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Darina allen  hugh maguire the smokin  butcher and olivia duff launch national black pudding day at samhain festival 2019
Darina Allen, Hugh Maguire The Smokin' Butcher and Olivia Duff launch National Black Pudding Day at Samhain Festival 2019.

Virtual Boyne Valley Samhain Festival kicks off tomorrow

Samhain Festival 2020 will be streaming from 12pm on November 8th.


Need a gastronomic activity this weekend?

The pandemic has cancelled heaps of our favourite festivals - Electric Picnic, we're looking at you - but thankfully, the Boyne Valley Samhain Festival will still be going ahead this year, albeit in a virtual setting instead of in County Meath as it was last year.

Streaming live and for free via Facebook Live, the Boyne Valley Samhain Festival will take place on Sunday, November 8th from 12-4pm and is themed around 'Recovery Through Food'. Curated and co-directed by Irish Food Champion Olivia Duff and Boyne Valley Flavour ambassadors Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon of the GastroGays food website, this year's speakers include the likes of Darina Allen, John and Sally McKenna, Domini Kemp and more.

Speaking about the festival, Patrick and Russell told us how important continuing the conversation around food is to the, especially this year. 

“We believe food, even just the conversations around it, has the power to comfort, to heal, and to bring people close together," they said. "So whilst we all need to stay apart we’re delighted to be involved once again in Samhain and ensuring the conversation continues in 2020."

Writers and Chew The Fat podcast hosts Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon, who have co-curated and directed this year's events.
Writers and Chew The Fat podcast hosts Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon, who have co-curated and directed this year's events.

This year's events

Tomorrow's schedule is jam-packed with great talks from some of our favourite personalities from around the country, so we recommend tuning in for the whole day. Here's the list of events taking place:

  • First up, at 12pm John and Sally McKenna, in conversation with FOOD&WINE's very own Aoife Carrigy, will be discussing their new book Milk, which celebrates Irish dairy in all its glory.
  • The Great Restaurant Pivot talk will take place at 1pm as chef restaurateurs Jordan Bailey of Aimsir, Padraic Óg Gallagher of The Boxty House and L. Mulligan Grocer's Séaneen Sullivan sit down with Patrick and Russell to discuss how they have innovated in order to endure their businesses survived this trying year.
  • At 2pm, Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School, University College Cork lecturer Regina Sexton and Caroline Hennessy of the Irish Food Writers Guild will be discussing the hardships Irish people have come through in terms of food in their 'Plagues, Pandemics and Potato Blights' talk. Their conversation will examine how we can use the wisdom of the past to create an informed approach to the future of food beyond the current pandemic.
  • Cookbook author Rory O'Connell, also of Ballymaloe Cookery School, will host a short cookery demonstration in celebration of the second annual National Black Pudding Day at 2.40pm using The Smokin' Butcher Hugh Maguire's award-winning smoked black pudding.
  • At 3pm, chef-restaurateur Domini Kemp will discuss 'Food For Recovery' with consultant dietician Paula Mee and healthcare chef Joyce Timmins, emphasising the pivotal role that food plays in the healthcare industry. 
  • To finish off the day, Olivia Duff will lead a panel discussion at 4pm on the day's theme 'Recovery Through Food'. The panellists will include Michelin-starred chef JP McMahon, Jacinta Dalton of GMIT and president of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Mark McGowan. 

For more information, please visit boynevalleyflavours.ie. To tune into the virtual festival, visit Boyne Valley Flavours on Facebook between 12-4pm and interact with others through social media by using the hashtag #Samhain2020.