The organisation founded by the Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance (IFSA) - Chef Network - showed support to remarkable Irish by sponsoring the ‘Best Producer’ category, which was won by Mike Thomson from Young Buck Cheese.
This year, Chef Network was the proud sponsor of our brand new ‘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 produce some outstanding products, 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.
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.
Speaking about this partnership, Patrick Clement, chairperson of IFSA, said, “Chef Network is built upon a community of over 3,500 exciting and innovative chefs of all levels across Ireland, all of whom recognise the importance of produce in creating exceptional menus. The winner of Best Small Producer, Young Buck, is an outstanding example of innovation. As the producer of Northern Ireland’s first raw-milk, blue cheese, we’d like to congratulate Michael on his success and are excited to see how this artisan cheese producer grows.”
Mike wasn't able to make it to the ceremony, so we spoke to him afterwards to get his reaction on winning.
"It was class to win, even just to be nominated. It's so cool when you haven't been nominated before. The two times we've won something, I haven't been able to make it to the awards, so Kevin from Loose Canon has accepted the awards for me, he's like our Dublin ambassador! I have the plaque already, one of Kevin's customers, Celeste from Billy's Coffee collected it and brought it up to me.
This award means a lot because we were nominated by the industry. We work well with chefs, Jess from Kai basically adopted us in our first year, so we've been on her menus a lot. We work with La Rousse too and they've really pushed us, which has been great. I'm not from a chef background, so it's great to see that people like the product. It was good to see OX win too, so great to see the Northern lads doing well!
Over the next year, I want to keep doing the same thing hopefully. We need to try and ride out Brexit and see what that means for us because nobody knows what will happen. We'll definitely keep making good cheese though!"
Click here for more info on Young Buck Cheese.