Irish Restaurant Awards: Vote for your favourite eaterie
Plus: France-Ireland Gastronomy Month is in March; and Lismore Food Company invades China
Guillaume Lebrun of Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud; French ambassador to Ireland Stephane Crouzat; Zoe Kavanagh, chief executive of the National Dairy Council; and Ross Lewis of Chapter One Restaurant
Vote and win
There is still time to reward your favourite restaurant by casting your vote in the 10th annual Irish Restaurant Awards, which generated more than 80,000 nominations from the public last year.
Voting is open at irishtimes.com/irishrestaurantawards until noon next Wednesday, January 24th, and readers who cast their vote will be entered into a competition to win one of two gourmet breaks offered by Ireland’s Blue Book.
The public vote is the first step in a five-month campaign and counts for 20 per cent weighting in the judging process, with the remainder accounted for by regional judging panel assessments. County winners then go forward to regional and all-Ireland judging, at which stage mystery guest inspections come into play.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants’ Association of Ireland, speaking at the launch of the 2018 awards in Chapter One restaurant in Dublin, said: “The aim of the Irish Restaurant Awards is to honour the hard-working people of the hospitality industry, from cocktail makers, sommeliers and waiters to restaurant managers and local food champions.
“The restaurant industry is the biggest employer within the Irish tourism sector, employing over 74,000 people and these awards are a celebration and acknowledgement of the hard work put in by restaurateurs year round.”
There are 21 categories up for consideration including, for the first time this year, one for the establishment offering the best “free-from” options, in recognition of dietary restrictions and lifestyle choices.
Vive la France
March is France-Ireland Gastronomy Month 2018, an intercultural project that involves restaurants, culinary and hospitality schools, and which is part of the Goût de France, a French government initiative that aims to raise awareness of that country’s cuisine.
Last year more than 2,100 participating restaurants in 150 countries, including Ireland, across five continents, served a French-inspired meal, as part of the “world’s largest French dinner”, according to the French embassy in Dublin. This year the dinner can be staged any day during the week beginning March 21st, and restaurateurs who would like to take part can sign up online at uk.fracne.fr (search for Gout de France in the site).
In addition, the French and Irish National Dairy Councils, the school of culinary arts at DIT and the French embassy in Dublin are offering culinary students in both countries a chance to win work experience stages by designing three-course menus celebrating Irish and/or French dairy produce.
Biscuit break in China and Japan
Consumers in China with a hankering for a biscuit made with Irish butter can now have them delivered to them within the hour. The Lismore Food Company’s luxury biscuit range – shortbread, lemon polenta, dark chocolate and cardamom, and hazelnut, cinnamon and raisin – has just gone on sale via Chinese online platform WeChat.
According to Ken Madden, who runs the biscuit company with his brother Owen and Lismore Castle head chef Beth-Ann Smith, explains that the marketing opportunity came about through “an Irish contact based in Hong Kong who is working with local distribution with a focus on online retailing via the WeChat platform”.
Lismore Food Company has also taken orders for its Dark Chocolate Apple Crisp Thins from the Japanese luxury department store group Takashimaya. This product is made for the company by a family business in Hungary. “We don’t have the technology in Ireland yet to produce the apple crisps both at scale and price, but we are working to make this a reality,” Madden says.
Fair deal coffee
Coffee drinkers with a conscience can avail of a whopping €1 discount on their takeway drink of choice at Ross Staunton’s Foodgame cafe in Dublin this month. The discount applies to all coffees served in a keep cup, until the end of January.