From Ice Wine to Young Buck Cheese – Eight of the best Irish food producers named at 2019 awards

What have a rare apple ice wine, a mature goat’s cheese and a charity offering nourishing hot meals got in common?

All are Irish foods, producers and organisations revealed today as the best on the island in the 2019 Irish Food Awards.

Run by the Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG), the awards are independently judged and celebrate indigenous businesses boosting Ireland’s food and drink reputation north and south of the border.

The full list of winners includes Hegarty Cheese, 3fe Coffee, Young Buck Cheese, Dunany Flour’s Organic Spelt Berries, Killahora Orchard’s Rare Apple Ice Wine, with special awards for Co Antrim’s Broughgammon Farm, Cork Penny Dinners and Peter Hannon of Hannon Meats.

“Each year, the IFWG singles out a select number of products and organisations that evoke pride in our national food identity and contribute to our rich and diverse food culture,” explained Kristin Jenson, chairperson of the IFWG.

With winners from both sides of the border, the awards highlight both the opportunities and challenges facing Irish food producers, Jenson added, speaking at a lunch celebrating the winners at Dublin’s Glover’s Alley.

“Many of these are small businesses and, together with all in the food industry, they have major concerns over what is coming down the track following Brexit.

“With the threat of UK tariffs a real possibility, it is incumbent on us all, government, industry and consumers, to protect and support our abundance of incredible food producers, who have played a significant role in helping position Ireland as a food tourism destination,” she added.

She urged all sectors of society to source, buy and eat “local, high-quality produce” to help Irish producers thrive during this period of uncertainty.

2019 IFWG Food Award Winners:

Hegarty Cheese, Teampall Gael Cheese, Co. Cork

The Hegarty family are fifth-generation dairy farmers in North Cork. In 2015, they started producing a new cheese, Teampall Gael, which is matured for at least nine months and is made in 40kg wheels that are brushed and turned three times a week, resulting in a Comté-style raw milk cheese with a sweet, delicate, nutty flavour.

Dunany Flour, Organic Spelt Berries, Co. Louth

The Workman family’s Dunany Farm is a traditional fourth-generation enterprise, producing organic grains since 2006. High in fibre and B vitamins and low in gluten, Dunany organic spelt berries are a unique and versatile Irish-grown wholegrain and a great alternative to imported grains.

Killahora Orchards, Rare Apple Ice Wine, Co. Cork

Killahora Orchards is a family business where more than 130 varieties of apple and 40 pear varieties are grown. Its range includes craft cider, apple port, perry and Rare Apple Ice Wine – made by slowly freezing apples and then thawing the pressed apple juice.It is recommended as a dessert wine, but works equally well with pork and cheeses.

Mike Thomson, Young Buck Cheese, Co. Down

Mike Thomson raised £80,000 through crowdfunding to start making Young Buck, Northern Ireland’s first raw-milk blue cheese. The milk is sourced from a small farm 10 miles from Mike’s home in Co. Down. Young Buck is a Stilton-style cheese, with a strong, salty flavour and a characteristic knobbly crust.

Outstanding Organisation Award: 3fe, Co. Dublin

Colin Harmon quit a career in finance in 2008 to devote himself to coffee. Today, he is an Irish Barista Championship winner supplying more than 50 businesses and running three cafés, a restaurant and roastery facility. 3fe is being awarded for the company’s commitment to sustainability.

Environmental Award: Broughgammon Farm, Co. Antrim

The Broughgammon Farm rears male goats that would have otherwise been put down at birth to product delicious and healthy cabrito kid goat meat. The farm believes in a sustainable, local food chain and as such encourages back-to-basics, nose-to-tail, fork-to-field and seasonal eating.

Community Food Award: Cork Penny Dinners

Cork Penny Dinners was founded during famine times in the 1840s and is one of Cork’s oldest charitable organisations. Their core service is to offer a nourishing hot meal in a safe environment to all those in need. Currently they serve up to 2,000 freshly made meals each week.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Hannan, Co. Down

Peter Hannan grew up on a farm in Co. Kildare and founded Hannan Meats in 1991. Hannan Meats still serves its first five clients as well as some of the finest establishments in the UK, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. Provenance is one of the guiding principles of Peter’s business, and he works closely with a network of almost 150 of the best beef farmers in Northern Ireland and the Republic to produce the highest-quality meat.

The Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards were hosted at Glovers Alley, with a lunch using their produce devised and prepared by chef Andy McFadden.

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