An enthusiastic audience obligingly broke into song at Conrad Gallagher’s cookery demonstration yesterday after he warned the crowd that only those who sang a verse of The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee would be allowed to sample his delicious rib eye steak.
“I think TasteFest is a great way to promote Cork. Cork has always been synonymous with the food capital of Ireland,” said Gallagher, one of a number of celebrity chefs, including Rachel Allen and Andrew Rudd, who will give cookery demonstrations at the park over the weekend.
More than 50 artisan producers and 15 top chefs from around Cork city and county are taking part in the four day food and wine festival, which ends on Sunday.
Business was brisk yesterday as customers ran between the stalls to take shelter from the rain.
And in spite of an almost continuous downpour, most were happy they had braved the elements.
Michael O’Leary of Kerry Pike was very impressed by his beef dish with sauted new potatoes and gubeen chorizo from Springfort Hall Country House, Mallow, Co Cork.
“It was worth braving the rain for,” he said.
His daughter Joy, 16, and son Mark, 12, agreed.
Ciorsdan Campion, a student at UCC from Kikenny said the festival was a “great showcase for business” and “added to the foodie vibe in Cork,” while Aoife Hayes of High Street, Cork said the festival was family friendly.
“I would come back, but I’d probably wait for better weather!” said Ms Hayes.
Chefs were also enthusiastic about the turnout yesterday.
“We’re loving it. Even the weather hasn’t put a dampener on it. It’s a great success,” said head chef at Springfort Hall Country House Hotel, Bryan McCarthy.
Kevin Aherne, proprietor and head chef at Sage restaurant, Midleton, Co Cork said there was a large volume of people despite the weather.
“We’re enjoying it. Everybody is chatting away… enjoying the buzz,” he said.
One of the festival’s organisers, Ernest Cantillon of Electric Restaurant and Bar said Tastefest was going well, despite the weather.
“With all of the covered areas, people know they can get shelter.”
“There are lots of families, lots of kids and lots of mums. The atmosphere is good,” he said.
Meanwhile, Aine Daly and husband Denis Kelleher, from Midleton, Co Cork, felt the cover charge — at €15 per adult — was a bit expensive considering you then have to pay for much of the food.
“There is a very good range of food and it’s very good quality… but I think they might be doing themselves a bit of a disservice,” said Ms Daly.