Wexford breakfast event focuses on ‘taste of place’

#TasteWexford, a tourism focused brand that connects locals and tourists with authentic food and drink experiences around the cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East, recently hosted a breakfast industry showcase and workshop. It was held in association with the Wexford Food Family at Wilton Castle, outside Enniscorthy town.

The event targeted Wexford’s hospitality establishments – owners, managers and chefs from cafés; restaurants; visitor centres; hotels; guesthouses; and B&Bs. It offered an insight into why serving a quality regional breakfast, using produce from Co. Wexford and surrounding regions, makes economic sense for hospitality businesses.

Keynote speakers were: Georgina Campbell, founder of Georgina Campbell’s Ireland guides and current president of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild; and Sinead Hennessy, food tourism officer with Failte Ireland.

Co-founders of #TasteWexford, Jean O’Connell and Anthony O’Toole, opened the workshop by showcasing a breakfast buffet made up of items from Wexford and surrounding counties, focusing on cold and ambient items instead of Ireland’s famous ‘full Irish’.

‘Taste of Place’

Anthony, a chef, independent culinary creative and food champion with Failte Ireland, emphasised that the Irish breakfast is not just about the ‘full Irish’, but rather about a ‘taste of place’ and our warm hospitality.

A breakfast, he said, can be made up of a diverse range of produce. This, the gathering heard, can include: local fresh fruit in season or preserved; porridge and/or granola, using oatmeal or other Irish grains; sourdough; buttermilk soda bread and scones; brown cake/bread; Irish butter; and honey, jams and preserves.

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It can also incorporates creamy yoghurts and full fat milk; cured smoked fish; dry-cured bacon, cold meats and charcuterie; farmhouse cheeses; free range or organic eggs; fresh pressed juices and cordials; and freshly-ground coffee and fresh tea infusions, Anthony said.

The Irish breakfast can be a simple affair with some key regional ingredients or an elaborate one, depending on the time, location and level of hospitality within the establishment.

Jean and Anthony presented an overview of #TasteWexford and its vision for Wexford to become the model county of exceptional food and drink experiences while connecting tourists with Wexford’s heritage and the unique stories of food and drink producers.

Supporting Local Producers

In their picture-focused presentation, they highlighted that supporting local producers is not just detailing their names on menus, but the overall experience. Servers should know the story behind the food and drink served – who produced it, how it was grown or made, and where they are located, down to why the chef featured it on the menu.

It is this knowledge that can elevate the overall dining experience, the meeting heard. Jean, director of O’Connell Marketing, said that delivering a breakfast experience focused on quality over quantity will generate positive word of mouth and repeat business.

Jean and Anthony presented new food and drink trails and experiences they designed with Lorraine O’Dwyer of Gallivanting Tours. They feature many of Wexford’s producers including: Bean and Goose Chocolates; Regan organic farm; Wheelocks Fruit; Macamore Buffalo; O’Neill’s Bacon; and Ballyminane Mill.

They called on the hospitality establishments in Wexford to step up and provide great regional breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as they said that locals and tourists are looking for them while travelling around the county.

“There are only a handful of establishments in Wexford giving a dining experience which offers a true ‘sense of place’,” Anthony said.

Paula Ronan, co-founder and CEO of Wexford Food Family, a network of over 45 big and small food and drink producers in Wexford, presented its new food and drink directory, recently published for the retail and hospitality industry. The meeting heard that this is a resource that all hospitality providers should be using.

New Food and Drink Strategy

In presenting Failte Ireland’s new food and drink strategy 2018-2023, Sinead Hennessy highlighted that most tourists coming to Ireland are now seeking quality, local food and drink offerings that represent the places they visit.

A lot of work has been done to deliver quality experiences on the ground, but a lot more needs to be done to renew Ireland’s food and drink story in Ireland and worldwide, Sinead said. She stressed that authenticity is key when delivering any culinary experience.

A champion for the Irish breakfast for many decades, Georgina Campbell identified breakfast as the ‘Cinderella’ of the Irish culinary scene. She echoed the message she presents at her annual Irish breakfast awards in association with Failte Ireland, that providing a good breakfast is good for business.

It can be a terrific USP for anyone in hospitality and, being that last meal for guests before paying the bill, it will sweeten the departure process and send people off in great form, eager to spread the word about their wonderful experience. People get to hear about a good breakfast, and they head straight for it.

Both Georgina and Sinead spoke about the significance of a good breakfast in the overall visitor experience to Ireland and how it can pay dividends to individual businesses and the wider community as a tourism destination.

Case Studies

Breakfast case studies delivered by hospitality providers included: chef Ali Honour of Ali’s Kitchen in Cork city; Chris Hadlington from Archways B&B in Rosslare; and Mary Wall of Hanora’s Cottage, Waterford. Both Archways B&B and Hanora’s Cottage are 2018 winners of the Irish breakfast awards.

All presenters shared practical advice on how to ensure that any hospitality establishment can present a quality breakfast. Providing a smaller seasonal menu;  working closely with local producers; offering smaller portion sizes; and using smaller plates were tips.

The presenters said that training and engagement with their front-of-house team on their offering underpins their breakfast experience and ultimately delivers good margins.

Hampers

#TasteWexford seasonal food, drink and craft hampers and #TasteWexford new food, drink and craft hampers were displayed throughout the breakfast event, reflecting the accomplishments of #TasteWexford and its producers.

The seasonal hampers were recently launched for the Christmas season and were designed as vehicles to promote the unique food and drink trails and experiences on offer around the county for 2019.

The luxury food, drink and craft hampers showcase the best food and drink offerings in Wexford, including award-winning brands such as: Naturally Cordial; Bean and Goose chocolate; Wild About; Clever Man beer; Jackford Irish Potato Gin; and Wexford Home Preserves.

Agricultural Significance

Craft pieces that complement food such as a honey pot by Paul Moloney Pottery and wooden cheeseboard by Fingerprint Mementos, are included. The hampers are packed into burnt finish wooden crates to symbolise the rich agricultural significance of Co. Wexford.

This creative collection comes in three different sizes, available online to purchase at: tastewexford.ie/hampers.

The taster hamper costs €80; the Clever Bean hamper is priced €150; and the ‘gin-tastic hamper has a price tag of €250.