Often dubbed the ‘Academy Awards of Irish food’, they are the largest food awards in the island, open to all 32 counties, and this year more than 400 finalists competed across 130 categories.
Cork producers, reflecting the Rebel County’s status as the stronghold and original birthplace of the specialty food producer movement in this country, scored highest, garnering 65 awards, eclipsing all other counties, with only Dublin coming close, with 58 awards.
Leeside winners included newcomers Gloun Cross Dairy, from Dunmanway, who secured double gold for their farm fresh milk and double cream. Other Cork gold winners were Durrus Cheese, Nut Case Food Company, Bertha’s Revenge Sloe Gin, and Hassett’s Bakery, from Carrigaline, with a commendable three golds and six awards overall.
But the most coveted prize of all went to Glenstal Foods, in Co Limerick, for their traditional-style Irish Creamery Butter.
Blas awards CEO Artie Clifford said the award was well deserved.
“I am delighted to see them win — the taste sparks a real food memory for me, it reminds me of my childhood on holidays in Mitchelstown and making our own butter at the kitchen table and it tasted exactly the same.
“The awards continue to surprise me, year after year,” said Clifford at the end of Saturday evening’s prizegiving ceremony.
“Every time, I think we’ve reached the peak and then a year later the standards have risen again, when I think that Irish food has reached an unsurpassable level, the producers go and prove me wrong again.”
While the Kerry town was chock-a-block for the weekend hosting competitors and their parties, along with a whole host of industry figures, including buyers from Ireland and abroad, many more again were in town for the Dingle Food Festival out of which the Blas awards originally emerged.
Local publican Eileen Moriarty welcomed the return of “yet another wonderful weekend for Dingle” and echoed the surprise of many that the town hadn’t been washed away entirely as the promised deluge largely held off. Puckish punters thronged the streets grazing on the hoof at any of the myriad pop-up ‘restaurants’ set up for the weekend, operating alongside the town’s hostelries, cafes and restaurants, every last one of them crammed to the rafters.
Festival co-chair Mark Murphy said it was another huge success. “Numbers appear to be higher, including way more international tourists, and each year the bar for the festival is pushed higher and higher, the food offerings get better and better, and the feedback has been phenomenal.”
The producers’ market that lines several of the town’s streets was the place to be yesterday, the festival’s closing day. As winners and their entourages recovered from the previous night’s celebrations, it seems a coveted Blas award was proving every bit as healing as the more usual pills and potions.
List of winners