Spotlight on independent, grass-roots food producers
Today, the spotlight was turned on independent, grass-roots food producers as the winners of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards 2011 were unveiled. The awards highlight the vital work of small, independent Irish food producers, at a time when supporting home-grown industry is of the utmost importance.
Guild members are, by the nature of their daily work, in constant touch with food producers, food retailers, restaurateurs, and other professional bodies throughout the country. Sixteen years ago the guild decided to promote outstanding quality, craftsmanship and innovation in the production of food in Ireland. These annual awards were the guild’s chosen vehicle and are now widely acknowledged as the country’s most prestigious food awards. The list of past award winners reads like a roll-call of some of the most famous producers, from artisan hand-craft producers and cheesemakers to giants of the industry. Many award winners have acknowledged that winning an award marked a turning point in their business.
Those awarded today for standards of excellence and for their exceptional contribution to Ireland’s reputation as a top food producing country were:
- Janet Drew for Janet’s Country Fayre Beetroot Blush (Wicklow)
- Brian and Lindy O’Hara for Coopershill House Irish Venison (Sligo)
- Pat O’Neill for O’Neill Foods’ Dry Cured Rashers, Bacon and Ham (Wexford)
- A special Environmental Award went to John Flahavan of Flahavan’s (Waterford)
- Artisan baking innovator, Derek O’Brien, was honoured with the Guild’s seldom-awarded Lifetime Achievement Award.
About the Winners
Janet Drew’s Beetroot Blush: Food Award
From art historian in the National Gallery of Ireland to artisan producer of a fine range of chutneys, relishes and sauces, Janet Drew has created something truly special with her Beetroot Blush relish.
Coopershill House Irish Venison: Food Award
They were awarded for the complex flavour and tenderness of their range of venison products.
O’Neill Foods Dry-cured bacon and hams: Food Award
Pat O’Neill produces hand-crafted, dry-cured, tender, well-flavoured bacon and ham, low in salt, with no phosphates and no added water – just pure tasty bacon.
Flahavan’s: Environmental Award
Flahavan’s is one of Ireland’s longest privately-owned, family-run businesses and has been operating in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford for over 200 years. Their excellent and extensive range of oat products is highly regarded by the guild. This year, however, we have chosen them for our Environmental award.
Derek O’Brien: Lifetime Achievement Award
Derek O’Brien is a man with a passion for good bread. If we are to single out one reason why he has won the guild’s Lifetime achievement award, it is for so successfully passing on his passion and skills.