The organisation founded by the Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance (IFSA) is showing its support to remarkable businesses by sponsoring the ‘Best Producer’ category, which Mike Thomson from Young Buck Cheese was named the winner.
This year, Chef Network is the proud sponsor of the ‘Best Producer’ category at the FOOD AND WINE Awards 2019 which took place on Sunday 25th August at The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. Highlighting the talent and commitment of chefs and food entrepreneurs with an ethical approach is directly aligned to Chef Network’s ethos, which is working to promote a positive kitchen culture in Ireland.
Chosen for their efforts to promote sustainability, support local initiatives and producing some outstanding product, the three companies shortlisted this year were Crawford’s Farm, Co Tipperary, Imbibe Coffee, Dublin 8 and Mike Thomson for Young Buck Cheese, Co Down.
And the winner is...
Mike Thomson, Young Buck Cheese
With his Young Buck, a splendid blue cheese, Mike Thomson has created a new tradition of raw milk cheesemaking in Northern Ireland. Launched in 2014 thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, his project based in Co Down was to buy milk from a single herd and to produce Northern Ireland’s first raw milk cheese, which we now know as the acclaimed Young Buck, served in some of the top restaurants in the country.
Located in Dolphins Barn, D8, Imbibe has adopted a ‘conscious capitalism’ approach, paying staff a living wage, aiming for zero waste, working with ethical farming cooperatives and making charitable donations an integral part of the business.
Founder Gary Grant had two main goals when he set up the company: “to roast great coffee and help a cause.” And it’s fair to say that the targets have been met: since its launch Imbibe has donated 1% of its sales to Irish women’s charity Women’s Aid, which helps victims of domestic abuse, and plan on donating a further 1% of turnover to various projects in coffee-producing countries, such as Colombia or Yemen.
Located in North Tipperary, Crawford’s Farm is a certified organic farm. The land is divided into many parcels to allow for rotation and to facilitate a mixed animal and grain farming. Owners Owen and Mimi Crawford produce some of the best raw products around – raw meaning they haven’t been pasteurised or homogenised so they retain all the wonderful nutrients.
This small scale family micro-dairy farm uses Shorthorn milking cows, which are the perfect breed for both meat and dairy. The cow's pasture on grains that are grown on the same farm. They don't use pesticides or herbicides, which gives their milk that taste of purity.
The Kitchen Workplace Charter
Supporting these outstanding producers is a natural step for Chef Network. Founded by the IFSA, the Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance, this initiative aims to bring together chefs from all sectors, at all stages of their careers, to communicate, collaborate, share and innovate. Its goals are to attract and retain chefs in the industry, improve standards of training, and to promote and maintain culinary skills - believing that the drive for all this must come from chefs themselves.
Last year, Chef Network launched a ‘Kitchen Workplace Charter’, developed by chefs for chefs to promote better workplaces and positive environments. Establishments and companies including Gather&Gather, Dalata Hotel Group, Lough Erne Resort, the Gleneagle Hotel group, Limerick Strand and many more have signed up to it and committed to creating a positive kitchen culture.
The Kitchen Workplace Charter is based on five key principles:
- To build a positive and encouraging environment
- To nurture camaraderie and team spirit
- Promote learning and development
- Prioritise work life balance
- Give back to the chef community
Head of Community at Chef Network, Ruth Hegarty explains: “As a workplace, the reputation of kitchen culture needed to change. There has already been significant positive improvements in this area, but we felt that by developing a specific Kitchen Workplace Charter we could affect real and meaningful cultural change in the industry."
“Retaining talent is a key issue in the hospitality industry and for kitchen workplaces, committing to the Kitchen Workplace Charter speaks volumes in terms of what establishments stand for, their culture and how they treat their staff.”
To become a member of Chef Network, register for free at ChefNetwork.ie.