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.

Wade Murphy of Doonbeg Lodge, Co. Clare is new head of Euro-Toques Ireland

Executive Chef Wade Murphy, pictured outside the Lodge at Doonbeg
Executive Chef Wade Murphy, pictured outside the Lodge at Doonbeg

Wade Murphy of The Lodge at Doonbeg, Co. Clare

appointed

Commissioner-General of Euro-toques Ireland

At our AGM in Brooklodge Hotel, Co. Wicklow earlier this week, chef’s group Euro-toques Ireland, elected Wade Murphy, Executive Chef of The Lodge at Doonbeg, Co. Clare as our new Commissioner-General (President).

The Commissioner-General is the elected representative, spokesperson and leader of the180 strong chef member organisation. Euro-Toques – the European Community of Chefs & Cooks, was established in Brussels in 1986 and seeks to promote small food producers and local sourcing, while protecting culinary heritage and food quality, and providing a network for chefs.

Wade Murphy – Profile

• Wade Murphy has been has been a member of Eurotoques since returning to work in Ireland from abroad in 2007. He has been a member of the Euro-Toques Board of Commissioners for 4 years.

• Having graduated from Cathal Brugha St., he moved to London, spending seven years working in a series of hotels and restaurants around London taking in establishments that range from 2AA Rosette to 2-star Michelin standards. In 2001 he returned home to join the team at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin. During his time there he also helped out with the opening of other Four Seasons Hotels in Egypt and London, moving on to the Four Seasons in Chicago in 2005.

• In 2007 he returned to Ireland to take up the position of Executive Chef at Lisloughrey Lodge in Cong, Co. Mayo, moving to The Lodge at Doonbeg, Co, Clare in 2010

• Originally from Gorey, Co. Wexford, Wade lives in Ennis with his wife Elaine.

During his 2 year tenure Murphy intends to work on strengthening links between Euro-Toques chefs and their local producers, and encouraging chefs to work together in their local area. He is strongly committed to Euro-Toques’ educational activities and believes that the passing of skills and knowledge to the next generation is central to Euro-Toques objectives.

Since 2007 Euro-Toques has run a Chef Development Programme in conjunction with partners La Rousse Foods, in which Murphy has been actively involved. In 2012 Euro-Toques Ireland signed a formal agreement with 9 Institutes of Technology around Ireland, which allows the organisation to influence and contribute to the formal education of chefs. Continuing Euro-Toques’ involvement with the education sector will be a priority over the next 2 years.

“My aim first and foremost is to represent the members, to maintain the standards of Euro-Toques and to continue building its reputation”.

Wade Murphy told members gathered in Brooklodge Hotel on Monday,

“I believe we can do this by going back to the roots of what we are about, being a community for chefs and having direct links with our food producers”.

“I hugely value our education activities and believe we have made great strides in this area. Ireland has immense culinary potential. Euro-Toques chefs are a major part of this story. We can nurture and grow this by working together within our organisation and beyond; with the wider industry, state bodies and the education sector. I am very excited to be part of this and look forward to the challenges ahead”.

Wade Murphy’s 2 year term as President of Euro-Toques will last from February 2013 to February 2015. He takes over from Gearoid Lynch, Chef/Proprietor of the Olde Post Inn in Co. Cavan who has headed up the organisation since February 2011 and who was acknowledged by members as having shown great dedication and significantly contributed to the development of the organisation during his term.

Euro-Toques Ireland has a full-time executive, headed by Ruth Hegarty, who has been with Euro-toques Ireland since 2004.

Ireland’s call for a Young Food Hero

Ireland’s Top Chefs launch Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year Competition 2012

Sunday September 9th

Ireland’s top chefs were on hand today to launch the nationwide search for Young heroes of Irish cooking through the Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year competition.  Ross Lewis, Kevin Thornton, Mary Ryan, Gearoid Lynch and Eleanor Walsh together with Euro-toques are calling out to ALL YOUNG CHEFS in Ireland, aged 18-26, to enter the competition that could change their culinary careers. Young Chefs from any type of establishment can now enter the competition via a simple online entry system at www.youngchef.ie  

In association Failte Ireland, the competition aims to search for Ireland’s Young Food Heroes that can contribute to developing Irish cooking and promoting it at home and abroad. Talent, enthusiasm and passion for Irish food are all on the menu for the 22nd year of the competition that aims to illustrate that good Irish food can come from any gastronomic background. All stages of the competition promote Euro-toques principles of local and seasonal sourcing and aims to get Young Chefs thinking about “What Irish Cooking means today”

Speaking at the launch Gearoid Lynch, President Euro-toques Ireland, Chef/Proprietor The Olde Post Inn, Co. Cavan and Young Chef 2000 said, “Our vision for this competition is to evoke the feeling of pride and thoughts of excellence when people think about Irish cooking and food. Irish culinary skills are developing at a fast rate and for this reason chefs need to be nurtured from a young age. Young Chef of the Year aims to do just that while promoting and supporting local produce at the same time.” 

Closing date for online entries is September 26th. At each stage of the competition, candidates will be whittled down and the next task revealed. 5 Finalists will be announced early November and showcased at an exciting Pop up event in Dublin’s City Centre. The final of the Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year will take place on November 25th and the winner will be revealed at an exclusive mystery event.  Members of the public will have the chance to win tickets to both events by logging onto www.youngchef.ie or via Facebook and Twitter.

Judges for the final will include Dublin born Guest Chef Trevor Moran, Sous Chef at Restaurant Noma, Copenhagen that holds two Michelin stars and was voted best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine for 3 years running (2010, 2011, 2012). The Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year will win an all -expenses paid stage in a top international restaurant, amongst other exciting opportunities.

Commenting about his role in the competition Trevor Moran, Sous Chef, Noma, Copenhagen and Guest Judge for Young Chef 2012 said, “I am really excited to be involved in this competition and see young chefs using the incredible products we have available in Ireland, both wild and cultivated. We have the advantage of a huge choice of amazing seafood, flavourful meat, and fantastic wild plants in Ireland. We need to take pride in all this and showcase it in Irish cooking, that’s what this competition is all about.

Speaking at the launch today, Kamil Dubanik, 2011 Young Chef of the Year and Senior Chef de Partie at Knockranny House commented, “The competition was a great experience while giving me an opportunity to prove my skills. While having an unforgettable time during the competition I also learned huge lessons that will stand to me during my career. Taking part in the Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year was the biggest challenge in my life so far, but well worth it as I got to meet great people from this industry that share my passion for working with only the best food products.”

ENDS

For further information please contact:

Grace O’Reilly

Insight Consultants

086 1968831 /  grace@insightconsultants.ie

Notes to Editor:

For more competition Info and online entry form at www.youngchef.ie

To keep up to date:

FB:       Euro-Toques Ireland

Twitter: @eurotoquesirl

@youngchef2012

Watch the promo video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FufY7dkf2PA

General info:

About Euro-Toques:

Euro-toques – the European Community of Chefs – was established in Brussels in 1986 by a group of the top chefs in Europe. 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, focusing 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.

Well-known Euro-Toques Ireland members include Paul Flynn, Martin Shanahan, Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, Kevin Thornton, Ross Lewis, Derry Clarke

www.euro-toques.ie

Global Village, Dingle, Co Kerry Awarded Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Restaurant of the Month, September 2012

5th Sep 2012

September, 2012: Global Village, Dingle, Co Kerry has been awarded Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Restaurant of the Month for September. Since opening in 1997, Martin Bealin and Nuala Cassidy’s long-established restaurant in Dingle Town has become a champion supporter of local produce, with fresh fish coming from inshore local fishermen, meat from Dingle farmers who operate sustainable farming policies and seasonal vegetables are grown in the Global Village’s very own chemical free garden which is run using biodynamic principles.

Commenting on the win, Proprietor Martin Bealin said “Our ethos is about showcasing the best of local foods.”. We include details of all of our suppliers on our restaurant blackboard, naming the farms from where our beef and lamb come from on any given day. We also include an introduction to our valued suppliers on our menus”.

Beef and lamb are sourced and butchered by John and Michael Ashe of Annascaul and seafood is supplied by Richard Sheehy (Ventry), Glenbeigh Shellfish and O’Cathain Iasc Teo. Vegetables are grown in the restaurant’s own garden in Ventry, or sourced from Kingdom Fresh, Dingle. Lispole Egg Farm supply free range eggs and Dingle Farmhouse Milk of Baile na nGall supply milk. Only Irish cheeses sourced from “The Little Cheese Shop” in Dingle are used, including Maja Binder’s own Dingle Peninsula cheese.

Georgina Campbell said, “Everything about Global Village is a delight, especially the local provenance and seasonality which is its raison d’etre. Any food lover attending the Dingle Food Festival (Thu 4th – Sun 7th October 2012) should have a visit here high on the list of treats to look forward to over what is sure to be a very pleasurable weekend.”

Just Ask! is a Bord Bia campaign which aims to encourage consumers to look for information on where their food comes from when eating out and encourages chef’s to provide the information on their menus. According to recent research from Bord Bia, 81% of Irish diners believe it’s important that restaurants use local produce with 72% deeming it important that the origin of meat is listed on the menu.

As part of Bord Bia’s Just Ask! programme, restaurants listed on Georgina Campbell’s ireland-guide.com website are invited to submit copies of their menus and sourcing statements. On a monthly basis, a Just Ask! winner is chosen by Georgina Campbell in agreement with Bord Bia. In addition, an overall Just Ask! annual award winner is selected as part of the Georgina Campbell Awards which take place during October.

To get involved in Just Ask! or to find out more, see http://www.bordbia.ie. With so many great value restaurants right on your doorstep, eating out is still on the menu!

For more information on Global Village visit http://www.globalvillagedingle.com

Euro-toques issues statement on Teagasc GM Potato Trial

9th Aug 2012

Teagasc GM Potato Trial – Opportunity Lost

Ireland has nothing to gain and everything to lose from the planned GM Potato trial by
Teagasc in Carlow.

Euro-toques commends the launch by Bord Bia of Origin Green. Several years of research, starting with the
Harvard ‘Pathways to Growth’ report, clearly demonstrated that Ireland has the opportunity to capitalise on
our ‘clean, green’ image, but also that we must DELIVER on that image in a tangible way. Market research
showed Irish food was considered ‘green’ and ‘untainted’, and this is something that a growing number of
consumers are demanding.

Origin Green provides a Charter for our food & drink export companies to become clean and sustainable and
to brand them as such.
Finally, we have a clear strategy on where we want to take Irish Agri-Food, our biggest indigenous industry.
Finally, we have recognised our immense potential to be world leader on sustainable food production. Finally,
we have acknowledged that our brand is our reputation, and our reputation is GREEN.
Many of the leading Irish food export companies have already signed up to this Charter. The strategy has
been endorsed at the highest levels of Government and Industry. Euro-toques also endorse this strategy. The
opportunity is clear: to market our food on our natural, sustainable image. But what is also clear is that we
must PROVE it; we must be OPEN FOR INSPECTION and we must DELIVER.

Growing genetically modified potatoes in Irish soil is entirely at odds with Origin Green and undermines our
GREEN PROMISE. European consumers have made the opposition to GM foods clear. The opportunity for
Ireland to sign up to this Charter and deliver on Origin Green, something that is uniquely natural and pure,
should not be wasted.
Euro-Toques also has a Charter, in place since its foundation in 1986, requiring that all member chefs sign
up to a strict quality-based food sourcing code. The Euro-Toques Charter rejects the use of GM products in
Members kitchens.

Euro-Toques Ireland represents over 150 Irish restaurant kitchens, employing over 2,000 chefs. Euro-Toques
Ireland members spend €100 million euro each year on food purchases alone. Around 70% of these food
purchases are of Irish origin and this figure continues to grow.

Moreover, Euro-toques International represents a market of 2,500 of Europe’s most prominent and influential
head chefs, employing in excess of 30,000 chefs in their kitchens.

Euro-Toques Ireland notes the increased purchases of Irish food ingredients in recent years by its European
Members and the high regard in which they hold Irish produce. Indeed the use of the word ‘Irish’ (as in origin)
on menu’s has become a value added statement across Europe.

Euro-Toques chefs simply want to be able to tell the story of pure, authentic Irish food and agriculture. We
strongly believe in the potential to develop Ireland as a food destination, based around this story, and believe
this is inextricably linked to our reputation as a food producer. This potential will be irreversibly damaged by
the short-sighted decision to grow GM crops on our soil.

Euro-Toques call for leadership now to reverse the decision to run a GM Potato Trial in County Carlow. It is not
in the interests of our clean, green food island.
This decision is not in the interests of our Chef Members, either in Ireland or across Europe, and is it is
certainly not in the interest of Ireland and its promise to deliver on ‘Origin Green’. We have far too much to
lose.

EURO-TOQUES IRELAND, The European Community of Chefs & Cooks
August 2012

EatGalway Awarded Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Restaurant of the Month, June 2012

7th Jun 2012

June, 2012:  EatGalway has been awarded Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Restaurant of the Month for June.  This is the first time that the award goes not to a restaurant, but to a group of establishments, all based in Galway city, as a result of their dedication to sourcing ingredients locally.

Cava, Galway’s only Spanish restaurant, was opened in 2008 by husband and wife team Jp McMahon and Drigin Gaffey.  Cava was soon followed by the terroir-based restaurant Aniar(2011) and subsequently by Eat @ Massimo (2011).  The trio sits under the EatGalway banner with the mantra. “Three restaurants, One philosophy: Good Food, Local Suppliers and Artisan Produce”.

“We are committed to showcasing local and speciality Irish foods, albeit with international interpretation,” comments Proprietor Jp McMahon.  “Around fifteen respected suppliers are listed on our menus.  With Aniar and Eat everything is sourced locally, and I mean everything, from our herbs to our mushrooms to our beef”.

The Allen family’s Casltemine Farm in Co. Roscommon supplies free range pork, lamb and grass fed beef.  Irish pork, lamb and beef are also supplied by Collearan’s Butchers of Galway and Morgan Maguire Meats in Ballinasloe.  The Friendly Farmer (Ronan Byrne) of Athenry supplies free range chicken and livers, while locally sourced fresh fish is supplied by both Moycullen Seafoods and Gannet Fishmongers in Galway. “95% of the fish we use in all three our restaurants is local”, says Jp.  At least half a dozen suppliers of vegetables and salad leaves are listed, including Green Earth Organics and Dirk and Hella Flake of Kinvara.  Milk comes from Arrabawn Dairies, Tipperary and apple juice from the Apple Farm at Cahir. Smoked salmon, mackerel and tuna all come from Connemara Smokehouse of Co. Galway.

On Thursday 14th Cava will host “Galway Tweet up”, the event aims to bring like minded food people together through twitter and gives them an opportunity to meet and discuss all things food face to face. To celebrate the event Jp McMahon is preparing a special five course menu from starter to dessert, each course will include Ronan Byrne of The Friendly Farmers pasture chicken. The menu will speak of tradition, innovation and of using local food to the highest standards of culinary art.

Georgina Campbell said, “The supplier list to the EatGalway kitchens reads like an artisan producers’ Who’s Who of the West of Ireland – what it means to the local economy is extraordinary.”

Just Ask! is a Bord Bia campaign which aims to encourage consumers to look for information on where their food comes from when eating out and encourages chef’s to provide the information on their menus. According to recent research from Bord Bia, 81% of Irish diners believe it’s important that restaurants use local produce with 72% deeming it important that the origin of meat is listed on the menu.

As part of Bord Bia’s Just Ask! programme, restaurants listed on Georgina Campbell’s ireland-guide.com website are invited to submit copies of their menus and sourcing statements.  On a monthly basis, a Just Ask! winner is chosen by Georgina Campbell in agreement with Bord Bia. In addition, an overall Just Ask! annual award winner is selected as part of the Georgina Campbell Awards which take place during October.

To get involved in Just Ask! or to find out more, see www.bordbia.ie. With so many great value restaurants right on your doorstep, eating out is still on the menu!

For more information on EatGalway visit www.eatgalway.ie

2012 EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Awards announced, as Euro-Toques chefs say, ‘Irish Farmers..WE WANT YOU’

28th May 2012

PRESS RELEASE, Monday, 28 May 2012

 Chefs seek Local Farmers for ‘No Strings Attached’ relationship, maybe more…..

 Taste Top of the Agenda as Chefs tell Irish Farmers;

“We want your produce and we’re willing to well pay for it”

at the 2012 EirGrid Euro-toques Food Awards

 Ella McSweeney was the host at today’s Euro-toques Food Awards, sponsored by EirGrid. The awards, honouring Irish farmers and food producers, were announced at a reception in Residence Club on St. Stephen’s Green this afternoon.

Euro-toques used the occasion to call on small and medium Irish farms to supply the restaurant trade, saying their chefs are willing to pay for quality. Around 70% of food purchased by Euro-toques chefs is of Irish originbut they want more.  They say that more farmers could supply direct to market and that such farmers need to be taken more seriously and can have a significant place in Irish agriculture.

We believe there is great potential for ordinary Irish farmers to supply restaurants, in combination with other direct markets, and get a better price for their product. We have seen many farmers, like two of the award winners here today, do this successfully”, Says Ruth Hegarty, Secretary-General of Euro-toques Ireland

“Farmers who choose to supply direct need to be taken more seriously. They are normal farmers who care about what they do and want to continue farming. They are just looking at alternative ways of making it viable. It is a legitimate business model and it can work. Irish restaurants can provide a platform to help them”.

Two such farmers honoured at today’s awards are:

  • Ronan Byrne, AKA The Friendly Farmer from Athenry, Co. Galway who took over his family’s 35 acre beef farm and now directly markets a range of meats, primarily his Pasture Chickens for which he won the Euro-toques award, and
  • David Burns of Richmount Farm in Co. Longford who grows Sweetcorn, in season for just 6 weeks a year. After a ‘bad experience’ trying to sell to a large retailer, he now sells direct, mainly to restaurants, and his corn is much sought after by chefs.

Two further Producer awards were presented today to:

  • Anna Leveque of Triskel Cheese who produces a range of French-style soft goats cheese from locally sourced milk in Portlaw, Co. Waterford, and
  • Manus McGonagle of Quality Sea Veg who hand-harvests seaweed on the Donegal coast. This award also included a Special Acknowledgement for Dr. Prannie Rhatigan from County Sligo, author of Irish Seaweed Kitchen, for her promotion of culinary use of Irish seaweed.

A Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Food was made to former chef and founding member of Euro-toques Ireland, Gerry Galvin of Oughterard, Co. Galway for his contribution to the development of an Irish cuisine and to the education and training of many other chefs.

The EirGrid Euro-toques Food Awards are unique in that each potential recipient must be nominated by a Euro-toques member chef. The Euro-toques Food Council, made up of 10 chefs from all over Ireland, then tastes, investigates and carries out visits before choosing winners each year. All of today’s winners have products with outstanding taste and quality, which are produced or harvested with consideration for the environment and local food traditions.

Euro-toques Ireland has 180 Chef-owner and Head chef members, representing 150 restaurant kitchens and the approximately 2,200 chefs on their staff, all of whom are committed to quality local and seasonal food sourcing. A survey of members carried last week showed they collectively serve almost 200,000 meals a week and have a combined food buying power of over €100m per year. When asked how much of what they buy is of Irish origin, members estimated they were buying on average 68% Irish goods.  Those members who have actual figures for spend on Irish goods could show an average of 73% of food purchases were Irish.

But they say they would like to buy even more Irish produce and struggle to get certain items that could be produced here. The main items that Euro-toques chefs said they would like to source locally but cannot get are: poultry products, specifically poultry from small-scale outdoor/free range systems, free range and rare breed pork, and various varieties of vegetables, herbs and salads. Even different potato varieties, suited to specific culinary uses, are difficult to source commercially in Ireland.

“What we are looking for is taste and quality, and we know we can get this from Irish farms and food producers. Today’s winners are all meeting a demand that is out there from chefs, and consumers”.

Said Gearoid Lynch, Chef/Proprietor of the Olde Post Inn in County Cavan and current President of Euro-toques Ireland, speaking at today’s reception.

“We are inviting Irish farmers into our kitchens. Tell us what you have, ask us what we are looking for, work together with us. For Euro-toques, chef and producer are in an equal partnership. Our message to Irish farmers today is this: We can give you a market for your produce and we will pay you a fair price for quality.”

This is the third year that EirGrid has sponsored the Euro-toques Food Awards.  As 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.

“We share the same values as Euro-toques, fostering job creation and indigenous rural enterprise development”, Said Dermot Byrne, CEO EirGrid, “EirGrid congratulates all the winners of this year’s Food Awards and commends Euro-toques for its ongoing commitment to enhancing Ireland’s culinary heritage”.

Award recipients took part in a photo call on O’Connell Street this morning and 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

See PHOTOS at http://www.facebook.com/eurotoquesireland/photos 

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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2012 Food Award Recipient Profiles (Detailed profiles on individual recipients are available on request)

The Friendly Farmer

What?             Pasture Chickens, reared by the Friendly Farmer. He also produces free range pigs, turkey and geese at Christmas, ducks seasonally and some beef.

Who?              Ronan Byrne, farming the 35 acres which once belonged to his grandparents

Where?           Knockbrack, Athenry, Co. Galway

The produce is available to buy:

CONSUMERS: Buy it direct from the farm, at Farmers Markets in Galway and Moycullen, from selected retailers including McGeough’s Butchers, Oughterard or order online at http://thefriendlyfarmer.blogspot.com/

                        CHEFS: Order direct from Ronan Byrne

Contact            Ronan Byrne 087 620 3765  thefriendlyfarmer@gmail.com T: @thefriendlyfarmer

Nominated By:           JP McMahon of Cava Restaurant Galway and John Coffey of Thyme Restaurant, Athlone

The Friendly Farmer AKA Ronan Byrne, farms 35 acres outside Athenry in Galway. It is a traditional mixed farm (pigs, beef cattle, seasonal turkeys, geese, ducks), but the main focus is on pasture-reared chickens for which he received today’s award. Ronan grew up on the farm and pursued studies in Agri-business & Marketing, spending some time working away from the farm in finance, marketing and promotions, before ultimately being drawn back to farming. In 2007 he had the opportunity to manage a large-scale dairy farm in Poland and during his two and a half years there he pondered how he could make the family farm viable. He finally realised that he wanted to produce good quality food for the local market and decided to focus on chicken. Returning to Athenry, he established himself as The Friendly Farmer in 2007.

He produces 115 hubbard chickens a week in a grass based system where they entire flock has easy outdoor access. These are sold direct from the farm, online, and in Galway and Moycullen Farmers markets. He also sells to a number of good restaurants in Galway, Roscommon, Athlone and even one in Donegal.

In a blind taste test Euro-toques chefs commended the taste and quality of his chickens. Chickens of this kind are highly sought after by Euro-toques chefs and demand far outweighs supply. This is precisely the kind of product they are looking for.

DAVID BURNS, RICHMOUNT FARM

What?             Sweetcorn, plain and simple

Who?              David Burns, originally a dairy farmer

Where?                Richmount Farm, Carrickboy, Co. Longford

Available to order direct from David Burns

When?             The sweetcorn is in season from September to mid-late October.

Contact                David Burns 087 8316688 dwb@iol.ie      Twitter: @dwb154

Nominated by:            Ross Lewis of Chapter One Restaurant, Dublin and Gary O’Hanlon of Viewmount House, Longford

David Burns of Richmount Farm in Carrickboy, Co. Longford was a dairy farmer for 30 years. In the latter years of his dairying (from which he has now retired) he produced intensively for winter milk and therefore began growing his own crop of maize for fodder. He continues to grow maize fodder for other farmers, and his crop even feeds the gorillas and elepahnts at Dublin Zoo.

About 9 years ago, it was suggested to him that he might also trying growing sweetcorn. The first crop grew successfully and was met with huge enthusiasm from neighbours and friends, which spurred David on to sow it again the following year. Having sold into a supermarket chain for one season, which was a “very bad experience”, David decided to go direct to market. He and his wide Martina began selling at farmers markets around Dublin and were assisted by chef Gary O’Hanlon of Viewmount House who made a sweetcorn soup for them to sell. At Dun Laoghaire Farmers Market they were discovered by another chef, Ross Lewis of Chapter One, who convinced them to supply him direct and their business took on a new direction, primarily supplying restaurants. They now have a waiting list of chefs interested in buying their corn during the short 6-8 week season on Sept/Oct and David envisages all of the 2012 crop will go to restaurants – who pay 3 times the price the supermarket was paying. His USP is that he picks the corn in the afternoon and delivers it to the chef that evening. “With sweetcorn”, he says, “Freshness is everything”.

Euro-toques commended David Burns for taking the brave step of diversifying his farm activity and taking his produce direct to market, and for supplying chefs with a fresh seasonal Irish ingredient in peak condition.

TRISKEL GOATS CHEESE

What?             Range of Hand-ladled French-style soft goats cheeses and a semi-hard cow’s cheese, made with locally sourced milk

Who?              Cheeses are all hand-made by Anna Leveque, originally from Brittany

Where?                Made in Portlaw, Co. Waterford

Available to buy

FOR CHEFS: Supplied direct to local restaurants and via La Rousse Foods & Sheridans.

FOR CONSUMERS: Available at Sheridans outlets, including Ardkeen Stores, in the English Market at On the Pig’s Back and in Ballymaloe Cookery School shop. It is also available at Farmer’s Markets in Midleton, Mahon Point, Kinsale, Mallow and Douglas.

Contact                Anna Leveque triskelcheese@hotmail.com 086 0744534

Nominated by:            Michael Quinn of Waterford Castle

Triskel Cheeses are made by Breton woman Anna Leveque in a small production unit at her home in Portlaw, Co. Waterford.

She spent much of her youth on her grandparents dairy farm in Brittany and went on to study agriculture in France. During her studies she worked on job placement for 6 months with Teagasc in Kildalton College and returned to work there when her studies were completed. During this time she had the chance to work with many Irish goat farmers and later she also spent time with a number of Irish cheesemakers. Finally, in 2009, her long term interest in and passion for dairying and cheese-making culminated in her setting up her own production unit. After much experimentation Triskel Cheese was born, and it was not long before chefs and food-lovers began to discover Anna’s wonderful range of French style soft goats cheeses.

The 3 Triskel Goats cheeses (Pyramid, Crottin & Bouche) are made from milk sourced from a goat farm in Camolin, Co. Wexford and the curds are hand-ladled into the moulds in the typical French way. She also produces a semi-hard cow’s cheese, Gwenned, using milk sourced locally in Kilmeaden.

Euro-toques recognised Triskel Cheeses as a unique style in the Irish cheese repertoire, both subtle and distinctive in taste and of excellent quality. They singled it out as an outstanding Irish product, handmade using traditional methods and locally sourced raw materials.

Anna & her partner Philip Little, an apple farmer from Portlaw, attended the awards with their 10 day old first baby, Lucie.

Quality Sea Veg

What?             Quality Sea Veg – a range of hand-harvested & air-dried seaweed products.

Who?              Manus McGonagle, who has harvested seaweed on the Donegal coast since he was a child

Where?                       Burtonport, Co. Donegal

Available to order via the website www.qualityseaveg.ie  or by phone 074 9542159

Contact                       Manus McGonagle 074 9542159 qualityseaveg@eircom.net

Nominated by: Kelan McMichael of Rathmullan House

Manus McGonagle, from Burtonport Co. Donegal, spent many summers in his childhood collecting Dulse and Carrageen seaweeds on the rocky Donegal shoreline with his father, who did this as a summer occupation throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s. They would dry the seaweed on rocks and sell it to local shops. Both seaweeds were popular in the locality at the time, the Dulse as a snack and Carrageen for use in desserts and as a traditional cough remedy. But Manus also felt there was greater potential there; to harvest a greater variety of seaweeds, all year round, and sell them further afield. Having qualified as an engineer he eventually returned to Donegal and established Quality Sea Veg, his purpose to harvest the best Sea Vegetables from the pristine Atlantic waters off the Donegal coast to meet an increasing demands in Ireland and overseas. While his purpose built modern factory uses up to date technologies, all the seaweeds are hand-harvested in the traditional way, with Manus and one other full-time harvester wading waist deep in the cold Atlantic waters or climbing slippery rock slopes to cut the seaweed. They now harvest 10 varieties commercially and, as well as online and retails sales in Ireland, have distributors in the UK and Germany and customers in many other countries.

Euro-Toques wish to recognise Manus McGonagle of Quality Sea Veg with a 2012 EirGrid/Euro-toques food award for an outstanding indigenous Irish product which is true to the traditions of his native coastal Donegal and exploits a natural resource in a way which is sustainable to produce a nutritious and useful product

As part of this award, Euro-toques also gave a SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT to Dr. Prannie Rhatigan, author of Irish Seaweed Kitchen, for her contribution to reviving the culinary use of seaweed in Ireland. Prannie is a medical doctor who grew up on the West Coast of Ireland and throughout her childhood she was aware of the culinary uses and health properties of seaweed. She spent several years researching her book, which contains her own recipes along with some from Ireland’s top chefs.

SPECIAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH FOOD

Gerry Galvin, Oughterard, Co. Galway

Former chef & restaurant owner, food writer, poet, novelist

Gerry Galvin, originally from Drumcollogher Co. Limerick, is a chef and former owner of renowned restaurants The Vintage in Kinsale (opened 1974) and Drimcong House in Moycullen. Co. Galway (opened 1984), together with his wife Marie. He is also a food writer, poet and novelist. He wrote two cookery books, Drimcong Food Affair (1992) and Everyday Gourmet (1997) and has edited and contributed to a range of food publications. In 2010 he brought out a collection of poems entitled ‘No Recipe’ and last year published his debut novel ‘Killer a la Carte’.

Gerry was a founder of Euro-toques Ireland, along with Mytle Allen of Ballymaloe House, and previously the organisation’s Commissioner-General (President). He was also a founding member of the Kinsale Food Circle and Kinsale Gourmet Festival, Ireland’s first food-focussed festival.

Within the industry Gerry Galvin is recognised as being one of the central contributors to the creation of a distinctive Irish cuisine and restaurant scene, and was a significant influence on the many chefs who trained under him and ate in his restaurants.

He was recognised with a Special Award from Euro-toques today for his very significant contribution to the Irish food scene and to the education of Irish chefs.

Gerry, now retired as a chef, lives in Oughterard, Co. Galway with his wife Marie. He is working on his second novel.