Featured on IrishTimes.ie: Mount Juliet takes flagship awards as food conference seeks to meet industry challenges


Wed 20th Nov 2013
Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny scooped three flagship awards as it swept the boards at the annual Good Food Ireland awards at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin last night.
The luxury estate won the overall Supreme Award and the Outstanding Place to Stay Award, while the Lady Helen Restaurant added the Restaurant of the Year Award to its recently bestowed Michelin star.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented the awards and said they help to make Ireland “synonymous with good food”. He added this reputation is “vital” to supporting Ireland’s €9 billion of food and drink exports.
Earlier in the day, Good Food Ireland hosted its annual conference where there was extensive discussion on the challenges faced by the Irish food industry and what tools can be utilised to meet those challenges.
Michelin-starred Chaper One co-owner and head chef Ross Lewis said that with unity in the food industry and co-operation with Government agencies he was “absolutely convinced” Irish produce would “have its day in the sun”.
“We’re a small island nation and we’re very used to looking to the outside for what is great – but I really do see a change in that,” he said. “I see confidence in young Irish chefs.”
He warned however of an increase in restaurant prices over the next couple of years. “We’re finding it very hard to find chefs at the moment,” he said. “There is wage inflation and I can assure you the prices in restaurants will be going up in the next year or two.”
The influence of the internet and social media on the food industry was to the forefront of the conference.
International marketing consultant Noel Toolan said there was “a revolution” happening in terms of how the industry markets itself.
“I think it’s an especially good thing for smaller entities because now scale is less of an advantage,” he said. “It’s much more about word-of-mouth and the reputation which follows from that. That is now much easier than before and there is very little cost involved.”
Tourism Ireland head of customer engagement and e-marketing Brian Harte said different internet tools had different things to offer food producers and restaurateurs alike. “Facebook is about long-term relationships,” he said.
“It’s a relatively intimate network while Twitter is much broader and unbounded. I would suggest it is primarily a consumer retention and relationship management tool.”
The issue of childhood obesity and healthy eating was also discussed, while, separately, a survey from Safefood yesterday found only 42 per cent of eating establishments list vegetables on any part of the children’s menu.
Supreme Award of the Year: Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny
Ambassador of the Year: Rory O’Connell, Ballymaloe Cookery School, for his exemplary contribution to assisting with the Good Food Ireland Food Summit in partnership with the Web Summit.
Restaurant of the Year: Lady Helen Restaurant, Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny
Food Lover Choice Award: The Oarsman, Co Leitrim
International Cuisine Award: Ananda Restaurant, Dublin
Pub of the Year: Harte’s Bar and Grill, Kildare
Cafe of the Year: Kalbo’s, Skibbereen, Co Cork
Seafood Restaurant: Fishy Fishy Cafe, Kinsale. 
Highly Commended: QC’s Seafood Restaurant, Bar and Townhouse, Cahirciveen
Culinary Haven: Newforge House, Co Armagh
Food Innovation Excellence Award: Sage Restaurant, Midleton, Co Cork
Food Shop: Urru Culinary Store, Bandon, Co Cork
Grow It Yourself Award: Toscana Restaurant, Dublin
Innovative Cookery Course: Aniar Restaurant, Galway
Producer of the Year 
North: Glastry Farm Ice Cream, Co Down
South: Milleens Cheese, Co Cork
East: Wild About, Co Wexford West: Inch House Traditional Black Pudding, Co Tipperary
Casual Dining Award: An Port Mór, Westport, Co Mayo
Outstanding Place to Stay: Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny
Best Use of Irish Language Award: Country Choice, Nenagh, Co Tipperary


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