Dublin, Tuesday November 4, 2014
400 food producers and chefs from all corners of Ireland have been furiously preparing to create Ireland on a plate for the 20,000 delegates and journalists at this year’s Web Summit, kicking off this morning in the RDS. Good Food Ireland is providing exclusively Irish artisan food to those 20,000 delegates over the three days of this enormous and ground-breaking conference, all in a specially built food village in Herbert Park.
It started last year when Paddy Cosgrave, founder of the Web Summit, visited Margaret Jeffares of Good Food Ireland on her farm in Wexford, and exploded 10 days later into a celebration of Irish food that wowed international guests at Web Summit 2013. Continuing the momentum of last year’s hugely successful partnership, food takes centre stage again with this year being an even bigger showcase of the best of local Irish food and produce from all four corners of the island.
Those busy and dedicated Good Food Ireland chefs, producers, growers, foragers, cheese makers, bakers, chocolatiers, preserve makers and artisan speciality food creators have now finished their preparations, packed up their cars and vans in readiness for the trip to Dublin to participate in the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland – the largest ever showcase of Irish artisan food.
14,000 guests from all over the world (including 1,200 international journalists) will enjoy exclusively Irish artisan food on the first day of the Web Summit, 14,000 on Wednesday, and 10,000 on Thursday, the largest audience ever assembled to experience this demonstration of all that is good about Irish ingredients. There are also private events, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, which will be showcasing Irish food to smaller groups, making up an additional 1600 guests per day, and depending on the delegate, guests can experience food by up to 60 different Irish chefs and producers in any one day.
An all-island organisation, Good Food Ireland is a like-minded collection of people committed to growing the island of Ireland as a food tourism destination and to prioritising the importance of local Irish food. The Food Summit with Good Food Ireland is an opportunity to put on the green apron, and to tell the story of Irish food in a very real way to an engaged and informed audience.
From the smallest producer, handpicking wild produce, to the family farmers, up before the sun, from the little rural café, baking their locally famous biscuits to the Michelin-star chef, creating memorable dishes from the finest Irish ingredients, the Good Food Ireland family comes together in all its strength, professionalism and enthusiasm to show the world what is great about this food island.
As Margaret Jeffares, founder of Good Food Ireland, says “Good Food Ireland members have gone into overdrive to meet the requirements of each day of the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland, but the challenge is a pleasure, as there is nothing more satisfying than telling the story of Irish food in a very real way to an appreciative audience. The Food Summit with Good Food Ireland is Ireland on a plate, created by individuals with passion, dedication and pride. What we are doing at the Food Summit is not just important for each individual business, but for the reputation of the whole country as a food island.”
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Some fast figures:
• Over the course of the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland, chefs will create over 54,000 kgs of hot food dishes.
• There will be 1,000 vegan meals prepared daily.
• There are 3,500 Ulster soda farls being served at the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland, 6,000 Irish oatcakes and 7,000 Waterford blaas.
• An amazing 432,000 tastings of Irish beef, lamb, pork, duck, chicken, fish, seafood, fruit and vegetables will be served.
• There will be 12,000 tastings of Irish ciders, craft beers and fruit juices.
• 10,000 jars of yoghurt are being prepared.
• There will be 35,000 slices of cooked beef, ham and charcuterie served over the course of the event.
• Almost 3,000 kgs of Irish farmhouse cheeses and butter are being readied.
• One single producer is supplying 10,000 Irish apples, and another 5,000, and yet another is bringing 10,000 bags of crisps.
• 500 sides of Irish smoked salmon are waiting to be eaten.
• One farmer is bringing 39,000 baby potatoes on day one of the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland, and 4,000 baby carrots on day two.
• 40,000 jars of chutneys and relishes are ready to go.
• There will be over 20,000 handmade chocolates served and 10,000 tubs of ice creams and sorbets
And some detail:
Blessed are the cheesemakers…
There is an impressive selection of cheesemakers from Good Food Ireland participating in the Food Summit this year bringing their exceptional ranges of magnificent Irish cheeses to Dublin from all over the country, including…
Breda Maher of Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese in Tipperary is bringing her 3-star Great Taste Award-winning Brie, hand-made from her own herds, to the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland. She sent cheese last year but couldn’t make the event herself, so she is very much looking forward to getting to it this year. “It’s a privilege to be part of it,” she says.
Victor O’Sullivan of Bluebell Falls has his 220 strong herd of goats – a mix of breeds, white Saanen and brown Toggenburg from Switzerland, plus black and white British Alpine goats – grazing happily in preparation, and Helen Finnegan of Knockdrinna is also getting ready, both of whom are making 275 kg each of their respective goats’ cheeses, and Jane Murphy from Ardsallagh near Carrigtwohill is making 1,750 hand-shaped goats’ cheeses.
Toby Simmonds of Toonsbridge is producing 275 kg of his distinctively Irish buffalo mozzarella, with the extra challenge of producing 24-hour-old, spankingly fresh Irish grass-fed mozzarella for the Thursday of the Food Summit. Toby’s 4th generation buffalo mozzarella cheesemaker, Franco Picciuolo from Capua, will be milking the 90 water buffalo from the Toonsbridge herd and working furiously in advance of this fantastic showcase of Irish food.
Eamonn and Patricia Lonergan will bring their award-winning Knockanore Farmhouse Cheddar, made from the rich raw milk from their own pedigree Friesian herd, something they have been perfecting at their farm in Waterford since 1987.
Wild at heart…
Sharon Greene of Wild Irish Foragers has pressed her foraged crop of crab apples by hand, to make the necessary 150 pots of 120g crab apple and chilli fruit cheese for the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland. The handmade nature of the process means she only makes 12 pots per batch, so she has been furiously pressing and making for the past few weeks. Fruit cheeses are a traditional Irish condiment not dissimilar to membrillo (although it’s “membrillo with an actual flavour” says Sharon!), and she has added a smidgen of chilli (not entirely traditional) to bring out the flavour of the crab apples. Wild Irish Foragers is a family business, using only wild, hand-picked foods from their 50-acre farm in Offaly, made into syrups, sauces, jellies, preserves, shrubs and fruit cheeses using old Irish recipes.
Veronica Molloy of Crossogue Preserves will be supplying a huge variety of her jams and marmalade to the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland, and was recently out picking sloes for her newest variety, a hedgerow jam. As Crossogue is also a hand-made operation, the staff have been flat out producing the hedgerow jam but also a rhubarb and ginger, blackcurrant, blackberry and apple, and summer fruit jam as well as Crossogue Preserve’s legendary Irish whiskey breakfast marmalade, all to be served with the fabulous range of breads, butters and crackers at the Food Summit with Good Food Ireland.
Veronica loved being part of last year’s inaugural event with Good Food Ireland at the Web Summit, saying that it created an enormous common bond with other Good Food Ireland members who participated, and enhanced the very genuine sense of family that she thinks is so important about being part of this organisation.
An all-island bread basket…bread & butter from north and south of the border
The various forms of bread in the bread buffet come from all over the country, making it an all-Ireland bread basket. Waterford blaas (Dermot Walsh of M&D Bakery) sit beside Ditty’s oatcakes and Ulster farls from Co. Down (Robert Ditty) and next to gluten-free and vegan breads and scones from Galway’s Foods of Athenry (Siobhan Lawless), sourdough from the Bretzel Bakery (William Despard), soda bread from Arbutus (Declan Ryan) and barm brack from Hickeys Bakery in Tipperary (Nuala Hickey) and Barrons bakery in Waterford (Esther & Joe Barron).
As Dermot Walsh of M&D Bakery, who is providing 7,000 blaas to the Food Summit, says of the Good Food Ireland members contributing to the all-island bread basket “We all love what we do, and we love who we are doing it for – an appreciative audience. Working with the other Good Food Ireland members at this event is also an opportunity to get to see friends from the four corners of the country, and what we are doing at the Food Summit is not just important for our own businesses, but for the reputation of the whole country as a food island.” And Michael Palferman of Ditty’s, who are bringing 3,500 Ulster farls and 6,000 Irish oatcakes to the Food Summit, agrees that the entire mood of this year’s event is brilliantly positive and upbeat.
Some of the bread story also applies to the idea of food without borders, as does the butter, with one butter producer from north of the border, one south with Allison & Will Abernethy’s butter from Co. Down and Cuinneog’s from Mayo (Seamus Mulligan).
Vegan, gluten-free and free-from…
The vegan/vegetarian main course options are being provided by a variety of suppliers (Ballymaloe are doing a chickpea stew) but the biggest responsibility for the vegan dishes is with Cornucopia (Deirdre McCafferty). They will be doing up to 1000 vegan meals a day, with the chef from their busy Dublin restaurant making 50% more food every day than he does in a week in the restaurant!
Siobhan Lawless in Foods of Athenry has also taken some of her already considerable free-from range of breads, crackers and scones and has subtly replaced certain ingredients to make even more of them gluten-free and vegan. A woman passionate about providing delicious options for people on marginalised diets, Foods of Athenry have what she calls a “great taste guarantee” in that every single free-from product they produce stands or falls on how good it is to eat – no “it’ll do” here, and they have almost 40 Great Taste Awards to back that up! Replacing eggs, dairy and flour with options like mashed banana, avocado and coconut oil and flour is a time-consuming and expensive process, but Siobhan says it’s well worth it when she sees the expressions on people’s faces when they eat these carefully made and delicious treats and are amazed by the flavours.
As well as some vegan and many gluten-free and breads and scones, chocolate biscuit bars and flapjacks, Foods of Athenry are also providing double-baked gluten-free soda bread craicers, vegan honeyed almond and rosemary craicers, and a new range of tiny cookie shots, Brownies and Blondies, just 18 calories per gluten and wheat-free biscuit, and perfect with a cuppa for all those hard-working delegates at the Web Summit.
10,000 Irish apples are being provided for delegates to the Web Summit by Con Traas and The Apple Farm in Tipperary. With the emphasis on Irish varieties, what these apples look like is of much less importance than how good they taste, something many large retailers are now coming around to, giving consumers the choice to eat ‘ugly fruit’ so as to prevent food waste. Con Traas of The Apple Farm says that delegates last year were really impressed by the delicious flavour of these home grown varieties – over 15 different kinds are grown on his farm – even though some of them may have been oddly shaped, but this year because of the great summer we’ve had, the apples are even prettier than usual too! As 95 of every 100 apples eaten in this country are from abroad, Con is keen that as many people as possible get to experience the exceptional flavour of a real Irish apple.
A little something sweet…
Patricia Farrell of Wilde Irish Chocolates in Clare is handmaking 2,000 mini tasting chocolate squares, featuring up to 30 different flavours and varieties, which will be served after the final dinner on Thursday evening of the Web Summit. These time-consuming and labour intensive chocolates are individually hand decorated, so the process of getting them ready has taken a few weeks for this small artisan business.