Action plan to be aired at Taste of West Cork Food Festival forum

West Cork food and tourism stakeholders are to join forces to formulate a five-year action plan entitled ‘How to Achieve Universal Recognition for the West Cork region’.

The action plan will first be aired at the inaugural Belling Forum, a new regional think tank which is being launched on Saturday, Sep 7, as part of the Taste of West Cork Food Festival 2013, which also features the Belling West Cork Artisan Awards.

Festival chairwoman, Helen Collins, said: “Opinion leaders and those who are influential in the development of West Cork will discuss the future opportunities for the food, tourism, educational and IT industries.

“The Belling West Cork Artisan Awards recognises and acknowledges the huge contribution that West Cork artisan food producers have made over the past 25 years and continue to do so.”

Food producers and restaurants are offering free lunch to visitors to the Taste of West Cork Food Festival 2013, running from Friday, Sep 6, to Sunday, Sep 15.

Now in its tenth year, the festival’s participating restaurants in Skibbereen, Baltimore, Glandore, Union Hall, Leap and Casteltownshend will each showcase a specific product from West Cork.

Visitors to the region can, with proof of travel or accommodation, get €10 vouchers for their free lunch from the Festival Box Office. The free lunch promotion is sponsored by Field’s Supervalu in Skibbereen, and gives participants a choice of either a starter and a main course or a main course and dessert.

Helen Collins said: “West Cork is the natural home for a festival celebrating artisan foods and showcasing a delicious array of foodstuffs prepared with great taste, health, and best practice in mind. We look forward to welcoming visitors from near and far in what we hope will be the biggest and best festival yet.”

This year’s festival features a mix of food markets and demonstrations, cookery competitions, special dinners, brunches and banquets, food-tastings, movies, talks, walks, music, exhibitions, and several children’s events.

Festival highlights include a Growing Awareness project, the Skibbereen Farmer’s Market, the Belling West Cork Artisan Food Awards and visits to stately homes and gardens in the region.

The Growing Awareness Project, running throughout the festival, aims to give budding food producers the skills needed to grow fresh produce. The project will feature a series of life-size vignettes depicting the History of Pizza, from the growing of wheat in Africa over 10,000 years ago through to the making of the very first pizza in Ireland in 1954.

A Growers Seminar on Saturday, Sep 9, will include eminent guest speakers Guy Watson of Riverford Farm, UK, whose farms produce over 47,000 crates of fresh organic vegetables each week; and Eoin Lettice, a plant scientist of UCC.

On successive Saturdays, Sep 7 and 14, the Skibbereen Farmers Market will run from 9.30am to 1.30pm. The market features a fresh fruit and vegetable stalls, baked goods and an array of other local produce such as honey, preserves and cheeses.

The Awards night on Sep 7 also offers an opportunity and incentive to new producers to strive harder in rigorously pursuing the best product in their category, be it baked goods, confectionery, dairy, fruit and vegetables, etc.

Winners of the awards will each receive €5,000, including a bursary for a student engaged in developing a new product.

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