Food News: From the Irish National Pizza Championships to Food With a Story to Tell

Food News: From the Irish National Pizza Championships to Food With a Story to Tell


You’ll be hard-pressed to get so much as a sangidge around many parts of the country in the early part of the coming week as half the chefs in the country will be off to the humongous hospitality industry beano Food and Bev Live (February 4/5).

Returning to Dublin’s Citywest, the industry trade show features an absolutely packed programme of events and an exhibition of all the latest products covering food, beverages, catering equipment, and technology, all staged by the Irish Food service Suppliers Association.

The whole shebang stretches far beyond gear and gadgets, however, with all manner of events taking place including the inaugural Irish National Pizza Championships, in association with the Associazione PizzerieItaliane, as chefs from across the land battle it out to turn out finest renditions of what is surely becoming an integral part of our own national cuisine in a bid to be crowned national pizza champion.

The National Barista Championships, organised by the Irish Chapter of Speciality CoffeeAssociation and sponsored by Avonmore, will also take place, in pursuit of a new national champion to represent Ireland at the World of Coffee 2020, taking place in Warsaw next June.

Similarly, overall winner of the Bartenders Association’s Irish Cocktail Championships, also taking place, will represent Ireland at the World Cocktail Championships.

Many of the attending chefs will compete in the Chef Ireland Culinary Competitions series and The Menu is especially pleased to learn of another new arrival at the show, the inaugural Irish Foodservice Supplier Awards — the IFSAs — designed to acknowledge product and service innovation within the foodservice industry.

This year’s theme is Innovation for a Sustainable Future, awarding suppliers at the forefront of industry’s response to the environmental crisis.



Though the actual event itself won’t take place until October, The Menu brings tidings of an early bird offer (open until March 31) for what promises to be an especially appealing event, Food With a Story to Tell (October 8-11) for any aspiring food writers, courtesy of Kate Ryan’s West Cork-based, with Kateincidentally drawing up a pew alongside The Menu to judge the inaugural Cork County Cooking Championship next Monday night in Cork’s Metropole Hotel.

Based in Rosscarbery’s progressive Celtic Ross Hotel, the workshop and food tour sees renowned US food writer Dianne Jacob (author of the multiple award-winning book Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks) delivering an intimate workshop of guided writing sessions with a focus on the primacy of story and narrative in food writing, practical advice, and tips to improve writing skills as well as a private one-on-one sessions for each attendee with Jacob, to discuss writing and career goals.

Over the four days, tour guide Ryan will lead participants on various tours and meals, including a private dinner with drinks pairings; a farm visit; dinner to the superb locavore-driven Pilgrim’s restaurant in Rosscarbery; a trip to the renowned Gubbeen Farm to see its cheese production and charcuterie facilities; and dinner at one of Ireland’s very finest restaurants, the Michelin-starred Chestnut in Ballydehob, for one of chef/proprietor Rob Krawczyk’s multi-course, seasonal, local tasting menus.

With room for just 15 participants, places are at a premium and those interested would be advised to book as soon as possible. (


It is great to see the response of the hospitality sector, right across the board, to the environmental challenges ahead.

Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel bar manager Sean McGoldrick and his squad have crafted a new menu of sustainability-focused cocktails, performing their alchemy on otherwise discarded ingredients to create some truly delicious drinks, with Luke Boland’s An t-Úilín being an excellent example (apple core-infused Longueville Apple Brandy, Green Spot, apple sherbet, and caramel honey apple).

He uses apple skins to make sherbet, flesh to make caramel honey apple syrup, and the core to make an apple seed-infused apple brandy.



On a recent Sunday afternoon, as The Menu ambled lamely through Cork City in the wake of one of his future investment and pension plans, No 2 Son, the market for yet more kit and caboodle required for his multiple sporting passions which he promises will yield gold and glory to see his pater out in comfort, The Menu ducked into Nectar Coffee for a reviving cuppa Joe and would advise all to do likewise.

It does a fine line in serving up splendid coffees using excellent Irish and imported specialty roasts with some very tasty snacks to accompany same.


In one of The Menu’s more serendipitous edible encounters of recent years, he made acquaintance with the sumptuous sheep’s milk yogurt Velvet Cloud, so, not surprisingly, he was equally smitten by Rockfield Sheep’s milk cheese.

It emanates from the same Mayo farm run by Michael Flanagan and wife Aisling Roche-Flanagan, who are also the makers of these aforementioned dairy divinities.

Reminiscent of certain cheeses The Menu encountered some years ago while traipsing through the Basque country, it is a creamy, buttery affair, the higher fat content knocking off off some of the acidity and funkier traits that a sheep’s cheese can betimes display. And as it matures, it evolves into a crumbly, sweet, nutty cheese that melts away in the mouth.

The Menu found it worked especially well with a simple green salad and toasted sourdough, all washed down — in a further nod to its Basque antecedents — with a crisp dry Stonewell cider.

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