Tradition a cornerstone of Ireland’s reputation for great food says Irish Food Writers’ Guild as bread, cheese and lamb singled out for 2022 awards
Top food awards presented to inspirational women as the world marks International Women’s Day
Galway scoops three awards in Irish Food Writers’ Guild annual awards
“The pandemic changed the very nature of consumer behaviour and in turn, forced Ireland’s food producers to change the way in which they operated. 24 months since we first heard the term COVID-19 we are today celebrating the artisan producers and food businesses that stepped up to the plate, continued to serve communities and dug deep during the pandemic, despite all obstacles. We are recognising those who kept moving, got creative, started new ventures and found new ways of reaching their customers,” said Caroline Hennessy, Chair of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG), who today announced the winners of the 2022 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards.
Ireland is blessed with a thriving culinary community and the standard of the country’s artisan food produce is world-class but, as noted by the IFWG, there is one standout quality that links the 2022 winners – tradition.
“Many of our 2022 winners are traditional products, but with a twist. From fishmonger to baker, cheese maker to the Galway duo who have played with the traditional Irish love of tea, innovative producers are putting their own stamp on things, creating something unique and something quite delicious,” said Caroline Hennessy.
“I believe there has never been a greater appreciation for Ireland’s food producers and the wider food community for what they have achieved over the past two years. Amid lockdowns and restrictions, so many of these businesses and producers managed to adapt to soaring demand for click and collect services, online shopping deliveries, food boxes and food trucks. In many ways, our artisan food community are heroes, bringing not just nourishment and sustenance but comfort and even joy to what was otherwise a very difficult period for so many people.
“Passion, hard work and a can-do attitude are core values that the winners of the 2022 IFWG Food Awards have in abundance and today, the IFWG is recognising the vibrancy and resilience of the Irish food industry with the presentation of eight awards. It’s particularly fitting, as we mark International Women’s Day that five awards were presented to some of the food industry’s most inspirational women.”
The winners of the 2022 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards are:
- Food Award: Bread 41, Dublin
- Food Award: Calvey’s Achill Mountain Lamb, Mayo
- Food Award: Coolfin cheese, Galway
- Irish Drink Award: All About Kombucha, Galway
- Notable contribution to Irish Food Award: Stefan Griesbach of Gannet Fishmongers, Galway
- Environmental Award: Rock Farm Slane, Meath
- Community Food Award: Our Table, Dublin
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Sally Ferns Barnes, Cork
Since 1993, the IFWG Food Awards have celebrated local producers and food heroes who have nourished and brought pleasure to the lives and tables of so many.
“Today we are honouring eight outstanding winners who represent what is great about the food and drink industry in 21st century Ireland. From embracing sustainability and innovation to keeping age-old traditions alive, each recipient has been singled out because they can inspire us to think outside the box, do more and do it better,” said Caroline Hennessy.
Una Fitzgibbon, Director of Marketing and Communications at Bord Bia, said: “The Food Writers’ Guild has once again chosen an impressive line-up of winners, representing a variety of sectors, for this year’s awards. The winners really encapsulate the artistry, diversity, and integrity of Irish food production and gastronomy. We are fortunate to have a rich and evolving food culture in Ireland and these awards play an important role in celebrating the people who drive this thriving industry, locally and nationally. Congratulations to all those involved in making these awards happen and, of course, to the deserving winners.”
Interviews with the winners, citations and recipes have been lovingly catalogued in the 2022 IFWG Food Awards e-zine, which you can check out here.
About the Winners
Bread 41, Dublin: Food Award
After initially training and working as a carpenter, Eoin Cluskey completed the Ballymaloe 12-week cookery course, then founded Bread 41 in 2018. In just a few short years the Dublin 2 bakery has become one of the city’s best-known and well-loved artisan companies. At the bakery, each perfectly unique loaf is sustainably made, with Cluskey committed to running a zero-waste, carbon neutral company.
Calvey’s Achill Mountain Lamb, Mayo: Food Award
The Calveys have been sheep farmers on Achill Island for over a century and a half. An on-site abattoir means their lambs do not have the stress of travelling to a slaughterhouse but remain on their own territory and in the care of familiar people to the end. The same hands-on care applies to the butchery and the wonderful meats sold at the family’s recently upgraded and relaunched farm shop at Keel.
Coolfin cheese, Galway: Food Award
Coolfin cheese is an Alpine-style hard cheese made in the foothills of the Slieve Aughty mountains in East Galway by Teresa Roche. The cheese is handmade on the family farm using only summer milk, is fully traceable and has a low carbon footprint. It takes up to ten months to mature and has a deliciously smooth texture with distinctively sweet, creamy and nutty flavours and a lingering aftertaste
All About Kombucha, Galway: Irish Drink Award
Established in 2017 by Emmett Kerrigan and Keith Loftus, two young entrepreneurs from Galway, All About Kombucha brews freshly fermented sparkling tea from organic ingredients. Each bottle of All About Kombucha is hand-brewed from the organic ingredients of tea, sugar and water. The drink is currently available in three core flavours: raspberry, ginger & lemon and carrot & turmeric, which can be found in over 250 stockists across the country and also purchased online.
Stefan Griesbach of Gannet Fishmongers, Galway: Notable contribution to Irish Food Award
Stefan Griesbach came to Ireland in 1997, having worked in fish shops in Paris, and started his business with a single stall outside Sheridan’s in Galway. Since then, this stall has evolved into Gannet Fishmongers, known for sourcing the very best quality of locally caught fish. Through its online store, Gannet Fishmongers deliver the freshest of Irish fish nationwide; shoppers see what came in from the boats, place their order and receive it soon after, cold-packed and spanking fresh.
Click here to view recipe from the winner.
Rock Farm Slane, Meath: Environmental Award
Owned by the Conyngham family, Rock Farm Slane is an intertwined organic farm and ecotourism business underpinned by sustainable and environmentally-conscious practices. Organic cattle, pigs, hens, turkeys and vegetables are all produced on the 90-acre farm, which is run according to permaculture principles. This is complemented by luxury eco-glamping, which offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the food, landscape and culture of the Boyne Valley region.
Click here to view recipe from the winners.
Our Table, Dublin: Community Food Award
Malawian Ellie Kisyombe, a former asylum seeker, met café owner and food writer Michelle Darmody while doing volunteer work in the Irish Refugee Council. Together they set up Our Table, a community-based, social enterprise that uses food as a way to connect, start a conversation and draw attention to the realities of those living in Direct Provision. Our Table started out hosting pop-up and catering events aimed at generating awareness about conditions within the Direct Provision system, while also providing immigrants with employment.
During the pandemic, the team focused on getting as much good, wholesome food as possible to those living in emergency accommodation and Direct Provision Centres. Plans for the future include setting up a new Our Table kitchen that will be used for their many projects and ongoing training, cooking and mentoring.
Click here to view recipe from the winner.
Sally Ferns Barnes, Cork: Lifetime Achievement Award
Since 1979 Sally Ferns Barnes has been perfecting the art of smoking wild Irish fish at West Cork’s Woodcock Smokery. Over the last 40 years, Sally has acquired great knowledge on everything that links the ocean and its bounty, smoke curing, and working with nature and natural processes. The Keep, established adjacent to the smokery in 2020, is where that knowledge is shared through masterclasses in the art of curing and smoking wild fish. Sally is the last person in Ireland that exclusively handles wild fish and is a keystone in the age-old traditions of our Irish food culture.
Click here to view recipe using the winner’s products.
About the Irish Food Writers’ Food Awards
The IFWG Food Awards are unique. No business or individual can enter, nor do they know if they have been nominated or shortlisted for an award. With the exception of the Community Food Award, for which the Guild invites nominations, the Guild is the sole nominating and decision-making body whose members nominate and anonymously buy products for tasting. Proportional representation voting is then undertaken at a Guild tasting meeting. Winning products must be produced in Ireland and the main ingredient must be Irish grown or produced.