Raise a glass to this year’s food heroes! Photo: Matthieu Joannon

Join me and raise a glass to the dreamers!

Another weird year is coming to an end – normally around this time of year, I look back and choose my food heroes.

I haven’t been out much over the last 12 months, so I didn’t engage much either other than with the usual suspects.

A huge shoutout must go to Neighbour Food who have given small food producers the opportunity to sell their wares in different markets when the restaurant trade had to close. Cheese, meat and poultry producers depend on the food trade in restaurants and Neighbour Food saved some of them from closing their operations down.

So, thank you to Jack Crotty and Simone Kelly for starting this initiative a few years ago. Check out neighbourfood.ie to see where your nearest depot is.

Another thank you is to people like Mairead and Richard Jacob of Idaho Café and Judy Wilkens of Rising Sons Brewery who have always spread positivity despite the challenges they faced. It made for a great change to the doom and gloom.

Although they had – like so many others – reasons to be upset (and I am sure they were), their messages were always filled with love for their chosen industry and its people.

It has been sad seeing longstanding businesses close – mostly cafés and pubs in rural areas and small communities but how heart-warming was it also to see new ventures opening up.

We suddenly became a nation of food truck destinations with delicious food offerings other than the greasy burger.

We have discovered delicious fish’n’ chips in Kinsale, spicy burritos in Ballincollig and tasty lunch in Rosscarbery.

We salute the people who didn’t let a pandemic stop them from pursuing their ambitions to create and serve excellent food.

Many new places have opened also in Cork city and I have plans in the new year to visit them all. You might think ‘who in their right mind opens a business during a pandemic’? The dreamers and doers – that’s who.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who are actually doing it” - Steve Jobs.

This year – just like last year – Christmas will be a quiet affair. I’m not even sure if I am even cooking a turkey as we have a vegetarian staying with us at the moment but we will still make the dinner special.

I will start the day with a glass of champagne and Mr T will run the Goal mile with his grandson while I start prep work for the most important meal of the year.

The afternoon will be spend in front of the fire, snoozing off before we attack the leftovers. We call that a perfect Christmas Day. But let’s raise a glass to the dreamers and doers who never give up and who make life so much easier during a pandemic!