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Mixed fortunes for Cork during awards season

Wednesday, 28th August, 2019 4:48pm

It is awards season – Food & Wine Awards were on last weekend, Bar of the Year last week and the International Cheese Awards recently have kept producers and chefs busy.

Cork didn’t do too well in the 2019 Food & Wine Awards but Longueville House were commended in the Farm & Sea to Plate section. Longueville House’s chef James Cullinane was also commended in the Rising Star of the Year section while Jane O’Callaghan, also of Longueville House, was commended in the Host of the Year section.

It was great to see Longueville House recognized for their continued ethos of farm to fork and excellent customer service.

The Best for Wine Lovers award went to The Black Pig in Kinsale (still haven’t been but on my list). Ichigo Ichie took the Best Restaurant Munster award, while Bastion in Kinsale was highly commended and Mews in Baltimore was commended. Takashi Miyasaki took Best Chef in Munster with Ahmet Dede of Mews was highly commended and Mike Tweedie of Adare Manor was commended.

In the Bar of the Year competition, it was Cork taking centre stage with Cask taking the top prize. It shows that hard work pays off as the team behind Cask goes to extreme lengths to create a great experience for their visitors. Their latest offering is brunch – and who doesn’t love a good brunch, especially when it includes some awesome cocktails?

Ireland took also a few awards away at the International Cheese Awards with Macroom Buffalo Cheese taking gold for their Buffalo Mozzarella (putting Italian cheesemakers to silver and bronze) and Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese for their Naturally Smoked Farmhouse Cheese. Cashel Blue and Crozier Blue took both gold for cow and sheep blue cheeses – leaving other blue cheeses in their wake.

Shortlists have been announced for the Irish Quality Food Awards as well as for Blas na hÉireann. These awards can lift businesses to new heights as buyers from supermarket chains and wholesalers are always looking out for new stars at these awards.

I was part of the Irish Quality Food Awards judging panel, eating my way through some amazing (and some less amazing) products. Blas na hÉireann is the oldest food awards in Ireland and has reached standards sought out by buyers from all over Ireland. It is also the awards that are the most fun as the food world of Ireland descends on Dingle on the first weekend in October.

Another upcoming award is the Pub of the Year awards with the food category in its second year. I was lucky enough to eat my way around half the country to find the best places for food.

I found some wonderful little gems where my expectations were low to begin with but had me smiling when I left. Some places where expectations were high had me cringing. Overall though, the quality of food offerings in Irish pubs has improved over the last few years – customer service is another story sometimes but that is a story for another time!

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