The Irish Food Writers' Guild announced the winners of their 2019 Food Awards at a lunch ceremony in Glovers Alley yesterday and the focus was truly on celebrating producers from the entire island of Ireland.
“With the food industry gearing up for the impact of Brexit and with the threat of UK tariffs a real possibility, it is incumbent on us all, government, industry and consumers, to protect and support our abundance of incredible food producers, who have played a significant role in helping position Ireland as a food tourism destination,” said Kristin Jensen, chairperson of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG), who was speaking at yesterday’s annual IFWG Food Awards.
Now in their 25th year, the IFWG Food Awards celebrate indigenous food producers and organisations, north and south of the border, who help to maintain Ireland’s outstanding reputation in food and drink. This year, three producers from Northern Ireland have been selected for an award, demonstrating the all-island approach that, as a nation, we take to food production, supply and quality standards.
“Each year, the IFWG singles out a select number of products and organisations that evoke pride in our national food identity and contribute to our rich and diverse food culture. Many of these are small businesses and, together with everyone in the food industry, they have major concerns over what is coming down the track following Brexit later this month. Therefore, we urge all sectors of society to embrace sourcing, buying and eating local, high-quality produce and ensuring that all our wonderful producers survive and continue to thrive as they face into a period of great uncertainty. We believe we owe it to them and to ourselves as a great food nation, to continue flying the flag for the fantastic range of Irish produce that is available on our own doorstep,” said Kristin Jensen.
Winners from north and south of Ireland
Food Award: Hegarty Cheese for Teampall Gael Cheese (Co. Cork)
The Hegarty family are fifth-generation dairy farmers in North Cork. In 2000 they began experimenting with cheese-making and since 2001 have used only the milk produced by their own Friesian cows, making their cheese fully traceable from the field to the finished product. In 2015 they started producing a new cheese, Teampall Gael, which is matured for at least nine months and is made in 40kg wheels that have to be brushed and turned three times a week, resulting in a Comté-style raw milk cheese that has a sweet, delicate, nutty flavour.
Food Award: Mike Thomson for Young Buck Cheese (Co. Down)
Mike Thomson raised £80,000 through crowdfunding to start making Young Buck, Northern Ireland’s first raw-milk blue cheese. The milk for the cheese is sourced from a small farm 10 miles from Mike’s home in Co. Down. Six hundred litres of milk are collected daily to create just 27 wheels of Young Buck a week. Young Buck is a Stilton-style cheese, with a strong, salty flavour and a characteristic knobbly crust, that features on the menus of several Michelin-starred restaurants.
Food Award: Dunany Flour for Organic Spelt Berries (Co. Louth)
The Workman family’s Dunany Farm is a traditional fourth-generation enterprise, producing organic grains since 2006. Best known for their flours, the Workmans are innovative and experimental and recognised a gap in the market for growing spelt in Ireland. High in fibre and B vitamins and low in gluten, Dunany organic spelt berries are a unique and versatile Irish-grown wholegrain and a great alternative to imported grains.
Irish Drink Award: Killahora Orchards for Rare Apple Ice Wine (Co. Cork)
Killahora Orchards is a family business founded on an estate dating back to 1837, where more than 130 varieties of apple and 40 perry pear varieties are grown. Always pushing the boundaries of what can be made with Irish fruit, the range includes craft cider, apple port, perry and their premier drink, for which they are being awarded, Rare Apple Ice Wine. It is made by slowly freezing apples and then thawing the pressed apple juice to create a richer must than you would get from regular pressing. It is then partially fermented to keep the natural sugars intact. It is recommended as a dessert wine but works equally well with pork and cheeses.
Outstanding Organisation Award: 3fe (Co. Dublin)
Colin Harmon quit a career in finance in 2008 to devote himself to coffee. By 2009 he had won the Irish Barista Championships, placed 4th in the World Barista Championships and opened 3fe in the lobby of the Twisted Pepper nightclub in Dublin. He now supplies to more than 50 businesses and runs three cafés, a restaurant and roastery facility. 3fe is being awarded for the company’s commitment to sustainability in the areas of purchasing principles, waste and energy use, staff welfare and community.
Environmental Award: Broughgammon Farm (Co. Antrim)
The Broughgammon Farm rears male goats that would have otherwise been put down at birth to product delicious and healthy cabrito kid goat meat. The farm believes in a sustainable, local food chain and as such encourages back-to-basics, nose-to-tail, fork-to-field and seasonal eating. They now rear free-range rosé veal and seasonal wild game as well. Their Environmental Award is in recognition of their exceptional commitment to the environment, which goes above and beyond their ethical farming practices.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Hannan (Co. Down)
Peter Hannan grew up on a beef and sheep farm in Co. Kildare and founded Hannan Meats in 1991. Hannan Meats still serves its first five clients as well as some of the finest establishments in the UK, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. Provenance is one of the guiding principles of Peter’s business, and he works closely with a network of almost 150 of the best beef farmers in Northern Ireland and the Republic to produce the highest-quality meat. The Irish Food Writers’ Guild is proud to present Peter with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his continued work as one of Ireland’s most dedicated and highly-respected food champions.
And the winner of the 2019 Community Food Award: Cork Penny Dinners (Co. Cork)
Cork Penny Dinners was founded during famine times in the 1840s and is one of Cork’s oldest charitable organisations. Their core service is to offer a nourishing hot meal in a safe environment to all those in need. Currently, they serve up to 2,000 freshly made meals each week. The charity will soon have the opportunity to expand its services as it plans to move to James Street to offer educational opportunities; a full music programme; a clinic operated on a rotating, voluntary basis by 52 local GPs; classes in sewing, cooking and repair; and assistance in everyday administrative tasks.
The Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards were hosted at Glovers Alley, with a lunch devised and prepared by executive chef Andy McFadden, who incorporated the produce of each winner into a celebratory menu.
- Broughgammon Farm Goat Shoulder, Waldorf Salad
- Dunany Organic Spelt Risotto
- Peter Hannan’s Salt-Aged Glenarm Beef Sirloin, Salt-Baked Celeriac, Hazelnuts and Truffle
- Killahora Orchards Rare Apple Ice Wine Granita, Sheep’s Yogurt Mousse, Honey and Lime
- 3fe Coffee Crémeux, Jivara Chocolate and Citrus
- Teampall Gael and Young Buck Cheese, Rhubarb and Apple Chutney
For more, visit the Irish Food Writers' Guild website.