After writing about Irish success in the Great Taste Awards last week (I was also delighted to hear that my favourite Ummera smoked chicken took a Gold award), I was interested to receive this press release (see below) about the just-launched Irish Food Awards.
Awards will be given in a total of 17 categories, including preserves/conserves, breads, chocolate, ice cream, seafood and cheeses. To be eligible, all foods entered must be commercially available in at least three outlets and be made in either Northern or Southern Ireland by companies registered in this country. The awards will take place at the Dingle Peninsula Food and Wine Festival, on the weekend of 3rd to 5th October – another good excuse to head into Kerry for a couple of days! More information is available in the press release below and at www.irishfoodawards.com.
INAUGURAL IRISH FOOD AWARDS LAUNCHED– celebrating our food heroes -August 2008. The search is on for the best food and drink Ireland has to offer with the launch of the inaugural National Irish Food Awards, ‘Blas Na hÉireann’, the first awards of their kind in Ireland.Blas na hÉireann will celebrate and recognise both the passionate, driven people behind this country’s exceptional food and drink and the fantastic products that they make.There will be 17 categories ranging from meat, poultry and pie to cheese and chocolate. The winners of each category will then do battle for the prestigious title of overall Producer of the Year 2008. Supported by Udaras na Gaeltachta and BIM, the awards will be independently judged by a panel of experts including food buyers, retailers, writers, chefs and industry figures and overseen by the Food and Nutritional Sciences Department of UCC.The winners will be presented at an Awards Ceremony on the 5th October 2008, in Dingle, Co. Kerry at the annual Dingle Peninsula Food & Wine Festival.Says Éamonn Ó Neachtain, Regional Manager of Údarás na Gaeltachta, “Total employment linked to the Irish food and drink industry is almost 230,000 and the sector has a gross output of over €18 billion per year. Within this, speciality food has shown particular strong growth and become big business in a country where many traditional farmers have had to diversify in order to stay afloat. This success has been responsible for re-invigorating local communities, inspiring confidence in our artisan producers and encouraging support amongst restaurateurs and retailers alike. ““Through the publicity and business opportunities created by Blas na hÉireann, we are hoping to help in the creation of long term, sustainable markets for these products, and also to use it s quality as a means of attracting visitors the world over to Ireland.”A full list of awards is available on the website, www.irishfoodawards.com, along with a downloadable copy of the awards criteria and entry form. The deadline for entries is Friday 5th September.