Irish Food Writers’ Guild calls for more support for indigenous Irish food producers as threat of Brexit looms
Eight food producers from the four corners of Ireland singled out for the 2019 Food Awards
“With the food industry gearing up for the impact of Brexit and with the threat of UK tariffs a real possibility, it is incumbent on us all, government, industry and consumers, to protect and support our abundance of incredible food producers, who have played a significant role in helping position Ireland as a food tourism destination,” said Kristin Jensen, chairperson of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG), who was speaking at today’s annual IFWG Food Awards.
Now in their 25th year, the IFWG Food Awards celebrate indigenous food producers and organisations, north and south of the border, who help to maintain Ireland’s outstanding reputation in food and drink. This year, three producers from Northern Ireland have been selected for an award, demonstrating the all-island approach that, as a nation, we take to food production, supply and quality standards.
This year’s winners include cheesemakers from both sides of the border; organic spelt berries from a farm in Louth; a rare apple ice wine made in Cork; a well-known Dublin coffee brand; a goat farm in Antrim; and one of Ireland’s best-known butchers and food champions who was born in Kildare and operates from Co. Down. The Guild also presented its Community Food Award to one of Cork’s oldest charitable organisations.
“Each year, the IFWG singles out a select number of products and organisations that evoke pride in our national food identity and contribute to our rich and diverse food culture. Many of these are small businesses and, together with everyone in the food industry, they have major concerns over what is coming down the track following Brexit later this month. Therefore, we urge all sectors of society to embrace sourcing, buying and eating local, high-quality produce and ensuring that all our wonderful producers survive and continue to thrive as they face into a period of great uncertainty. We believe we owe it to them and to ourselves as a great food nation, to continue flying the flag for the fantastic range of Irish produce that is available on our own doorstep,” said Kristin Jensen.
“Today we are honouring eight outstanding winners who represent so much that is great about the food and drink industry in Ireland. They have created sustainable businesses, have continuously looked to innovate and have been singled out because of the outstanding quality of their produce and dedication to Irish food.”
The winners of the 2019 IFWG Food Awards are:
Food Award: Hegarty Cheese for Teampall Gael Cheese (Co. Cork)
The Hegarty family are fifth-generation dairy farmers in North Cork. In 2000 they began experimenting with cheese-making and since 2001 have used only the milk produced by their own Friesian cows, making their cheese fully traceable from the field to the finished product. In 2015 they started producing a new cheese, Teampall Gael, which is matured for at least nine months and is made in 40kg wheels that have to be brushed and turned three times a week, resulting in a Comté-style raw milk cheese that has a sweet, delicate, nutty flavour. @HegartyCheese
Food Award: Mike Thomson for Young Buck Cheese (Co. Down)
Mike Thomson raised £80,000 through crowdfunding to start making Young Buck, Northern Ireland’s first raw-milk blue cheese. The milk for the cheese is sourced from a small farm 10 miles from Mike’s home in Co. Down. Six hundred litres of milk are collected daily to create just 27 wheels of Young Buck a week. Young Buck is a Stilton-style cheese, with a strong, salty flavour and a characteristic knobbly crust, that features on the menus of several Michelin-starred restaurants. www.mfcheese.com
Food Award: Dunany Flour for Organic Spelt Berries (Co. Louth)
The Workman family’s Dunany Farm is a traditional fourth-generation enterprise, producing organic grains since 2006. Best known for their flours, the Workmans are innovative and experimental and recognised a gap in the market for growing spelt in Ireland. High in fibre and B vitamins and low in gluten, Dunany organic spelt berries are a unique and versatile Irish-grown wholegrain and a great alternative to imported grains. www.dunanyflour.com
Irish Drink Award: Killahora Orchards for Rare Apple Ice Wine (Co. Cork)
Killahora Orchards is a family business founded on an estate dating back to 1837, where more than 130 varieties of apple and 40 perry pear varieties are grown. Always pushing the boundaries of what can be made with Irish fruit, the range includes craft cider, apple port, perry and their premier drink, for which they are being awarded, Rare Apple Ice Wine. It is made by slowly freezing apples and then thawing the pressed apple juice to create a richer must than you would get from regular pressing. It is then partially fermented to keep the natural sugars intact. It is recommended as a dessert wine but works equally well with pork and cheeses. www.killahoraorchards.ie
Outstanding Organisation Award: 3fe (Co. Dublin)
Colin Harmon quit a career in finance in 2008 to devote himself to coffee. By 2009 he had won the Irish Barista Championships, placed 4th in the World Barista Championships and opened 3fe in the lobby of the Twisted Pepper nightclub in Dublin. He now supplies to more than 50 businesses and runs three cafés, a restaurant and roastery facility. 3fe is being awarded for the company’s commitment to sustainability in the areas of purchasing principles, waste and energy use, staff welfare and community. www.3fe.com
Environmental Award: Broughgammon Farm (Co. Antrim)
The Broughgammon Farm rears male goats that would have otherwise been put down at birth to product delicious and healthy cabrito kid goat meat. The farm believes in a sustainable, local food chain and as such encourages back-to-basics, nose-to-tail, fork-to-field and seasonal eating. They now rear free-range rosé veal and seasonal wild game as well. Their Environmental Award is in recognition of their exceptional commitment to the environment, which goes above and beyond their ethical farming practices. www.broughgammon.com
Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Hannan (Co. Down)
Peter Hannan grew up on a beef and sheep farm in Co. Kildare and founded Hannan Meats in 1991. Hannan Meats still serves its first five clients as well as some of the finest establishments in the UK, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. Provenance is one of the guiding principles of Peter’s business, and he works closely with a network of almost 150 of the best beef farmers in Northern Ireland and the Republic to produce the highest-quality meat. The Irish Food Writers’ Guild is proud to present Peter with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his continued work as one of Ireland’s most dedicated and highly-respected food champions.
Community Food Award: Cork Penny Dinners (Co. Cork)
Cork Penny Dinners was founded during famine times in the 1840s and is one of Cork’s oldest charitable organisations. Their core service is to offer a nourishing hot meal in a safe environment to all those in need. Currently they serve up to 2,000 freshly made meals each week. The charity will soon have the opportunity to expand its services as it plans to move to James Street to offer educational opportunities; a full music programme; a clinic operated on a rotating, voluntary basis by 52 local GPs; classes in sewing, cooking and repair; and assistance in everyday administrative tasks. www.corkpennydinners.ie
The Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards were hosted at Glovers Alley, with a lunch devised and prepared by executive chef Andy McFadden, who incorporated the produce of each winner into a celebratory menu.
The IFWG Food Awards are unique, as no one can enter themselves or their product into the awards and no company knows it has been nominated or shortlisted for an award. The Guild is the sole nominating and decision-making body. The exception to this is the Community Food Award, for which the Guild invites nominations every year from the general public as well as their own members.
The IFWG paid tribute at the awards to Bord Bia for its support of the awards and its tireless work on the home and export markets to promote and develop the Irish food industry.
Lunch menu devised by Andy McFadden of Glovers Alley and incorporating the 2019 award-winning produce. Paired with wines kindly sponsored by Liberty Wines:
About the Winners
Hegarty Cheese for Teampall Gael Cheese: Food Award
The Hegarty family are fifth-generation dairy farmers in Whitechurch, North Cork, but to make the family farm viable for the next generation they needed to find a way of increasing the farm income to support two families. In 2000 they began experimenting with cheese and yogurt and marketed both for a few years before eventually concentrating their efforts on producing a traditional clothbound Cheddar.
Since 2001, they have used only the milk produced by their own Friesian cows, making their cheese fully traceable from the field to the finished product. In 2015 they decided it was time to bring a new cheese to the market. Jean-Baptiste Enjelvin from France joined the team and after three years they are now producing the newest addition to their range, Teampall Gael, which is what the Irish Food Writers’ Guild is awarding. It can be produced only where there is complete control over what the cows eat because no silage can be fed to the cows when producing this cheese. The cheese is matured for at least nine months and is made in 40kg wheels that have to be brushed and turned three times a week, resulting in a Comté-style raw milk cheese has a sweet, delicate, nutty flavour.
Mike Thomson for Young Buck Cheese: Food Award
Mike Thomson realised there was a gap in the market for a locally produced cheese while he was working at the Arcadia Deli in Belfast. Customers came in asking for them, but he could only offer them cheeses from the Republic or England. After studying at the School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire for a year, he moved back to Northern Ireland and raised £80,000 through crowdfunding to start making Young Buck, Northern Ireland’s first raw milk cheese.
Trading as Mike’s Fancy Cheese, he works out of Newtownards, buying unpasteurised milk from a single herd of Co. Down Holstein-Friesian cows. In another first, in 2018 Mike opened Belfast’s first specialist cheese shop, with a focus on showcasing Irish raw milk cheese. In addition to being available in his own shop, Young Buck is sold across Ireland, the UK and throughout Europe, including Berlin, Antwerp and Marseille. It also features on the menus of several Michelin-starred restaurants. Young Buck is a Stilton-style cheese with a strong, salty flavour and a characteristic knobbly crust. When fully mature it is rich, creamy and rounded, but with a long, lingering finish and just a touch of Northern Ireland.
Click here to view recipe with winners' products
Dunany Flour for Organic Spelt Berries: Food Award
The Workman family’s Dunany Farm is a traditional fourth-generation enterprise, producing organic grains since 2006. All their grains are grown, dried, milled and packaged on the farm in Dunany, Co. Louth, on the unspoiled east coast.
While perhaps best known for their flours, the Irish Food Writers’ Guild is awarding their organic spelt berries. The Workmans are always innovative and experimental, yet growing old and traditional varieties of wheat is of particular interest to them. After visiting farms and mills in parts of Europe where spelt is grown extensively, the Workmans recognised a gap in the market for growing spelt in Ireland and invested in the machinery required to process the grains in 2010.
This hardy plant grows well in the Irish climate, but it’s very difficult to thresh the seed from the husk and requires specific de-hulling and cleaning machines that prepare the grains to a millable quality for both flour and the berries. Andrew and their son, Matthew, spend a large part of the post-harvest months working in the mill, cleaning, gravity separating and de-hulling to get ready for the year ahead.
High in fibre and B vitamins, low in gluten and rich in essential fatty acids and amino acids, the Dunany organic spelt berries are an interesting, versatile and nutritious Irish-grown wholegrain that makes a great alternative to imported grains.
Killahora Orchards for Rare Apple Ice Wine: Irish Drink Award
Killahora Orchards is a family business founded on an estate dating back to 1837, where they now grow over 130 varieties of apple and over 40 perry pear varieties. Using their combined interests in horticulture, fermentation and flavour and mixing traditional artisanal production with new techniques, they set out to push the boundaries of what can be made with Irish fruit. Their range includes a craft cider, apple port, perry and their premier drink, Killahora Orchards Rare Apple Ice Wine, which is what the Irish Food Writers’ Guild is awarding today.
It is made similar to the way ice wine is made in Canada with grapes, by slowly freezing and then thawing pressed apple juice to create a much richer must than you would get from a regular pressing. This is then partially fermented to keep the natural apple sugars intact, providing a balance between the 11% alcohol level, the fresh, bright acidity and a delicate, pure sweetness. It starts with an aroma of candyfloss and summer fruits, with toffee apple flavours before the green apple acidity comes through. This carries through to the emergence of soft, subtly dry tannins as the freshness of the apple and hints of caramel fade into the background.
The producers recommend serving it as a dessert wine, but thanks to its acidity it can also pair well with pork and cheeses.
3fe: Outstanding Organisation Award
In 2008, Colin Harmon quit his lucrative career in finance to devote himself to coffee. By December 2009 he had won the Irish Barista Championships, placed 4th in the World Barista Championships and opened 3fe (Third Floor Espresso) in the lobby of the Twisted Pepper Nightclub. After building the business cup by cup, Colin opened his first standalone café on Lower Grand Canal Street in Dublin 2 in 2011, where in addition to their ground floor shop and first floor training room they also run tasting courses, brew classes, corporate events and coffee consultancy.
In 2014 they began roasting their own coffee in a brand new roastery that now sends coffee all over the country. Today they have two more cafés and an all-day restaurant, Gertrude. What most impressed the Irish Food Writers’ Guild about 3fe is not only the fact that the 3fe brand has become synonymous with the best-quality coffee in Ireland, but also the company’s commitment to sustainability in the areas of waste and energy use, purchasing principles, staff welfare and community.
They have started a company-wide CSR project on engaging in the circular economy, whether that’s through inventive solutions to food waste at the cafés, finding new uses for industrial waste at the roastery or building long-term relationships with the farmers, exporters and importers they work with. They are also holding themselves accountable on their journey towards sustainability via weekly updates on their blog.
Broughgammon Farm: Environmental Award
At Broughgammon Farm, Charlie and Becky Cole counteract the wasteful practice of putting down male kid goats born to the dairy industry by rearing those males for kid goat meat. They now rear free-range rosé veal and seasonal wild game as well.
The Irish Food Writers’ Guild is recognising the farm for their exceptional commitment to the environment, which goes above and beyond their ethical farming practices. The farm also has an eco-farmhouse, on-site butchery facility and farm shop that use solar thermal heating, low-flow appliances and photovoltaic solar panels. The farmhouse uses an air-source heat pump, a mechanical-ventilation with heat recovery system, wind energy, a wood pellet boiler and rainwater harvesting tanks that supply all non-potable water.
While members of the Countryside Management Scheme between 2006 and 2015, the Coles preserved species-rich grassland to encourage nesting birds and wildflowers and planted many hedgerows to act as wildlife corridors between tree plantings. They are constantly re-evaluating their environmental impact and looking ahead, with plans to incorporate rainwater harvesting on the livestock housing and a natural water treatment plant for the butchery and farm shop.
Broughgammon Farm believes in a sustainable, local food chain and as such encourages back-to-basics, nose-to-tail, fork-to-field and seasonal eating, which it encourages through its range of classes and artisan produce.
Peter Hannan: Lifetime Achievement Award
Peter Hannan grew up on a beef and sheep farm in Co. Kildare and founded Hannan Meats in 1991. They still serve their first five clients as well as some of the finest establishments in the UK, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.
Coming from a farming family, it’s no surprise that provenance is one of the guiding principles of Peter’s business, which is why he works closely with a network of nearly 150 of the best beef farmers in Northern Ireland and the Republic to produce the highest-quality meat.
Hannan Meats is also a 50% stakeholder in the renowned Glenarm Shorthorn Beef scheme. All of Hannan Meat’s beef is dry-aged in their four Himalayan salt chambers, which have a combined capacity of 6,000 primal cuts. The chambers are made of over 8,000 hand-cut Himalayan rock salt bricks that were imported from Pakistan’s Punjab region to Peter’s facility in Moira, Co. Down. The beef is aged in the chambers for an average of 35 to 45 days, though they also provide an ‘extra aged’ product for clients that ranges from 80 to 100 days. This ageing process concentrates the flavour of the meat and seals in the natural juices, producing unique, flavoursome, award-winning beef.
Hannan Meats has won 230 Great Taste Award stars, with five Golden Forks, 15 Top 50 Foods awards and two Supreme Champion awards, making Hannan Meats the first producer in the history of the Great Taste Awards to take the top prize for a second time. They have also been awarded gold five times in the World Steak Challenge and have won the Gold Award in every steak category in the Blas na hÉireann awards. Last year Peter also won the BBC Food and Farming Awards Derek Cooper Outstanding Achievement Award.
Today the Irish Food Writers’ Guild is proud to present Peter with our Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his continued work as one of Ireland’s most dedicated and highly respected food champions.
Links of Interest
Not the full Irish - Katy McGuinness explores the true origins of 'Irish' foods.
The Irish Food Writers’ Guild is grateful to the Herbert Park Hotel for their ongoing generosity in hosting our regular meetings in their excellent facilities.
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