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173 food and wine awards john and sally mckenna 1  main

John And Sally McKenna Named The Newest Members Of The FOOD AND WINE Hall Of Fame

Best known for their McKenna's Guides, this duo are some of the best-loved food journalists in Ireland.


John and Sally McKenna, two of the most celebrated food journalists in Ireland who are well-known for their famous McKenna's Guide plaques, were inducted into the FOOD AND WINE Hall Of Fame at the 2019 FOOD AND WINE Awards in association with Rémy Martin.

The duo, who highlight amazing Irish food destinations around the county, regularly release their famous guides, which outline the best places to visit around the country. Former barrister John McKenna has written about food since he and Sally set off around Ireland to discover more about its burgeoning food culture. As well as writing, Sally is a photographer, cookery editor and the publisher of the McKenna's Guides. She is well known for her amazing book Extreme Greens, which gives readers an in-depth look at Irish seaweed. 

John and Sally McKenna. Photo: Paul Sherwood.
John and Sally McKenna. Photo: Paul Sherwood.

The Hall Of Fame

At this year's FOOD AND WINE AWARDS, Sally and John were honoured with a beautiful speech from our food critic Aoife Carrigy, which highlights the pair's illustrious careers. Read on to see what Aoife had to say.

"In researching a piece I wrote this week looking back at my time as Deputy Editor at FOOD&WINE Magazine, I unearthed a copy of the 10th anniversary issue in which then-editor Hugo Arnold looks back at the start of this magazine, in the summer of 1997. He remarks that it was “the most exciting thing to have happened on the food front in Dublin ever…” and that it marked “a seriousness about both food and wine that simply had not happened until then.”

But he name-checks two people who, as he puts it, had already “done much to unearth pockets of creativity up and down the island that more than suggested there were serious foodies lurking among the rushes.” And he suggests that FOOD&WINE was borne out of the opportunity highlighted by the work done by that pair.

Today’s Hall of Fame award honours those two people. Their first Irish Food Guide came out a full 30 years ago in 1989, and since that time, they have remained steadfast champions of the culinary creativity that has brought Irish food to the exciting place it is today. 

They helped to shine a light on the speciality producers – the cheese-makers and bread-makers, the growers and grazers, the butchers and smokers – who have made us rethink what Irish food can be. 

They have championed the chefs and hosts, the restaurateurs and café owners, and the brewers and baristas and bartenders who have transformed Ireland’s dining and drinking scene.

They have helped to educate and share their enthusiastic appreciation with an evolving readership, one whose food literacy has developed at an equally astonishing rate. 

In those 30 years, this pair have continued to evolve their own offering, so that high amongst their many achievements is a now-annual event that couldn’t have been imaginable back in the late 80s when Ireland had no festivals to speak of, let alone a dedicated Theatre of Food in which the best of Irish food and drink is celebrated with such infectious and inclusive joy and positivity. 

Next weekend, at Electric Picnic, the Theatre of Food programme includes everything from Mexican food to Mindful eating, goat meat to vegan cooking, chapati and curry to seaweeds and sprouting in a line-up that gives Hozier and The Strokes a run for their money. 

For all their many achievements, the most significant thing is the way in which they recognised the seeds of our burgeoning food community, and used their skills to shine a light to help it grow. In their three decades as Irish food champions, they have worked hard to foster that food community, and I’m sure you’ll all join me today to congratulate them as we welcome them into the FOOD AND WINE Hall of Fame. 

I am of course speaking of the inimitable John and Sally McKenna."

John McKenna making his acceptance speech. Photo: Paul Sherwood.
John McKenna making his acceptance speech. Photo: Paul Sherwood.

Speaking about their new title, Sally told us how delighted her and John were to make it into the Hall of Fame,
"FOOD&WINE Magazine has been part of the fabric of Irish food since we first began writing. We remember the first issue! We have a shared history and have together charted the wonderful burgeoning path of Irish food for too many decades. To be inducted into the Hall of Fame is a huge and meaningful honour.
We were lucky to have started writing soon after the first big bang of Irish food and to have been in a position to document the extraordinary direction which it has taken. While watching Irish food grow and develop, we’ve also been a part of the publishing explosions of the last decades, which have seen the rise of digital content, and thankfully, the re-emergence of books as a medium to communicate. Our work has tried to describe the amazing creativity of the people who constitute Ireland’s food culture, whilst also showing how much the different people all have in common."
For more info about the McKenna's Guides, click here