was taken by EIREIAL Creations
This year’s Taste Of Donegal Food Festival once again gathers together Top local Restaurants, Hotels, Food and Drink Providers with guest producers from all over Ireland, with almost 130 renowned exhibitors being showcased this year!

The weekend is a great excuse to meander, browse, meet the producers, smell, taste and purchase some of the finest food and drink available from all over the country. Visitors can also sample products which are new and unfamiliar to them as food producers love testing new products at events such as thid. The feedback is invaluable. 

Alongside all the Celebrity Chefs like Neven Maguire, Kevin Dundon, Gary O’Hanlon, Stephen Mc Allister, Edward Hayden, Catherine Fulvio, Martin Shanahan, Brian McDermott and more, A Taste of Donegal Food Festival always gives young local Donegal chefs the opportunity to get on the stage and show what they can do too!

The festival also provides a full entertainment programme throughout the weekend, with Fireworks over Donegal Bay, Live music, Interactive Street Theatre, Family Fun and Mime events. The cooking demos are always great fun and each year more and more celebrity and local chefs are lining up to take to the stage at A Taste Of Donegal.

Some of the Taste Of Donegal Food Festival Committee having the craic with some of the Chefs!

Organiser, Mary McGettigan, is passionate about making sure that the food producers at the event have a productive weekend and that the visitors who attend see it as the best quality event they can make. "There are a lot of food festivals but what makes us unique is that we focus on building a quality event which is true to food and drink giving many producers the opportunity to promote and showcase their food," said Mary. Our Committee feel that Food Festivals like A Taste of Donegal play a very important role in driving Food Tourism in Ireland by creating a perfect atmosphere and an amazing experience for all involved."

The local Failte Ireland tourist office told us that they recieve growing numbers of enquiries each year by tourism visitors who are looking to book their vacations around events such as A Taste Of Donegal and this all helps to incease the reputation of Irish Food on the world tourism stage.

The theme of this year’s festival is its 10th birthday celebration and with 25,000 people visiting the Pier Town last year, Mr Mc Gettigan credits the local community for the success of the Festival. “This is an entirely voluntary community Festival which is brilliant and not every town or village has this, so we’re very lucky,” he said. “The whole community of Donegal Town and County really get behind and support us from our hardworking and dedicated volunteers to community groups, sponsors, businesses and our local media.

Personally (being a native of Donegal Town myself) I really love the weekend of A Taste Of Donegal and I help with the social media for the festival over the weekend. You can "graze" your way around the massive food producer's area, taste the most delicious food and try out the newest offering from a growing multitude of local craft beer breweries. Meeting up with friends, family, visitors to the area and chef collegues from all over Ireland and talking foodie things is one of the best ways to spend the weekend.

My own cooking demo is on Saturday Morning at 11am so pop down to that if you get the chance. The wonderful Mr Keith Mahon, MD of will be hosting this year's official opening of A Taste of Donegal on the Friday evening and there will be quite a few special guests popping up that evening!

The motto of A Taste Of Donegal has always been “Discover, Dine and Delight in Donegal Town” and this year, as the food festival celebrates it's 10th Anniversary, this motto rings even more true! Admission to the festival is just €7.00 for adults and €1.00 for children per day. A three-day weekend pass is available for only €18!

For more information on A Taste Of Donegal,  Follow A Taste Of Donegal on Facebook Here, on Twitter Here and visit the Website at


A Taste of Donegal Committee have kindly given us A Weekend Pass for Two People to WIN here on the Irish Food Guide and to Enter all you have to do is LIKE the Donegal Food Festival's Facebook Page below and leave a comment on their page saying "I Love Donegal Food"

Click on the Facebook Like Button here:

Closing date for this competition is Thursday 23rd August at 8pm and the winner will be contacted with details of how to collect the Weekend Pass.

And the WINNER is PJ Dunleavy, via Facebook. We'll be in touch to send you the Passes!

See you all in Donegal!

Ireland's Biggest Street Food Festival takes place in Letterkenny on 28th & 29th July 2018

The Letterkenny Artisan Market and The Lemon Tree Restaurant Letterkenny are presenting their latest two-day Street Food Festival, in the heart of Letterkenny this weekend! The 2018 "Off The Street" Food Festival takes place in a new even bigger location this year, behind The Orchard Inn in Letterkenny, this Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of July.

The organisers Derek Walker and Chris Molloy say the festival is back with an even bigger and better programme of fun events on the 28th & 29th July in a brand new location behind The Orchard Inn, on the High Road, Letterkenny.

Street Food, can be described as "restaurant quality food, prepared and cooked right in front of you and presented with imagination and flair". Letterkenny Street Food Festival is a vibrant and exciting event where you can to meet up with friends to enjoy some excellent food in a casual, fun way. You can move from stall to stall, chatting with the chefs and watching your food being cooked in front of you!

There are dozens of exciting activities scheduled from chef demonstrations to producer stories, a new wellness corner, over 30 Donegal street food vendors and a selection of local music.

Kenny Maguire of Ken Maguire Demos is providing the ultimate audience experience for the festivals with his state of the art Kitchen Demo Stage complete with large screen TV & Sound system. Donegal chef Zack Gallagher from the Irish Food Guide along with Highland Radio DJ Jimmy Stafford will be keeping things moving in the demo marquee.

Cooking Demonstrations will also be taking place over the whole weekend and the organisers have brought together some of the top chefs from Donegal. Some are working locally and some have moved away to open their own businesses around the country.

Executive Chef for Airbnb, Maurice Mc Geehan 

Chefs on stage over the weekend include Maurice Mc Geehan, Executive Chef for Airbnb EMEA headquarters in Dublin - Brian Mc Monagle, currently heads the kitchen at Arnold's Hotel, Dunfanaghey and Pauline Sugrue, local food enthusiast, full-time chef and part-time blogger.

Also appearing are John and Shane McConnell, award winning butchers in Ballybofey - Joe & Brenda O'Hora, owners of Benny & Ballybofey - Gary Mc Peake, Head Chef of McGrory's in Culdaff - Martin Anderson, local celebrity chef and owner of Sonder Cafe in Letterkenny - Chris Mc Menamin, Head Chef at Harvey's Point - Colin McKee, Chef at The Restaurant, Harveys Point and Mary Mc Laughlin, Pallas Foods Pastry Chef.

Chef Brian McDermott will be cooking up more delicious Donegal food

This year the organiser are also delighted to welcome back to Donegal, chef Kwanghi Chan, Chef, Food Producer & Owner of Chan Chan Sauce Co. - Paul Brady, Head Chef of the award winning Castlegrove Country House and special guest Chef Brian McDermott, champion of all things Donegal and chef-proprietor of the newly-restored Foyle Hotel in Moville.

There are a huge variety of food stalls selling amazing freshly cooked street, local produce & much more. The two day festival also includes performances of live music by local musicians and you will also get to hear the stories behind some of Donegal’s best local food producers.

The Off the Street Food Festival is an excellent celebration of the vibrant Donegal Food scene, with something for the whole family and a weekend not to be missed!

The 2018 "Off The Street" Food Festival takes place in a new location thus year, behind The Orchard Inn Letterkenny, this Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of July. See their website Check out their Facebook Here and Follow them on Twitter @LKfoodFest

It's going to be a great weekend! See you There!

Irish Seafood to Top the Bill at Seafood Rocks 2018 this weekend in Clogherhead, Co. Louth

SEAFOOD ROCKS 2018 is an amazing family festival, being held this weekend (13th, 14th & 15th July) in Clogherhead, Co. Louth, to celebrate a love for the Sea, for Food & for Irish Culture!

Organised Red Fish Events, a company founded by David Bradley and Damien Kierans, the Seafood Rocks 2018 festival is offering a bountiful weekend full of movies, music, kids and family entertainment, competitions, adventure zones, street performers, street art, magicians, drama, dancing and an unrivalled selection of delicious seafood offerings.

One of the aims of the festival is to help promote Clogherhead and the surrounding areas by providing a platform for local produce and talent to be celebrated and this is reflected in everything from the food, the bands, the food producers and all the other entertainment over the weekend.

Family Entertainment will consist of Artisan Seafood Food Market, Workshops, an Open Air Movie, Comedy, Loads of Live Music provided by local musicians, a fully licensed Bar serving Irish Craft Beers and much more! The organisers are especially proud of the huge line-up of local bands from the region who are playing on the various stages over the weekend.

The heartbeat of Clogherhead is it’s fishing industry and this sets a unique seafood theme for the festival. The Clogherhead Fishermen's Co-Op have rallied in behind the festival team with their full support and are providing the base ingredients for all the cooking demonstrations over the weekend!

The Co-op has a core offering of their famous Clogherhead Prawns and also there will also be whitefish dishes including monkfish, cod and hake. Talks, workshops and discussions about sustainable fishing and seafood will be hosted throughout the weekend with some excellent guest contributors.

Kenny Maguire, of Kenny Maguire Demos and Zack Gallagher, of The Irish Food Guide, have been brought on board to help with organising The Clogherhead Fisherman's Co-Op Food Theatre over the weekend and have helped bring together a fabulous line-up of Chefs, Nutritionists, Foodies and Friends who will demonstrate how to best cook up delicious seafood dishes. They include chef Tara Walker (East Coast Cookery School), Jenny Maltese & Tom Coleman (My Nutrition Ireland), Zack Gallagher (The Irish Food Guide), Killian O'Donohue (Boyne Valley Hotel), Graham Clarke (Fifty4 Seafood Bar) along with other local guest chefs!

Tara Walker, Tom Coleman and Jenny Maltese are among the guest Chefs at Seafood Rocks 2018
The Food Theatre is also hosting local and national food producers exhibiting a wide variety of Cheese, Condiments, Jams, Chutneys, Chocolates, Salad Dressings, Artisan Roasted Coffee, Oils, Salts, Cream Liqueurs, Craft Makers and many more!

To help highlight the growing problem of plastics in the sea, Seafood Rocks 2018 is reducing the amount of plastics and non-biodegradable waste on-site. there are composting bins for all food waste, and the piece de resistance is be a giant octopus over 7m high, made entirely from reclaimed plastics and marine waste.

The Giant Octopus at Seafood Rocks 2018 was made from recycled fishing equipment
and plastic reclaimed from the sea by local groups and schools. 

Seafood Rocks 2018, this weekend (13th, 14th & 15th July) in Clogherhead, Co. Louth, is gearing up to be a festival definitely not to be missed! Tickets for Seafood Rocks 2018 can be found here.

For even more info check out their website You can follow Seafood Rocks Festival on your favourite social media: FacebookTwitter and on Instagram and keep an eye on the hashtag #SFR2018

I'm looking forward to the weekend at Seafood Rocks 2018 and I hope to see you there too!

Irish Beef from Dunnes Stores Simply Better range Wins Gold at World Steak Challenge 2018

Ireland was once again recognised as a producer of world class beef at the World Steak Challenge which saw 22 countries participating in these renowned awards. Dunnes Stores Simply Better Irish Angus Steaks took home three major awards at the event in London on the 5th July.

The Gold Winner Simply Better 28 Day Matured Irish Angus Rib Eye Steak

The Simply Better 28 Day Matured Irish Angus Rib Eye Steak picked up the prestigious Gold and Silver awards, with the Simply Better 14 Day Matured Irish Angus Fillet Steak honoured with a Bronze award. This is the fourth consecutive year for Simply Better Steaks to be recognised at the World Steak Challenge.

The World Steak Challenge judging panel was made up of international industry experts including top butchers, food journalists and meat scientists. Each steak was given a score based on its appearance, aroma, colour, marbling and consistency of fat trim, with the Gold winners progressing to the next stage where the meat was judged after being cooked to an exact temperature and specification by expert chefs.

Chef Neven maguire is an Ambassador for the Dunnes Stores Simply Better brand

The Simply Better Collection is one of the most successful food brands in Ireland with over 320 national and international awards since it was established in 2013, which is the most awards for any Irish food brand. Last night’s success brings the number of awards for the Simply Better Irish Angus Beef range to over 15, with previous awards received at The Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards, the Irish Quality Food Awards, Blas na hEireann and PLMA’s Salute to Excellence Awards.

Diarmuid Murphy, Simply Better Brand Manager, said, “We are absolutely thrilled that our Simply Better Irish Angus Steaks have been named some of the world’s best steaks. We are proud to source our Irish Angus Beef from Jennings in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, and it comes only from Bord Bia Approved Quality Assured Irish Farms. Our dedicated team of butchers in Tendermeats carefully select and mature our beef to ensure it always delivers on flavour, and this recognition from the World Steak Challenge is a testimony to our commitment to sourcing only the best Irish Angus Beef for our customers.”

The Simply Better 14 Day Matured Irish Angus Fillet Steak

All of the Award Winning Products which are part of the Simply Better Collection are available in selected Dunnes Stores nationwide.  For more information on the Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection visit or on social media - @simplybetterds.

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The Irish Food Guide Blog 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