We chat to Into Kildare CEO Aine Mangan about exciting food festival Taste of Kildare, taking place in the Curragh Racecourse September 24 & 25
While the riches of our beautiful island have long been known, the past few years has certainly ushered in a new age of appreciation for Ireland’s scenery, culture and hospitality. Staycations, both nationally and within our own counties gave us an opportunity to slow down and observe more clearly what we have on our doorstep. Domestic travel, once perhaps thought of as a second choice to going abroad, has now become an attractive proposition, and the tourism and hospitality industry is meeting this shift by increasing offerings and upping standards.
Into Kildare, Co. Kildare’s tourism body in partnership with Kildare County Council, is one such organisation recognising and capitalising on the opportunities that currently abound. Taste of Kildare, the two-day food festival which Into Kildare describes as “a foodie heaven showcasing the very best of Kildare” is an exciting initiative created to provide a great experience for local, national and international visitors, as well as promote the vibrant leisure, hospitality and food offering in the county.
Hotel & Restaurant Times met with Into Kildare’s CEO Aine Mangan to chat about what is sure to be a fantastic celebration of what Kildare has to offer. “I’m so proud to represent Kildare,” Aine says. “We punch above our weight and are known for our warm welcome and Farm to Fork offering. We also have a vibrant racing scene, with three major racecourses, and amazing restaurants and hotels. After a tough two years Taste of Kildare will offer an opportunity to gather again and enjoy delicious food and a great atmosphere, and no better people to do that than those in Ireland and Kildare!”
Taste of Kildare will be tied in with Fáilte Ireland’s Thoroughbred Country Destination Experience Development Plan which was launched in partnership with Kildare and Tipperary County Councils. Fáilte Ireland says the Plan aims to “bring to life the extraordinary thoroughbred horse tradition, the world-renowned horse people, their crafts and the breeding heritage that is synonymous with the regions.” Taste of Kildare will be taking place in the Curragh, and over the course of the two days visitors will experience local food and drink against the backdrop of Kildare’s vibrant equestrian heritage.
“We want to showcase the Curragh and open it up to everyone,” Aine tells us. “We would love families to come to the festival and will have attractions for all ages. On the Saturday of the event, the Goff Millions, Europe’s richest race for two-year-olds, will be taking place, and our food theme that day will be around born and bred in Kildare – there will be lots of food trucks, food samples and products to purchase. Day two, the Sunday, will be the inaugural The Friends of the Curragh Irish Cesarewitch race, which is so exciting. We’ll also have lots of celebrities and guest chefs appearing over the two days.”
As well horseracing, Kildare is well-known for its iconic hotels and top-notch restaurants. Over the course of the weekend, visitors will get a chance to try dishes from hotels and restaurants like Killashee House, Kilkea Castle, Barberstown Castle, Harte’s of Kildare, Fallon’s of Kilcullen, The Dew Drop Inn & Brewhouse, and the Two Cooks – and many more. There will also be a special seven-course tasting lunch available, which will take place on the second day of the festival in the Curragh’s premier Leger Suite. Seven of Kildare’s best-known restaurants are combining forces to prepare the meal, and each course will represent the personality and style of each outlet.
“We’re very lucky,” Aine says. “Kildare is a real foodie destination and Taste of Kildare shows just how much is on offer. The tasting lunch is for foodies who wish to spoil themselves, and it’ll be a truly memorable and unique culinary experience, complete with amazing views – the Leger Suite is on the 3rd floor of the iconic Aga Khan Grandstand and has superb views of the parade ring and finish line and panoramic views across the Curragh track and Curragh plains. The chefs will also be circulating around the room and chatting with guests about the food.”
Taste of Kildare also provides a valuable opportunity for small and medium local businesses to showcase what they do. Over the weekend visitors can meet with Kildare artisans and food producers to learn their story and sample and purchase their products. Kildare Local Enterprise Office (LEO) is one of the event sponsors and is working in conjunction with Into Kildare to help prepare businesses for the festival.
“It’s so important to provide a platform for artisans and start-ups,” Aine says. “We’re providing the stands and looking after the logistics, and LEO has come on board to support the participants to get them ready to showcase what they have over the weekend. There are still spots available and anyone interested in taking part with a stand email us at [email protected].”
It sounds like a fantastic event and we wish Into Kildare and all the participants the very best of luck!
Tickets for a Taste of Kildare are available to purchase for Saturday 24 September or Sunday 25 September 2022. Tickets cost €15 per person and are available online at intokildare.ie/taste-of-kildare/. Under 18s accompanied by an adult go free. Use promo code TOK to be in with a chance to win an overnight stay for two people on Sunday 25 September in Killashee Hotel, with transfers to the Curragh Racecourse.
Tickets for TASTE OF KILDARE at the Curragh, a 7-Course tasting menu in the panoramic St. Leger Restaurant are €175 per person. Price includes reserved parking, admission and table for the day, race cards, dining, tea and coffee.