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Natural Born Winners at the IFWG Food Awards 2018

IFWG Award Winners 2018

Now in their 24th year, the Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards celebrate organisations and food producers who create, make and share great Irish produce and products while helping to develop Ireland’s growing international reputation in food and drink.

New to these awards this year is a Community Food Award, which highlights an organisation or individual working with food that has embraced an ethos of social responsibility to an exemplary level.

“Unprocessed, naturally sourced ingredients are the foundation upon which Ireland’s reputation for culinary excellence is built,” said Guild chairperson Aoife Carrigy at the 2018 IFWG Food Awards earlier this month. “The winning produce showcases the abundance of natural ingredients that is being cultivated from the Irish landscape. All of the award-winning products display a noticeable lack of additives and each producer uses traditional processes to preserve the integrity and the inherent flavour of the ingredients that they are working with.”

The awards were hosted at two-Michelin-star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, marked with a lunch devised and prepared by chef and co-owner Guillaume Lebrun, who incorporated the produce of each winner into a celebratory menu.

The 2018 IFWG Food Award winners are:

• Food Award: Connemara Smokehouse Smoked Mackerel, Co. Galway

Owned and run by the Roberts family since 1979, Graham Roberts and his wife Saoirse manage all aspects of the Connemara Smokehouse from its remote location on the west coast of Ireland. Selling to customers all around the world, their hot-smoked, delicately flavoured mackerel was honoured at this year’s awards. www.smokehouse.ie

• Food Award: Wildwood Balsamics range, Co. Mayo

In 2016 Mayo-based painter Fionntán Gogarty established Wildwood Balsamics to continue selling the fruit- and herb-based vinegars he has been making all his life. Fionntán now supplies more than 20 stores around the country and with 18 individual flavours and a growing range of blends, Wildwood Balsamics offer a unique and sustainable taste of Irish terroir. www.wildwoodvinegars.com

• Food Award: Baltimore Bacon, Co. Cork

A specialist plasterer turned free-range pig farmer in 2014, Nathan Wall of Baltimore Bacon now sells produce from his own pigs at weekly farmers’ markets in Bandon and Clonakilty, as well as locally reared pigs for his non-free-range bacon sold to retailers and restaurants. The range includes smoked and unsmoked bacon and ham, all of which are produced naturally, free from nitrates and additives.

• Irish Drink Award: Cockagee Pure Irish Keeved Cider, Co. Meath

Mark Jenkinson of The Cider Mill is dedicated to reviving ancient cider traditions from his organic farmhouse orchards outside Slane, Co. Meath. The only cider producer in Ireland to practise keeving, a traditional and fully natural fermentation process, he produces just 20,000 litres of Cockagee Pure Irish Keeved cider a year. www.cockagee.ie

• Organisation Award: McNally Family Farm, Co. Dublin

In the 20 years that Jenny McNally has been selling her organic farm produce at Dublin markets, she has become a local hero for many of the capital’s food lovers, including the growing number of cafés and restaurants with whom she now works. All produce grown at the McNally Family Farm is picked the day before each market, ensuring the longest possible shelf life and highest possible nutrient density. www.mcnallyfamilyfarm.com

Lough Inagh Cheese

• Environmental Award: Inagh Farmhouse Cheese (St Tola Irish Goat Cheese), Co. Clare

Producing St Tola Goat Cheese on a 60-acre family farm on the edge of the Burren, Siobhan Ni Ghairbaith and John Harrington have implemented a comprehensive sustainability programme for nearly 20 years. The couple actively promote the principles of conservation and responsible farming, helping to educate and inspire the general public. www.st-tola.ie

• Lifetime Achievement Award: Ferguson Family of Gubbeen Farmhouse, Co. Cork

From their 250-acre coastal farm just outside Schull, west Cork, the Ferguson family of Gubbeen Farmhouse have been farming and producing food since the 1980s. Each member of the family has their own area of expertise and together they are one of the finest examples Ireland has of the contribution that can be made to a national food culture by a few dedicated individuals. www.gubbeen.com

Presented with the support of Slow Food Ireland, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, the 2018 IFWG Community Food Award was presented by Hermione Winters, President of Slow Food Ireland:

• Community Food Award: Sligo Global Kitchen, Co. Sligo

Founded in 2014, Sligo Global Kitchen hosts communal meals for people living locally in direct provision and the general public. Artist Anna Spearman approached Cameroonian Mabel Chah to liaise with other residents in direct provision. The result is Sligo Global Kitchen, which is a proactive way of building links by facilitating people to celebrate each other’s food culture.

“The winners of this year’s awards give a great sense of what Ireland’s best food producers can achieve with the island’s ‘raw materials’: flavours that are sometimes bold, sometimes subtle, but always pure and natural in their expression from our fields, orchards, hedgerows, mountains and waters. The Guild is proud to champion these artisanal producers from all over the country,” said Aoife.

Note: 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.

 

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