Wednesday 23 January 2019

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Cork Independent

Bia Sasta

Local produce still deserves and needs to be championed

Wednesday, 14th November, 2018 4:55pm

As most people know, I champion local and Irish produce in general over imported foods.

I always assumed that most restaurants do the same (I am not talking about chain restaurants and cafes), so I was naturally surprised when a Dublin restaurant announced that it now sources over 90 per cent of ingredients from Ireland – a year after it opened.

On the other hand, I overheard a conversation where two friends talked about a restaurant in Cork and while discussing the food, one said ‘they use only local produce blah blah blah’. The gentleman in question was growing tired of the same old line by chefs announcing that they are using local produce.

Later I was thinking about the two statements regarding the restaurant in Dublin and the one in Cork and it appeared to me that we all should simply assume that chefs are using local produce whenever possible and that it should be a given and not a marketing ploy.

Peter Ward of Country Choice in Nenagh once said that we are overusing the word local and that it might have lost its appeal. Peter is one of the pioneers of supporting Irish artisan producers and his shop in Nenagh is a treasure chest for food lovers, similar to Bradley’s on North Main Street in Cork. But he is shying away now from marketing his products as local – although most of his produce is.

Mairead and Richard Jacobs of Idaho have been using Irish produce before it became cool and their relationship with their suppliers is second to none. Pamela Kelly of Dial a Chef has everyone in the food scene on speed dial and Kevin Ahern in Midleton (Sage) goes as far as to sourcing his produce from a 12 mile radius.

So, the question is, do we still need to be reminded that restaurants and cafes use local produce?

I think so, simply because so many places still use imported foods to reduce costs and in order to offer cheap menus – in case you ever wondered how some restaurants can afford to offer a three-course meal for €19.

There is a huge market for the cheap and cheerful places and Cork is full of them, so I am happy to still have the choice of supporting chefs who are championing local producers.

On another note, my inaugural cookery demo at the Wooden Spoons Cookery School near Blarney was a great success and guests had a great time.

I was also persuaded by Siobhan to give a kid’s workshop – my first ever. We made toffee popcorn, jelly, clusters, chocolate coins and more chocolate treats. I survived and so did the kids (thankfully). We have more classes coming up, so check out Wooden Spoons Cookery School.

Last but not least – I am organizing the Blarney Christmas Craft Fair again. Now in its third year, the fair takes place on Sunday 25 November from 11am-5pm in the Blarney Golf Resort & Hotel. We have a great selection of crafters and artists – hope you can make it.

 

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