Celebrity chef criticises VAT hike

CELEBRITY chef Neven Maguire has said raising VAT to 23% is “shooting ourselves in the foot”, and will lead to more shoppers going North of the border.

He said the Government “wants us to stay here and shop here but where is the enticement if the VAT goes up? I don’t think it will help anybody — not the consumers who will have to pay more, not the shops that are struggling and it’s the last thing we need with incomes already being affected”.

However, he said that his restaurant — MacNean House in Blacklion, Co Cavan — has had its “best year yet”.

He concurred with the findings of a new survey that found more people are cooking from scratch at home and that 45% of us are hosting dinner parties at least once a month, with most spending more than €50 on ingredients.

Mr Maguire was speaking at the Taste of Louth food festival and said he had been “blown away” by the great produce and producers from the county.

He advised home chefs to, “cook food that is in season, it tastes better, it is better value and is better all round” and encouraged people to shop at home.

The survey, by Consumer Intelligence and carried out by Empathy Research, found Leinster people spend an average of between €76 and €100 on food for their parties, more than their counterparts from the other four regions in Ireland.

Angela Healy, research director at Empathy said: “Our love of cooking is on the rise and almost three-fifths of participants in our recent survey entertain at home more due to the current recession.”

Ms Healy pointed out that 64% of respondents said that their local supermarkets did not stock all they needed for hosting their dinner parties.

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