“The artisan sector in Ireland has grown so much in the last 10 years, there’s almost nothing Irish artisans don’t produce at this stage. This year’s awards have really shown where the standard is at in this country and I expect to see even more new producers and new products this time next year.” (Euro-Toques Ireland Commissioner General Wade Murphy)
This year the awards received the highest number of nominations from chefs for artisan food producers since the awards’ inception in 2005. The nominated producers covered an astounding array of categories, from artisanal beers and spirits to hand-cooked crisps, brand new farmhouse cheeses, and grass-fed poultry. The winners ranged from brand new businesses to multi-generational.
Irish artisan foods have lately been the subject of international media attention. In 2014 US Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern was blown away by his trip to Cork, especially the Gubbeen family farm. In 2009 Saveur Magazine founder Colman Andrews wrote a book about Irish food following his first visit here, linking the artisan revolution in Ireland with the “invention of modern Irish cooking.” Just this week Irish cheeses were entered for the first time in the prestigious Mondial du Fromage international concourse and came up trumps – Cashel Farmhouse Cheese and The Little Milk Company both sweeping up multiple prizes.
There are currently over 3,500 small to medium sized food businesses operating in Ireland. Euro-Toques chefs work directly with the small producers and credit this produce that comes through their kitchen doors every day with the success of their award-winning restaurants. Furthermore, supporting small local food businesses benefits the local economy too: A study by the New Economics Foundation in London found that every €14 spent at a local food business is worth €35 for the local area, compared with just €20 when the same amount is spent in a supermarket or wholesaler.
Winners this year
Siobhan Ní Ghairbhith for her St Tola Irish Goat Cheese (a range which includes unique products such as the mature raw ‘St Tola Log’ and the multi-award-winning ‘St Tola Ash Log’)
Sinead O’Brien for ‘Mungo Murphy’s (hand-harvested) Seaweed (a brand so innovative many people believe the woolly-headed seaweed guru ‘Mungo’ actually exists, including customers of ‘his’ sea spaghetti, sea lettuce, pepper dulse, kombu, dillisk, Atlantic wakame and Carrageen moss, to name a few)
Shana Wilkie for her ‘bean to bar’ organic chocolate (formerly on the production desk of the Tribune, Shana swapped newspapers for single origin organic criollo cocoa beans from Peru. Knowing her cocoa farmers by name, Shana was the first in Ireland making chocolate from bean to bar)
Rod and Julie Calder-Potts for their Highbank Orchards ‘Orchard Syrup (from the fourth generation Kilkenny farm, whose organic orchard produces some fine brandy-style apple spirit, gin and cider, Rod and Julie have created Ireland’s answer to maple syrup with this unique and original product that chefs can’t get enough of)
Padraig and Anthony Farrelly’s for Farrelly’s Butchers and Abattoir (one of the few butchers in the country with their own abattoir, the Farrelly brothers offer breeds, cuts and carcasses to order. They know the farmers and the animals they work with and even explore experimental breeds from time to time)