Chefs, experts and foodies to whet their appetites at festival

A PARADE of pigs will get the fourth annual Waterford Festival of Food under way today with cooks, experts and foodies set to descend on the region for the weekend.

Thousands of visitors are expected in Dungarvan for the event, which includes Ireland’s second Food Camp taking place today and a discussion on artisan food production.

The “pigs” on parade for this evening’s opening represent the craftwork of local groups and clubs and schoolchildren from across the area will be involved.

Representatives of various state agencies such as Bord Bia will be among the attendance at today’s Food Camp, along with Earnan Ó Cléirigh of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who will speak on the subject of food security.

Mr Ó Cléirigh and his colleagues are involved in reporting on the performance of donors on the commitments, covering money and effectiveness, to food security made at the G8 summit in l’Aquila in 2009. Another Food Camp speaker will be RTÉ’s Ella McSweeney, who will address the importance of supporting and developing local producers and help grow them into export enterprises.

“There has been a surge of interest in food that’s ‘Made in Ireland’ over the past 18 months, it’s been a remarkable turnaround,” Ms McSweeney said. “The focus and attention given to Irish farmers and producers — so importantly celebrated at events like the Waterford Food Festival — is much needed in Ireland at this time.”

The Food Camp will involve free speaking sessions culminating in a panel discussion on the future of Ireland’s food industry chaired by Peter Ward of Irish Country Choice in Nenagh.

Also on the Food Camp panel will be well-known British blogger and Waterford native, Niamh Shields from the Eat Like A Girl blog; Anike Tyrrell of the Waterford County Enterprise Board; Jim Power of Love Irish Food, Michael Quinn, executive chef at Waterford Castle and Eileen Bentley of Bord Bia’s Small Business Department.

The Food Camp is one of the many new additions to the Festival of Food programme while a host of celebrity and local chefs including Paul Flynn, Ross Lewis, Martin Shanahan, Mark Hix and Richard Corrigan will be in town for cookery demonstrations.

Sunday will feature a Farmers’ Market Extravaganza in Grattan Square, with the best of artisan food produce from the south-east.

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