Yesterday evening saw over 1,100 professionals from the hospitality industry attend the annual Irish Restaurant Awards at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin.
Three talented Donegal Chefs took home awards this year with our very own tour partner Mr Cormac Walsh of The Olde Glen Bar, Glen, taking the regional award for Best Casual Dining. Cormac comes from a family of hoteliers, his passion for good food and hospitality clearly marked in his DNA. He has played an instrumental role in the success of Donegal Food Tours with his encouragement, advise and desire to put Donegal food on the map.
Chef Joe Mc Glynn of Hooked, Sligo win the Connaught round for Best Casual Dining. Donegal born Joe has represented Ireland in the European Culinary Arts competition and was shortlisted for Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year 2011.
He has worked alongside some of the best, including Paul Flynn chef – proprietor at Tannery Restaurant, Dungarvan, formerly head chef of Chez Nico’s three Michelin star restaurant in London and Chef Stephen Tuohy, formerly of one Michelin star restaurant Lindsay House in Soho, London, ran by Richard Corrigan.
Chef Ciaran Sweeney of Forest & Marcy, Dublin took home Best Emerging Irish Cuisine. Ciaran says of his childhood growing up in Downings – “I grew up with a sort of food culture around me I suppose, but I didn’t know any different because that was the way it was. My grandfather growing spuds at the side of the house, using seaweed, going fishing, seeing my grandparents making homemade butter”. “They weren’t doing it for a fad or because it was trendy, it was a way of life, survival.”
From his days spent learning about native foods at home to working in two-Michelin-starred Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham, Ciaran has worked with some of the most iconic chefs in the industry and often makes guest appearances in Donegal kitchens such as breac.house, Dunfanaghy.
Speaking at the awards, Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said: “This is the 11th year of the Irish Restaurant Awards, and it has been the biggest year for the awards to date.
“Over 90,000 nominations were received from the public in January, and over 2,000 restaurateurs attended the Regional Awards, which were held in Kildare, Monaghan, Limerick and Sligo. The standard for judging this year has been very high.”