The EirGrid Euro-Toques food awards were announced this week and once again the awards have highlighted small artisan producers, proving just how important this sector is to Ireland’s chefs.
The 2015 Awards had the most nominations since the awards inception in 2005 covering everything from artisanal beers and spirits to hand-cooked crisps, new farmhouse cheeses, and grass-fed poultry. The winners ranged from brand new businesses to multi-generational ones from all over Ireland – Wicklow, Galway, Kilkenny, Cork and Clare.
Euro-Toques Ireland Commissioner General Wade Murphy spoke of the growth in the Irish Artisan sector over the last decade; “there’s almost nothing Irish artisans don’t produce at this stage and chefs like us are the beneficiaries!” he said.
There are currently over 3,500 small to medium sized food businesses operating in Ireland. Encouragingly many chefs have realised that working directly with small producers can benefit both parties and Euro-Toques sponsorship of awards such as this is to be encouraged.
Ear to the Ground broadcaster Ella McSweeney presented the awards and finished with a particularly apposite quote from the American poet and environmentalist Wendell Berry – “Eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth.”
In highlighting endangered foods such as hand harvested seaweed, organic apple syrup, raw milk cheese, sustainable and fairly traded chocolate beans and small abattoir produced meat – this year’s Euro-Toque awards make a political statement, one that should be listened to.