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Cork trio pick up Food Writers’ Guild awards

Wednesday, 4th March, 2020 4:37pm

The annual Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards are always a highlight on my social calendar as it is one of the few occasions where food writers from all counties are in one room.

This year’s award lunch took place yesterday in the Marker Hotel in Dublin with a superb menu created by Gareth Mullins, incorporating the winning produce. It was my first time eating tuna belly and please be assured, it won’t be the last time!

As a proud Corkwoman (blown in but nevertheless dead proud!), I am always happy to see Cork producers being recognised and I was delighted that Jeffa Gill of Durrus Cheese took the Lifetime Achievement Award this year for her outstanding contribution to the Irish Artisan Farmhouse Cheese sector. Durrus cheese is one of the original artisan farmhouse cheeses, together with Veronika Steele and the team at Gubbeen, so it was just wonderful to see her receiving the award.

Frank Hederman was the second Cork awardee with his authentic timber smokehouse produce. Cork chefs like Pam Kelly of Farmgate Café in the English Market love using Frank’s delicious produce but his reputation has grown internationally with Rick Stein being a big fan.

Last but not least, the third Cork winner is Allison Roberts of Exploding Tree in Clonakilty. I had the pleasure interviewing Allison about two years ago as I was intrigued by her creativity in becoming a waste-free chocolate business.

Being the first chocolatier who roasted her own cocoa beans, Allison took her dedication even further with all of her packaging being 100 per cent recyclable and/or compostable and their new sleeve is made from post agricultural waste and plant-based cellulose. So it is no wonder that she took the Environmental Award this year!

But let’s not forget the other – also very worthy winners – with Teelin Whiskey taking the Drinks Award. I have used Teelin whiskey when I helped creating a recipe for an Irish honey and whiskey cake. The whiskey is smooth and delicate with enough depth to make you smile.

Inch House Traditional Black Pudding took another food award home and Shine’s Seafood Wild Irish Tuna was considered so good that they also deserved special recognition.

Next to the environmental award, the Irish Food Writers’ Guild also awards special recognition to community and outstanding contributions. These two awards are always exciting as it is shows normal people doing extraordinary things.

Joyce Timmins achieved something we all thought impossible – she made hospital food nutritional and tasty. Having worked with Michelin-starred chefs and restaurants, she came to Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital and threw out the text book on hospital food. Having succeeded there, she now brings her creativity to the Marymount Care Centre in Lucan (here is hoping that every hospital in the country will have a Joyce in their kitchen).

The Community Food Awards went to Falling Fruit – the initiative organises volunteers to pick surplus fruit/produce from unused trees (after gaining permission from the owners) and distributes the harvest evenly to the owners, volunteers and charities like Food Cloud. The amount of unused fruit is evident around the countryside withering away on fields, country roads and gardens.

Thanks to Bernie Brannick, at least fruit trees in the Dublin area are now harvested and the food used to feed people.

Well-deserved congrats to all winners and it was a pleasure meeting everyone – and let’s not forget the delicious menu by Gareth Mullins at the Marker Hotel. It’s well worth a visit for delicious food. Pop over to my Facebook Page for photos on the day (warning alert – you will be drooling!).

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