Food writer Georgina Campbell has warned that hospitality standards are slipping at some of Ireland’s highest-rated and most expensive hotels and restaurants.
She made the remarks at yesterday’s Georgina Campbell Irish Food & Hospitality Awards, where the legacy of Ballymaloe House’s Myrtle Allen, who died last year, was remembered.
“When carrying out our independent and anonymous assessments around the country, we have encountered disappointments once again, and particularly with some 4- and 5-star hotels, where there really should be no excuses,” said Ms Campbell Ms Campbel.
“There is a worrying lack of a sense of hospitality in some cases and poor training — or indeed no apparent training at all — and it is baffling that there are still issues with standards at ‘top’ establishments every year. Hotel prices are continuing to rise too, especially in the major cities and without any corresponding rise in standards, and it is disappointing to see us losing the competitive edge that was so hard-won during the recession.”
Meanwhile, Ms Campbell described the late Ms Allen as a pioneer.
“I have been thinking a lot about the legacy of the wonderful Myrtle Allen — to whom the industry owes an enormous debt of gratitude and who were remembered fondly at today’s event — and those of her generation who have laid down the unshakable foundations of quality,” said Ms Campbell.,” she said
“Many of these great people are still active and working alongside their children and often their grandchildren, and they are the pioneers of the genuine hospitality, sustainable food sourcing and innovation that Ireland is gaining a reputation for today.”
Marlfield House Hotel, Wexford, was named Hotel of the Year at the awards ceremony in the Intercontinental Dublin., Ballsbridge, Dublin, while the accolade of Chef of the Year was awarded to Mickael Viljanen of The GreenHouse, Dublin.
Aimsir in Kildare walked away with the gong for Restaurant of the Year while Belfast-based chef/restaurant proprietor Michael Deane was named Ireland’s Hospitality Hero of the Year. The Lodge at Ashford Castle won the award for Ireland’s Pet-Friendly Destination of the Year, and Ballyvolane House was named Country House of the Year.
Other wins for the Rebel County included Perryville House (Guesthouse of the Year), and The Garden Café Truck (Street Food of the Year), while Greenes Restaurant at Hotel Isaacs was highly commended in the Atmospheric Restaurant of the Year category.
Meanwhile, Darina Allen has called on education chiefs to make cooking a compulsory subject in schools. The veteran celebrity chef and Ballymaloe Cookery School founder said she’s increasingly concerned that young people in Ireland are losing out on a vital life skill, because home economics is not mandatory from primary school level onwards.
“Home economics should be a primary subject — what other subject is as important as it? We have to eat every day,” she said.
I’ve realised a whole generation was encouraged to have a career rather than have cooking as a skill and that is a big problem with our education system. I mean, there are youngsters now who can’t make toast. We’ve turned out two generations who haven’t got the basic life skills to feed themselves properly and it’s a disaster in health and socio-economic terms.
She told In an interview with Irish Country magazine: “I want the mothers and grandmothers of Ireland to rise up and demand that practical cooking is embedded in the national school curriculum because I really feel we’re falling behind them by letting them out of school not able to feed themselves.