2010 EirGrid/Euro-toques Food Awards honour producers focused on the ‘forgotten foods’ of Ireland

18th Oct 2010

‘Toques off to Irish farmers’

EirGrid EURO-TOQUES FOOD AWARDS 2010

 

Ciaran Cuffe T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, announced the winners of the EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Awards, today Monday 18th October, at a press photocall in EirGrid, Dublin 4.

Euro-toques Ireland, the Irish branch of the European Community of Chefs and Cooks, presents annual Food Awards that honour food producers or individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to Irish food. The theme of the awards this year was to acknowledge those that are maintaining the production and supply of foods traditional to Ireland’s culinary heritage. These awards are unique in that the recipients are nominated and selected by the top chefs and cooks in the industry.

The five winners this year are:  Cuinneog Butter from Co. Mayo – producers of a country butter in line with Ireland’s long tradition in the art of butter making; Glenfin Free Range Duck Eggs, Tydavnet, Co. Monaghan – conscientious producers helping to bring duck eggs back to the Irish market; Brenda O’Riordan, Cork – married to a fisherman, Brenda collects the best of fish that is freshly caught from day boats and supplies it to local restaurants; O’Flynn Meats, Waterford – one of the oldest family butchers in the country, the Flynn family can stand by the quality of their beef, as they are responsible for every step of its journey from farm to table; Lissadell House and David Langford in Sligo – now home to the largest collection of potato varieties in Ireland, they are working to preserve and revive many traditional varieties of potatoes, including rare and heritage potatoes.

“An increasing number of small scale enterprises are providing a foundation for a diverse and strong food culture in Ireland. Food Harvest 2020 recognises the potential of the artisan and speciality food sector to provide sustainable local jobs” said Minister Cuffe “All five winners today have demonstrated excellence in their endeavours and are promoting distinctive local food traditions and food heritage, which will enhance Ireland’s food industry reputation both at home and abroad”.

Euro-toques chefs and cooks are committed to a philosophy of quality food sourcing, with an emphasis on seasonal, local and artisan ingredients, and protecting culinary heritage.  This year’s winners of the Food Awards demonstrated this passion and dedication to traditional, quality Irish food. Euro-toques are delighted to announce a new partnership with EirGrid for the Food Awards.

“The quality of nominations for the Food Awards this year was exceptional and we commend our five winners”,comments Feargal O’Donnell, Commissioner General of Euro-toques Ireland.  “Many foods traditional to Irish culinary heritage have been forgotten in a changing world where convenience is most important, and deviation from what is most readily available is rare.  The mindset of Irish consumers has altered and we are now increasingly seeking locally sourced, seasonal produce in restaurants and in retail, recognising that we need to get back to basics.  This year, the EirGrid Euro-toques Food Awards acknowledges the extraordinary contributions not just to Irish food, but also to Irish traditions and culture being maintained across the country.”

EirGrid has partnered with Euro-toques this year to sponsor the Food Awards.  As the operator of the national electricity transmission system, EirGrid engages with the farming community on a regular basis.  Indeed, it could not carry out its function without the co-operation of the farming community across whose lands much of the electricity transmission system is located.

Food Awards 2…/

EirGrid continues to work closely with individual farmers and representative organisations and there are many projects that are proceeding very successfully in cooperation with farmers and other landowners.

“There is an excellent symbiosis between the strategic objectives of EirGrid and the policies and objectives of Euro-toques,” comments Dermot Byrne, CEO EirGrid. “We work very closely with individual farmers across the country and recognise their invaluable contribution to the food industry in Ireland.  We share the same values as Euro-toques, fostering job creation and indigenous rural enterprise development and protecting traditional skills and production methods.  EirGrid acknowledge all the participants of this years Food Awards and commend Euro-toques for their on-going commitment to Ireland’s culinary heritage”.

The winners will be presented with their awards by various members of Euro-toques Ireland, including founder, Myrtle Allen, at a reception held in Kevin Arundel’s new gastropub, The Chop House on Shelbourne Road, Dublin 4.

Details of the five winners of the EirGrid Euro-toques Food Awards 2010:

1.       Glenfin Farm Free Range duck eggs – Duck eggs, once a common feature in the rural household, have been little available in recent years.  Brian Phelan and Margaret Delaney of Glenfin Farm are helping to bring duck eggs back to the Irish market.  Brian, having grown up helping his grandmother collect duck eggs from the garden, realized in 2008 that he was no longer able to find duck eggs in any of his local shops, and decided to make it his and Margaret’s business, quite literally, to return free range, Irish duck eggs to the market.  He even named the business after his grandmother’s Donegal Homestead – Glenfin.  Today, Brian and Margaret are working with various distributors nationwide selling into over 100 specialist and artisan food stores and butcher shops.  Glenfin farm is not only helping Ireland return to its culinary roots by making duck eggs more widespread again, but Brian Phelan and Margaret Delaney are conscientious producers who care about the welfare of their animals and the quality of their product, and as such, chefs and consumers can feel confident that they are purchasing the finest in nutritious and flavoursome food.  For a truly tasty food that is produced conscientiously, and for helping to preserve an Irish culinary tradition, Glenfin Farm Free Range duck eggs was selected for an EirGrid Euro-toques Food Award 2010.

2.       Brenda O’Riordan – the wife of an in-shore fisherman in East Cork started her own business, Love Fish in Ballycotton, in 2008, collecting the best of locally caught fish from day boats and delivering it to local restaurants.  Her service allows chefs to have a variety of fish on their menus, exposing chefs and consumers to the diversity of fish species that can be found in Irish waters. These days, chefs want fresh, properly handled, quality fish, which is caught in a sustainable and conscientious way, and that also has clear origins.  One of the only ways that all of these criteria can be met is by working directly with in-shore fishing boats who are fishing themselves and landing fresh on a daily basis.  In picking up the fresh fish brought in from the day boats and making the supply readily available to local restaurants, Brenda O’Riordan is making it possible for chefs to have access to quality, fresh fish, and making a significant contribution to the local food industry in East Cork, which is why she has been selected for an EirGrid Euro-toques 2010 Food Award.

3.       O’Flynn Meats – Located in Waterford, Bobby Flynn, along with his four sons, run one of the oldest family butchers in the country, as well as operating the last small abattoir located in Waterford.  Bobby Flynn is fourth generation in this business and with that comes an amazing family history of farmers and butchers.  In recent years, the Flynns have struggled to keep up with ever-changing EU guidelines and standards, constantly upgrading and expanding their farm and abattoir so as to ensure that the Flynn family business can continue into future generations. Now O’Flynn Meats is home to a completely state of the art abattoir and factory, complete with on site hanging fridges that allow the Flynns to hang their beef for 10-14 days.  Their cattle are primarily grass fed, slaughtered at the prime time and hung on site before being distributed.

Food Awards 3…/

The Flynns can stand by the quality of their beef because they see the beef through each step of the journey from farm to fork, which is becoming harder to do in the face of changing regulations. For continuing to oversee quality beef production from farm to fork, and for their sustained efforts to preserve their own family history of farming, slaughtering and butchering, which is tied to Ireland’s history of beef production, O’Flynn Meats has been awarded an EirGrid Euro-toques 2010 Food Award.

4.       Cuinneog Ltd for their Irish Farmhouse Country Butter – This company in Mayo is a family business, started by the Butler family on the family farm in 1990.  As Tom Butler says, “Sheila and I set up the business because we wanted to produce country butter in line with Ireland’s long tradition in the art of butter making.”  Cuinneog is the Irish word for ‘churn’ and when the Butlers began Cuinneog they used an old wooden churn.  Although these days the Butlers are using more modern stainless steel churns, the design and function of the churn remains unchanged, just like the butter.  This long tradition of butter making in Ireland, along with Cuinneog’s unique flavour, is really what makes them stand out from the crowd, as the art of Irish country butter making seems to be dwindling.  Irish country butter, once made routinely on most small-scale dairy farms, is now hard to come by and in producing such an extraordinary product, using traditional churning methods, the Butler family is helping to maintain and inspire a return to quality farmhouse butter production, which is why they are the recipients of an EirGrid Euro-toques 2010 Food Award.

 

5.       Lissadell House and David Langford Potato Collection – Lissadell House has a long and interesting history in terms of potato growing, which began for them in 1902.  When Edward Walsh and his wife Constance Cassidy bought Lissadell House in 2003, they wanted to restore the estate and gardens back to its horticultural roots, as first established by Sir Josslyn Gore Booth between 1890-1944.  In 2008, David Langford donated his own collection of heritage potatoes to Lissadell House so that the potatoes may be maintained, the collection could continue to grow, and so that the public could be given access to it.  Now, the Victorian walled garden on the grounds of Lissadell House and Gardens in Sligo is home to Ireland’s largest private collection of heritage rare and unusual potato varieties – over 180, many of which date back to pre-famine and the late 1800’s.  As the potato is such an important vegetable to Ireland’s history, the team at Lissadell House and Gardens along with David Langford are being commended for their work in preserving this culinary tradition so central to Irish history and culture, and as such have been selected for an EirGrid Euro-toques 2010 Food Award.

—ends—

For more information please contact:

Valda Boardman PR / 01 299 9090 / 086 233 0083 / valda@vbpr.ie

 

About Euro-toques:

Euro-toques, The European Community of Cooks, was established in 1986 in Brussels as a guardian of European culinary heritage, as a lobby group addressing the concerns of Europe’s top chefs and cooks about food quality and the future of food, and as a network of like-minded chefs. Euro-toques Ireland was founded by Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House the same year and now has almost 200 member cooks/chefs including Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain, Ross Lewis of Chapter One, Guillaume Le Brun of Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House, Paul Flynn of the Tannery and Neven Maguire of MacNean House.

About EirGrid:

EirGrid plc is a leading Irish energy business, dedicated to the provision of transmission and market services for the benefit of electricity consumers. It is a state-owned commercial company.

EirGrid is committed to delivering high quality services to all customers, including generators, suppliers and consumers across the high voltage electricity system and via the efficient operation of the wholesale power market. It puts in place the grid infrastructure needed to support competition in energy, to promote economic growth, to facilitate more renewable energy, and to provide essential services.

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