2016 Award Winners NATURAL FOOD AWARD 2016

Declan Ryan's Arbutus Bread, Cork

Declan Ryan's Arbutus Bread, Cork

The Guide has always championed the best of Irish produce. It’s the philosophy behind our food recommendations and the Natural Food Award has emphasised this for many years, by celebrating particular establishments that create a meeting point between the best and freshest local produce and the consumer. The original aim was to recognise specifically “an individual or team, driven by a total commitment to using the very best of fresh, seasonal and mainly local foods – and preparing them simply and with style, to showcase their natural goodness and the quality produce of the locality”. It now also includes food products, producers and retailers as well, along the lines of our entries in Ireland for Food Lovers, which remains Ireland’s only regional food tourism guide.

Wouldn’t you think that after selling a famous hotel - having had the distinction of being Ireland’s first Michelin-starred chef, among many other highlights - that you might be entitled to settle down to a quiet life, maybe enjoying the other side of the hospitality business?

Not so the intrepid Declan Ryan who - knowing fine well that ‘retirement wouldn’t suit him’, and being a man of vision - set off to France to hone his already considerable baking skills, instead.

Thus, on 1st January 1999 the now-famous Arbutus Bread artisan bakery was established, laying the foundation for our current love affair with continental style baking.

Although home bread making was still more common here than in the UK at that time, it was very much in the soda tradition; baking with yeast was seen as ‘difficult’ and sourdough didn’t really get a look in at all until Arbutus Bread came along and introduced us to the different flavours and textures of the continental loaves.

Starting up the new business gave him a huge buzz and it obviously still does today - and what began as a tiny enterprise (in his garage!) now produces 2,000 delicious loaves every night, still made by traditional methods and using only natural, additive-free ingredients.

Look out for Declan and his wife, Patsy, at the Cork area farmers’ markets - and do stop for a chat.


10 votes

Arbutus Breads

Cork City, Co. Cork
Baking/Bakery / Classes/Courses
Denotes genuine Irish food culture, ie special Irish food products/companies/producers, and highlights the best places to shop for regional and artisan foods; the selection excludes obvious 'non-Irish' elements regardless of quality, eg ethnic restaurants and specialists in coffee, wine and other drinks, unless relevant to local production or history. Eat & Stay establishments are chosen for their commitment to showcasing local produce and Irish hospitality. Previous Georgina Campbell Guides Award Winner
When Declan Ryan sold the legendary Arbutus Lodge Hotel in Cork city in 1999, it was obvious that retirement would not suit him. So, inspired by breads he had enjoyed in America and France, Declan set about learning the art of sourdough baking from som ...

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