Tradition meets innovation at the 2013 EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Awards

KNOWLEDGE OF SALMON….AND OATS, APPLES AND DUCK

2013 EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Award winners pictured on Dublin's O'Connell st

Tradition meets innovation at 2013 EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Awards

At today’s Euro-Toques Food Awards, sponsored by EirGrid, Ireland’s top chefs honoured farmers, fishermen and producers who have ensured the survival of some of our most traditional food produce through enterprise and innovation. All five awards, presented at a reception hosted by Ella McSweeney in Residence Club on St. Stephen’s Green this afternoon, went to businesses involving foods with a long history in Ireland’s food and farming heritage.

The 5 award recipients were:

  • Mick Murphy, a traditional Snap-net salmon fisherman on the River Nore, Co. Kilkenny, and his wife Trisha, who has registered as a fish buyer in order to buy wild salmon from Mick and the other snap-net fishermen for supply to smokehouses and restaurants
  • Pat Lalor of Kilbeggan Organic Oats, Co. Westmeath who converted his family farm to organics in 1999 and began selling his oats direct under his own farm brand in 2011.
  • David Llewellyn of Llewllyn Orchard, Lusk, Co. Dublin an apple grower who, over the course of 10 years has innovated and added value to his apples producing a range of excellent products including juices, cider, cider & apple balsamic vinegar, and apple syrup.
  • Mary Regan of Regan’s Organic Farm, who was commended for her organic Ducks, raised on her mixed 45 acre farm near Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.

and

  • William O’Callaghan, producer of Longueville House Cider, near Mallow, Co. Cork – 3 years ago William launched this cider, produced exclusively with the apples from the 23 acres of orchards on the Longueville estate, onto the market.

(See biogs below)

“It is important to look to traditional farm products and food production in Ireland to understand what is most suited to our land and climate”, said Ruth Hegarty, Secretary-General of Euro-Toques Ireland at today’s awards,

“But in order for these traditions to survive we must have innovation. All of today’s winners have been innovative in the way they have added value to their product and brought it to market, getting it as close to the final consumer as possible. This is what will ensure the survival of quality traditional farming”.

 Salmon is so much part of our folk history and even national identity and a resource which has been much under threat in recent years due to over-fishing and pollution. But measures taken by Inland Fisheries in recent years have seen stock numbers quickly recover on the River Nore and allowed a return to the ancient tradition of snap-net salmon fishing there. Strong policy decisions, good management and the cooperation of the snap-net fishermen have resulted in a good news story for the future sustainability of wild salmon stocks on Irish rivers. The determination of these fishermen has ensured the survival of their ancient fishing method against the odds and the enterprising spirit of Mick & Trisha Murphy has resulted in new markets for the prized wild salmon, which is available for just 12 weeks each year from mid-May to mid-August.

Oats were one of our earliest and most traditional crops. Pat Lalor, through his stewardship of the soil and organic farming methods is producing creamy flavoursome porridge oats, which many say ‘tastes like porridge used to’. By branding and directly marketing his oats, he has increased the profitability and sustainability of his farm and given the consumer an entirely traceable quality Irish farm product. Apples are native to this land and orchards have long formed part of the traditional garden. But apple cultivation has been threatened by cheap imports, high costs and unpredictable weather. The innovations of growers like David Llewellyn and William O’Callaghan, along with other like-minded apple producers, in developing added value products and marketing direct has allowed the survival of this traditional industry. Small-scale poultry rearing has always been a vital income stream for farmer’s wives, providing pin money for everyday essentials. Now producers like Mary Regan are making viable businesses from rearing poultry in the traditional way and bringing it direct to market.

The Euro-Toques Food Awards are unique in that producers cannot enter or lobby for awards, they must be nominated by Euro-Toques member chefs. The Euro-Toques Food Council considers the list of nominations, taking into account taste, production methods, provenance and many other factors in order to select just 5 recipients who stand out in that year.

 “Today’s award winners are all very different but all share a passion and belief in what they do. Meeting people like them is what gives us the greatest buzz as chefs”, said Euro-Toques President Chef Wade Murphy of the newly opened 1826 Adare restaurant in Adare, Co. Limerick, speaking at this afternoon’s reception in Residence.

“They have all looked to foods and crops which are indigenous and very much part of our food heritage and are producing them in a non-intensive, traditional way. They have made their business viable by marketing direct and chefs are a key part of this”.

 

This is the fourth year that EirGrid, operator of the national electricity transmission system, has sponsored the Euro-Toques Food awards. Fintan Slye, CEO EirGrid, said: “EirGrid engages with the farming community across Ireland on a regular basis. I congratulate all the winner of this year’s awards and commend Euro-toques for its on-going commitment to enhancing Ireland’s culinary heritage”.

Award recipients took part in a photo call on O’Connell Street this morning, where Mick Murphy and his fishing colleagues displayed a traditional River Nore fishing ‘cot’ (wooden canoe) and their snap nets. They received their awards from the Euro-toques chefs in the ceremony hosted by Ella McSweeney in Residence Club in St. Stephen’s Green this afternoon. Canapés featuring the winning food products were created for the event by Residence chefs and Euro-toques members Graham Neville & Peter Everett.

 ENDS

(FURTHER DETAILS ON AWARD RECIPIENTS BELOW)

For more information please contact Ruth Hegarty on 085 8520760 or ruth@euro-toques.ie

Follow the event on Twitter: @eurotoquesirl #ETFoodAwards

 About Euro-Toques:

Euro-toques – the European Community of Chefs – was established in Brussels in 1986 by the top chefs in the region. Their purpose was to form a network of chefs committed to quality local food sourcing and to be a voice for the industry to protect Europe’s traditional foods and culinary heritage.

Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House was one of the founding members and went on to found Euro-toques Ireland the same year. Euro-toques Ireland lobbies on a variety of food policy issues and is heavily involved in education, focussing on food education for children and skills training for chefs, in addition to organising food-related events and activities for both industry and the public.

www.euro-toques.ie

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.

 About the EirGrid Euro-toques Food Awards:

The Euro-toques Food Awards have been in existence since 1996. Their purpose is for Euro-toques chefs to identify the very best food being produced in Ireland for the benefit of fellow chefs and consumers, and above all the producers themselves, who are often very small operators. In doing this they seek to highlight foods and production methods that may be in danger of being lost and to promote people who were producing food of the very highest quality and, above all, the best taste. Producers are nominated by Euro-Toques member chefs who use their produce on their menu. The Euro-toques Food Council made up of 10 chefs from across Ireland carry out tastings, investigations and visits before choosing 5 winners each year.

The awards have been sponsored by EirGrid since 2010.

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