Food champions for Ireland

Fáilte Ireland this morning has announced the names of the eight new food tourism ambassadors that have been selected to represent Ireland and join its Food Tourism Network Development programme.

The focus for the initiative in 2013 is on individuals located along the Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland’s first long-distance touring route, stretching along the coast from Donegal to West Cork.

The 2013 Food Champions are:

• Hugh O’Donnell, Kitty Kellys & Hughies Bar, Killybegs

• Deborah Evers, Clareville House Kitchen Gardens, Ballyvaughan

• Jacinta Dalton, Department of Culinary Arts, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

• Martin Bealin, Global Village Restaurant, Dingle

• Mary McGettigan, A Taste of Donegal Food Festival, Donegal Town

• Benoit Lorge, Lorge Chocolatier, Kenmare

• Zack Gallagher, Irish Food Tours, Donegal Town

• Ross Quinn, Vasco Restaurant, Fanore

Speaking today, Helen McDaid Fáilte Ireland’s Food Tourism Manager said: “We received nominations for many able ‘would-be ambassadors’ from along the Wild Atlantic Way route – many thanks to both the nominees and nominators for the interest that they have shown. Our focus continues to be on ‘emerging’ food champions who have been working hard in their regions and can now become a part of this network which will support and guide them as they continue to develop food tourism experiences.

“Last year’s programme was a great success with many of the champions going on to do great work for food tourism in their areas.  The focus this year is on our new project the Wild Atlantic Way and how we can further develop the visitor experience by promoting our local and regional food experiences.”

As they embark on their role as Fáilte Ireland Food Champions, the group will now travel on a food tourism benchmarking trip to Norway to see first-hand a real-life linkage between a driving route and food tourism – this trip will provide great insight and learning opportunities for our industry here in Ireland.

The group will have the opportunity to meet with the people behind a range of food businesses in Norway who are utilising food tourism as part of their development and business generation strategy.

Looking further ahead, Ms McDaid commented: “Once the group returns home the focus will be on working together with their local communities to help build Ireland’s food tourism reputation and encourage visitors to stop, spend and stay longer on the Wild Atlantic Way.

“Working together and developing networks and relationships within their localities will help to develop engaging food experiences to truly utilise food tourism as a workable economic development strategy.”

Image Wild Atlantic Way courtesy Failte Ireland