The Irish food industry needs to be prepared for Brexit, an awards ceremony honouring the best produce on offer north and south of the border has heard.
The winners of 25th Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards were revealed at a ceremony in Dublin’s Glovers Alley restaurant. Cork led the way, collecting three of the eight honours presented, while producers in Antrim, Down, Dublin, and Louth were also awarded.
Caitríona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners was presented with the Community Food Award in recognition of their charitable work. Other honours were presented to Cork cheesemaker Dan Hegarty for Templegall cheese as well as Mike Thomson from Co Down for Young Buck Cheese.
Barry Walsh and Kate Watson of Killahora Orchards in Cork were presented with the Irish Drink Award for their Rare Apple Ice Wine.
Awards were also handed out to Andrew and Leonie Workman in Louth for Dunany Organic Spelt Berries, Colin Harmon of Dublin’s 3fe Coffee (Outstanding Organisation Award), and Charlie Cole collected the Environmental Award on behalf of Broughgammon Farm in Co Antrim.
Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats in Co Down was presented with a lifetime achievement award.
Organisers said the geographical spread of the awards demonstrates “the all-island approach that, as a nation, we take to food production, supply, and quality standards”.
"With the food industry gearing up for the impact of Brexit, and with the threat of UK tariffs a real possibility, it is incumbent on us all, Government, industry and consumers, to protect and support our abundance of incredible food producers, who have played a significant role in helping position Ireland as a food tourism destination,” chairperson of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, Kristin Jensen, said.
“Each year, the IFWG singles out a select number of products and organisations that evoke pride in our national food identity and contribute to our rich and diverse food culture.
“Many of these are small businesses and, together with everyone in the food industry, they have major concerns over what is coming down the track following Brexit later this month,” Ms Jensen said.
“Therefore, we urge all sectors of society to embrace sourcing, buying and eating local, high-quality produce, and ensuring that all our wonderful producers survive and continue to thrive as they face into a period of great uncertainty.
“We believe we owe it to them and to ourselves as a great food nation, to continue flying the flag for the fantastic range of Irish produce that is available on our own doorstep,” she said.
IFWG said no company knows that it has been nominated or shortlisted for an honour, as the Guild alone nominates those shortlisted and chosen as award winners, and that none of the producers can enter themselves or their product for consideration.
The exception to this is the Community Food Award, for which the Guild invites nominations every year from the public as well as their own members.