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Food heroes of the past year

Wednesday, 18th December, 2019 5:30pm

As the year comes to an end (can you believe how quick these past 12 months just went by?), I want to look back and remember my food heroes. Some of them make the list every year as they consistently impress me with their ethos and actions while others deserve a mention due to their growth over the past 12 months (please keep in mind that this is an opinion piece and you might not agree!)

Mairead and Richard Jacobs of Idaho – for many years, this power couple is working away quietly in their eatery tucked away behind Brown Thomas. There’s service with a smile from Richard and their amazing staff coupled with good honest food from Mairead. Trends have been ignored, local produce always championed and they have the best music selections in the city!

Tim Mulcahy – keeping up the third generation at the Chicken Inn in the English Market and growing the business sustainably. Tim supplies food service and restaurants and has created one of the best chicken stocks you will find. And this came around as a waste product when steaming his chickens. Nothing goes to waste at the Chicken Inn. Tim also happens to be a great guy.

Patrick Mulcahy – if you have ever tried Ballinwillin Wild Boar Sausages, you will understand why Patrick is on this list. But he and his wonderful wife Miriam also raise venison that is sought after by many chefs. Keep an eye out for one of his dining experiences – you need to be quick to get tickets.

Shane Murphy and Judy Wilkins – brewer and manager of the Rising Sons Brewery, their combined knowledge of craft beer is astonishing, coupled with a great sense of humour and hard work ethic, these are two of my favourite people. They also happen to be very supportive of my many ideas, plans and projects (if you know me, you’d know that most people would run a mile when I start a sentence with ‘I was thinking’).

Dorothy O’Tuama – have you ever been to Macroom Buffalo Farm? If so, you will have encountered Dorothy and she would need no further introduction. But if you haven’t, check out the tours she is running at the farm. You will learn everything (and more) about buffalo farming (she knows the names of most of her buffalos) and she will infect you with her enthusiasm and you’ll never eat mozzarella made from cow’s milk again!

Avril Allshire-Howe – this one-woman fountain of energy has been on this list for years, simply because she does not sit on her laurels for producing one of the best black puddings in this country but strives to get better (not bigger). Her tag line ‘made by a family – not by a factory’ is one of my favourites. Her two sons have joined the company and bring with them new ideas. I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for Rosscarbery Black Pudding.

Pam Kelly – now head chef at the Farmgate in the English market, is not only a personal friend but also one of the best chefs I know. The Farmgate is a perfect match for her style of cooking – bold flavours, excellent produce and love for local producers. Pam is one of a list of chefs I love to work with – they include Kate Lawlor-Lyne (formerly of Fenn’s Quay, now on maternity leave), Francesca Jara (formerly of L’Atitude, now on maternity leave), Stuart Dardis of Metropole Hotel and so many more – too many to mention them all in this column.

Wishing all readers and friends of this column a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

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