• Cyril McAree

A Taste Of West Cork Food Festival Launches, Welcoming Australian Chefs

which runs from 6-15th September, yesterday (11th July 2019) launched its wide-ranging programme of events at Baltimore Castle, Baltimore, West Cork. The highlight of this year’s Festival will be a culinary collaboration, and perhaps cook-off, between West Cork’s best chefs and four Australian chefs, along with four returning guest chefs from the US.

With an enviable creative culinary reputation earned over the last 16 years, A Taste of West Cork Food Festival rises to new heights this September with 265 fascinating foodie and adventure events, from Bantry to Beara, to Baltimore and Bandon, Courtmacsherry and Clonakilty, and selected hostelries, nine islands and rustic retreats in between. Working with the Australian Embassy and its Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Richard Andrews, who launched the Festival, a team of four Australian Indigenous chefs from the National Indigenous Culinary Institute – led by twin brothers Luke and Samuel Bourke of Sydney’s Rockpool restaurant, aided by junior chefs David Gray and Joshua Moore – will showcase their unique ‘bush tucker’, working alongside West Cork’s super chefs to bring an eclectic food offering during this ground-breaking visit. The Festival also sees the return of two chefs from Providence, one from Quincy, Massachusetts and one from Maine, each of whom created quite a foodie frisson last year when they participated in several culinary challenges with their experienced and creative West Cork counterparts at this ‘best in class’ food festival. Speaking at the launch, volunteer Chairman of A Taste of West Cork Food Festival, Helen Collins told us: “The groundswell of support and unity that West Cork has displayed to date in promoting this unique region is heart-lifting. It’s quite a feat to have buy-in from 50 towns, villages and island to this initiative, and participants are to be commended for their ingenuity and commitment, year in, year out, meting out no less than 265 amazing events that will appeal to all comers, bringing them in to the heart and soul of West Cork. I am enormously proud of the encouragement and support around the Festival this year and we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors to our vibrant foodie destination in this incredible south-west corner of Ireland.” A Taste of West Cork Food Festival will welcome popular Irish and European chefs including Ahmet Dede (Mews Restaurant, Baltimore), Robbie Krawczyk (Restaurant Chestnut, Ballydehob), Michael Quinn (formerly Waterford Castle and Ballymaloe House), and the in-demand Happy Pear (Stephen and David Flynn) from Dublin. The list of chefs, both guest and native, is impressive and extensive, so avid foodies are advised to visit www.atasteofwestcok.com, where the full programme of events is listed. Quirky or classy culinary events include the following: From the Land, Sea & Shore: Four visiting Indigenous Australia chefs will join Head Chef of the Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff for a day for foraging and cooking, demonstrating modern-day skills in a special 8-course tasting menu in the ‘olde world’ hotel – Sunday 8th September 2019. Maine Meets Monks Lane: Award-winning USA guest chef Brett Carey brings his passion for food to Monks Lane, Timoleague for one very memorable evening – Thursday 12th September 2019. A Taste of Turkey: Michelin Star Chef, Ahmet Dede of The Mews, Baltimore, will cook his favourite Turkish dishes at Baltimore’s newest restaurant, The Customs House, and ably assisted by the popular twin guest chefs from Australia, Luke and Samuel Bourke – Tuesday 10th September 2019. The Garden Room Banquet: Guest chef Ed Cooney of The Merrion Hotel, Dublin, brings his inspirational Garden Room menu to The Church Restaurant, Skibbereen, working with their creative team to showcase West Cork’s abundant produce – Thursday 12th September 2019. Unique adventure events include: Forest bathing at Caherbeg Free Range Farm, Rosscarbery, with a contemplative guided walk/guided meditation through the Allshire-Howe family farm and tranquil atmospheric woodlands, culminating in an assemble-your-own tasting of the very best of West Cork Produce – Friday 6th September Fastnet Rock Sunset Tour, circumnavigating the famous rock, and perhaps witnessing humpback, fin or minke whales and other spectacular sea life during the trip – Friday 6th September Top of the Rock Farm, Drimoleague for two hours of fun and learning, with baby animals, egg collecting, curious cattle and wonderful wildlife. Ends with a cookie baking session and a Farmhand’s Certificate – Saturday 7th September With 43 guest chefs, 14 guest speakers and a plethora of events for families, friends, couples, and food-lovers alike, it’s no wonder this festival is ‘the talk of the place’, as they say locally. Conferences, exhibitions and forums are an integral component to A Taste of West Cork Food Festival, with this year being no exception when The West Cork Forum, sponsored by Sean & Rose O Driscoll and entitled ‘Facing the Challenges of a Rapidly Changing World – our Survival’, under the chairmanship of Lord David Puttnam, promises to stimulate an interesting conversation amongst several speakers, including Baroness Bryony Worthington, architect of the UK Climate Change Act, and Executive Director for Europe of the Environmental Defence Fund. See the website www.atasteofwestcork.com for the full list of high-profile speakers on this important topic which affects present and future generations. The Festival is kindly supported by Cork County Council, Sean and Rose O’Driscoll, Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland, The Gwendolyn Harold Barry Trust, Fields of Skibbereen, Bord Bia, Pure Cork, Cork Airport and many other supporting sponsors and patrons from the region and elsewhere. To book accommodation/events and to see the full A Taste of West Cork Food Festival programme online where contact details of each venue are listed, browse the programme online or pick up a hard copy locally. Furthermore, the A Taste of West Cork Artisan Food Guide is available from selected book shops throughout West Cork.

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