Events & FestivalsFood

Good Food Ireland’s ‘Best of the Decade’ revealed at touRRoir

Good Food Ireland revealed their ‘Best of the Decade’ award winners last night following the conclusion of touRRoir at Croke Park.

The awards were designed to “recognise the unique individuality of Good Food Ireland members” over the past ten years”. Or, more to the point, they’re about “about looking back and acknowledging those who have gone the extra mile and whose efforts have impacted change, but they are also about looking forward and taking a glimpse into the future.”

Food Champion

This honour went to Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, Burren Smokehouse.

The Food Champion award recognised an individual who through their work in growing, farming, producing or cooking with Irish food, has also made an outstanding contribution to raising the profile of Ireland as a top quality destination for discerning food lovers.

Also shortlisted were Evan Doyle (Brookodge & Wells Spa), JP McMahon (Aniar), Howard Hastings (OBE, Hastings Hotels) and Dermot Walsh (Walsh’s Bakehouse)

International Ambassador of the Decade

Some of the best known names in Irish food circles were recognised for having gone ‘beyond the call of duty’ in promoting irish food at home and abroad and helping to gain recognition for Ireland as first class culinary destination.

Those recognised in Dublin last night included

  • Sean Kelly, Kelly’s of Newport
  • Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell, Ballymaloe Cookery School
  • Eamonn and Mary Gleeson, Gleeson’s Restaurant and Rooms
  • Peter Ward, Country Choice
  • Robert Ditty, Ditty’s Bakery
  • Kay Harte, Farmgate Café
  • Nora Egan, Inch House & Restaurant
  • Anthony Creswell, Ummera Smokehouse
  • Declan Ryan, Ryan’s Arbutus Breads
  • Ed Cooney, The Merrion Hotel
  • Martin Shanahan, Fishy Fishy Café
  • Jack McCarthy, McCarthy’s of Kanturk
  • Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, Burren Smokehouse
  • Maurice Keller, Waterford
  • Tom O’Connell, O’Connell’s in Donnybrook

Rising Social

Ballyvolane House, Poacher’s Inn and Urro Culinary store were among the shortlistees for the Rising Star award, but that honour went to one of my absolute favourites in Highbank Organic Orchards, only out the road from me in Kilkenny.

Having started with their Orchard Syrup, they’ve moved into a variety of spirits and most recently their first batch of apple vinegar (spotted in the wild at Savour Kilkenny).

Their syrup is a staple in my kitchen and an absolute must-have when it comes to Christmas, particularly for the dessert end of things.

Savvy Social

Christopher Molloy from Lemontree Restaurant in Letterkenny picked up the Savvy Social award.

The award recognises “a member who has not only grasped the concept of using modern social media platforms in the professional arena, but who fully understands the power of technology to get the word out about their business and connect with people, integration of channels, use of different formats such as video, podcast, blog posts etc”

Others in the running included The Butler’s Pantry, ely Wine Bar, Dublin Cookery School and Faithlegg House Hotel.

Good Food Ireland Hall Of Fame

The Good Food Ireland Hall of Fame honours individuals for their consistent, sometimes behind the scenes, beyond the call contribution and dedication to good Irish food and tourism at home and abroad. It also recognises the next generation, those who have influenced, inspired or effected change amongst Ireland’s youth, and those who will take forward with diligence a unanimous love of Irish food and hospitality.

The honouree for 2017 was Veronica Steele of Milleen’s Cheese

Veronica Steele of Milleens Cheese. Photo: CAIS - The Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers
Veronica Steele of Milleens Cheese. Photo: CAIS – The Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Direct from Good Food Ireland…

“an iconic cheesemaker who created Ireland’s first farmhouse cheese, and has also spent years educating many young cheesemakers in the art, as well as travelling abroad to help women in impoverished areas learn how to make cheese so they can make a living and support their families. Veronica is a world class educator, a woman with a huge sense of humour and enormous sense of responsibility to her profession. She has enriched the lives of the many people who have crossed her path, always ready with advice or helpful tips for anyone in the food industry, cheese maker or not. A worthy Good Food Ireland Hall of Fame honouree, Veronica has made over forty years of contribution to Irish food production and to raising the profile of Irish farmhouse cheeses at home and abroad”

International Hall Of Fame

The touRRoir 2016 International Hall of Fame recipients. Photo: Dee Laffan/Twitter
The touRRoir 2016 International Hall of Fame recipients. Photo: Dee Laffan/Twitter

Going somewhat in reverse here as the International Hall of Fame awards were recognised at the beginning of the night.

In the public category, the award went to Agencia Catalana de Turisme; the media category recognised Korean producer Wook-Jung Lee; and finally in the private catgory, Noma‘s René Redzepi was recognised. While I may never get to his restaurant, it was great to sit in a room and hear René Redzepi speak about his upbringing and attitude towards food at Ballymaloe LitFest in 2014.

All going well, there will be another rollout of tourRRoir, and if you missed it you can find out all about it at

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Ken McGuire

Broadcaster and sports writer at KCLR96FM; digital media head with a production eye on theatre, film and video; lover of all things food and music. Currently working on his Brazilian jiu-jitsu game.

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