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Introducing the Outstanding Champion, proudly sponsored by Kerrygold, the new category at the FOOD AND WINE Awards

Celebrating exceptional work.


For the first time ever, the FOOD AND WINE Awards will celebrate a personality who made their mark on the industry through their remarkable work in and out of the kitchen.

This year, for the first time, we have decided to pay tribute to someone’s exceptional work in the Irish food industry. Creating the Outstanding Champion category, proudly sponsored by Kerrygold, at the Food&Wine Awards 2019, in association with Rémy Martin, was a decision from our editor, Dee Laffan. "I introduced this award this year because I wanted to turn the focus onto the amazing initiatives and extra work that chefs do, when they are going above and beyond their roles in the kitchen. It’s important for me to highlight this because we write about these people and what they do throughout the year and it's time to put them in the spotlight," she says.

Commenting on the sponsorship of this new category, Kerrygold International Marketing manager Kate Saul said, "Kerrygold is honoured to be involved with the FOOD AND WINE Awards 2019 – one of the most prestigious events in the culinary calendar. We are particularly proud to be sponsoring the Outstanding Champion award which looks to celebrate those that go above and beyond their roles in the kitchen to truly champion Irish food. At Kerrygold, we are immensely proud to share the unique taste of natural Irish dairy with the world and, over the years, have been proud to witness Ireland’s reputation for food flourish. This reputation is truly enhanced by our culinary talents, many of whom have been shortlisted today. I would like to congratulate all of those shortlisted – it is fantastic to see the passion of our food producers mirrored by the passion of our chefs, and, on behalf of Kerrygold, I wish each of them the best of luck!"

The Outstanding Champion Award, proudly sponsored by Kerrygold, will certainly be one of the highlights of the ceremony which will take place this Sunday at the Shelbourne Hotel and we are delighted to bring the attention onto the amazing people who made it to our shortlist. 

Conor Spacey, FoodSpace

Culinary Director Conor Spacey joined FoodSpace in February 2016 and has been fundamental in building the ethos around putting fresh, seasonal and responsibly sourced ingredients at the centre of the plate. With sustainability as a core focus, FoodSpace operates catering facilities in offices and colleges around the country. Chefs come up with menus depending on what is available to them within a 50-mile radius, making sure to waste as little as possible.
“Being shortlisted for Outstanding Champion in this year’s F&W awards was a complete shock”, Conor said. “Getting to do what you do every day because it’s what you believe in and are passionate about is fantastic but for other people to see that and nominate you for an award with such fantastic chefs who are all doing great work is a bit of a pinch yourself moment.”

Daniel Hannigan, Food for Thought

Chef Daniel Hannigan of Richmond restaurant in Portobello is the brain behind Food for Thought (FFT), an initiative with the aim of inviting chefs, restaurants, front of house teams and suppliers from all over Ireland to collaborate in creating unique pop-up fine dining events.
Through these events, Daniel sought to bring people together, enjoy an evening of amazing food and also to open up the conversation around mental health and suicide.

Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School

At the helm of the most prestigious cookery school in Ireland, Darina Allen needs no introduction. An accomplished author, TV presenter, she established Ballymaloe Cookery School in 1983 with her brother Rory O'Connell. A tireless ambassador for Irish food both at home and abroad, Darina has been instrumental in placing Ireland on the culinary map.

Derry Clarke, L’Ecrivain

Another legend in the Irish food scene, Derry Clarke is celebrating this year the 30th anniversary of L’Ecrivain, his Michelin star restaurant in Dublin. One of Ireland's much loved chefs, Derry is an ambassador for Pieta House, a non profit organisation which provides much needed assistance to anyone experiencing mental illness.

Gareth Smith, Michael’s

Gareth ‘Gaz’ Smith may be one of the funniest people to follow on social media, when it comes to his cooking, he is definitely not joking. While Michael’s of Mount Merrion tops the list of the best seafood restaurants in Dublin, the successful chef has just open another joint called Little Mike’s.
“It’s actually lovely to be nominated in this category,'' he said, “as it’s not about who might not be the best chef, but about someone who has shown other ways to bring something to the trade, whether it’s being supportive to others, going the extra mile or going that bit further to keeping transparency from producer and grower to customer.”

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JB Dubois, GROW HQ

Head Chef at Grow HQ, the home of social enterprise GIY in Waterford, JB Dubois is a chef passionate by his trade. With his love for fresh, local, seasonal products, he has made of this cafe, shop and cooking school the nerve centre of a whole new sustainable way of cooking.
“It’s an honour to be listed in the same category as some huge Irish food personalities and amazing chefs”, JB said. “I am delighted to see than F&W recognises the talent of chefs as well as the message of sustainable way of cheffing I am trying to pass on to others.”

Jess Murphy, Kai

New Zealand-born Jess Murphy has been living and working in Ireland since 2003. She opened her award-winning restaurant Kai in Galway with her Irish-born husband David in 2011. Kai, which was awarded a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide, focuses on locally sourced, seasonal produce to create inventive daily menus. Along the years, Jess has become a true leader in Irish food, as well the equality movement in Ireland, which aims to empower women in the food and drinks industries.

JP McMahon, Aniar

Culinary director of the EatGalway Restaurant Group, which combines EAT Gastropub, Cava Bodega and Michelin-starred, Aniar, JP McMahon has become a community leader in the education of all things culinary, with renowned passion and purpose. A strong advocate for Irish food, he is the founder and symposium director of Food On The Edge, a not-for-profit conference gathering top international chefs seeking to make good food accessible for everyone.

Neven Maguire, MacNean House & Restaurant

Well known for his award-winning MacNean House & Restaurant, Neven Maguire is one of Ireland’s best loved chefs. A best-selling cookbook author and TV personality, Neven has been tirelessly promoting Irish food and puts his philosophy in practice by committing to using only the finest local seasonal ingredients in his own kitchen.

Ross Lewis, Chapter One

Founder of Michelin-starred Chapter One in Dublin, Ross Lewis has been a passionate advocate of Irish food and food producers. He has been thriving to reflecting Ireland’s landscape, craftspeople and artists at Chapter One, not just in the food, but in the art, design and crafts he commissions. Ross is also a firm supporter of the Food on the Edge conference, which since 2015 has been bringing together leading chefs and food producers from all over the world to explore the future of food.