Food file: Local food stars and well travelled sauces

West Waterford Festival of Food highlights local produce and stars


Great Irish Bake Off judge Lilly Higgins and home economics teacher Ethna Sheehan faced a tough task in Dungarvan on Sunday morning, presented with a massive dining table in the Tannery Cookery School crammed with really impressive showstopper cakes to be assessed. Higgins had a kind word for all of the youthful bakers, before selecting Cleon Whelan and Jennifer Morrissey's rainbow pinata cake as the junior winners and Louise Murphy's teddy bears' picnic for the senior honours.

The winners are all students at St Declan's Community College in Kilmacthomas and their home economics teacher Ciara O'Hehir was on hand to see them take the honours.



"It's a big, big deal. It's the first time for me to come home to cook since I left. It's very emotional ... I'm about to cry." Robin Gill, the trailblazing chef from south Co Dublin who has four successful London restaurants, is accustomed to praise. But the reception he received from diners at the Tannery restaurant in Dungarvan, where he cooked a seven-course menu last Saturday night, seemed to really move him.

"The best food ever served in the Tannery," was how chef-patron Paul Flynn described the menu, which featured dishes from Gill's London kitchens as well as some created specially for the event, part of the West Waterford Festival of Food.

Sour potato flatbread with cultured whiskey butter; beetroot tartare with smoked egg yolk; applewood smoked eel; Comeragh mountain lamb, and a dessert of salted caramel, cacao and malted barley ice cream, were highlights of a feast that wowed diners. “The food appears utterly simple, but actually it’s not, it’s exceedingly complex and well thought-out – and unique in my opinion,” said Flynn. “What we try to do for Dungarvan and West Waterford is to make the place significant, and tonight Robin and Richie [Falk, Gill’s head chef at The Dairy] and Sam [Burfield, Tannery head chef] have made it that.” (Burfield, Flynn and Gill are pictured above in the Tannery kitchen).

The Tannery also hosted "Sunday lunch with the Stars" with Graham Neville (Restaurant FortyOne), Kieran Glennon (Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud) and Mickael Viljanen (The Greenhouse) sending out pickled mackerel; cod with wild garlic and morels; slow-cooked beef rib, and chiboust cream with strawberries, basil and lemon curd.


A culinary journey from Mexico to Japan, via Malaysia and Hong Kong was the theme of the festival cooking demos.

Lily Ramirez Foran of Picado Mexican grocery in Dublin, and Javier Garduno of El Sombrero sauces in Dunhill, made tostadas, while talking about their native country's food and culture – and sending out the message that real Mexican food is most definitely not TexMex.

Kwanghi Chan, who used to work at the nearby Cliff House, before setting up the kitchen at Soder + Co, is now a development chef, and food entrepreneur – having created a Hong Kong street food-style sauce. His audience got a chance to try it alongside glutinous rice parcels with shrimp and pork, steamed in lotus leaves.

Cork restaurateur Takashi Miyazaki made making udon noodles look deceptively simple, while telling the story of how he met his wife when he was cooking in an Irish pub in Japan, while now he's making Japanese food in Ireland.

Kevin O’Toole of Dublin’s Chameleon restaurant and Sham Hanifa of The Cottage restaurant near Carrick- on-Shannon teamed up for a lively session exploring fusion food, with O’Toole plating up spiced pork belly with an Asian slaw and Hanifa cooking a spiced lamb dish with arancini on the side.


If chef and journalist Joe McNamee was spotted dumpster diving around the back of shops and supermarkets in Dungarvan last weekend, all can be explained. He was foraging for supplies for the Gourmet Garbage event hosted by Louise Clarke (right) at Nude Food on Saturday. McNamee and chef Michael Quinn put together a four-course menu and food writer Dee Laffan kept diners engaged with a discussion on food waste, and how what was on their plates might have been destined for landfill. "It was meant to be for 30, but Louise can't say no, so we ended up cooking for 37," McNamee said.


Caterer Eunice Power took over an empty restaurant premises on Saturday night and turned it into a bustling space where local produce and Spanish wine came together in a happy marriage. Baked Knockalara cheese; Blackwater vodka sorbet; slow-cooked Jacob's Ladder, and rhubarb posset were served and John Wilson introduced wines from Rias Baixas and Ribera del Duero.