2018 A Taste of West Cork Food Festival has lift-off!

The Eccles Hotel

Chefs from Ireland and the US set to tantalise our taste buds as Ireland’s premier food festival lifts off this Friday in West Cork.
Monday 3rd September 2018: Food producers, chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers, and foodies from the West Cork region are about to see all systems go into over-drive on their premises for the annual A Taste of West Cork Food Festival, starting this Friday until September 16th.

‘With 255 events taking place in 41 towns and villages and eight islands around West Cork during the 10-day Festival, the numbers participating this year are quite extraordinary and very gratifying.  The food choices are simply delicious, delightful and authentic, and the venues are imaginative, welcoming and firmly committed to providing quality culinary events’ said Helen Collins, volunteer Chair of A Taste of West Cork Food Festival.  ‘With experienced chefs, superb food and seafood, award-winning restaurants, and a backdrop of stunning land and seascapes, visitors and local people are in for a treat, with endless choices on the menu’.
West Cork was awarded the No. 1 Foodie Destination 2017 by The Restaurant Association of Ireland (it is also short-listed for a prestigious international award in November), and the Festival now brings its culinary reputation to new heights with the arrival of 6 chefs from the USA.  With thirty-four guest chefstwenty-three guest speakers, and a plethora of events for families, friends, couples, and food-lovers alike, it’s no wonder the Winner of US MasterChef 2017, Shaun O’Neale and his fellow chefs are eager to hit the West Cork shores and share their experiences with the expected 30,000 visitors to the region during the Festival  
The Chefs
Popular Irish guest chefs include Rachel Allen and Martin Shanahan, with the Michelin-Star chef Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivainreturning for his eclectic food extravaganza on Sherkin Island this Saturday.
Bantry Market

New additions to this year’s programme include; the hugely vibrant Happy Pear brothers Dave and Stephen Flynn, Andrew Heron and Damien Grey of Michelin starred restaurant Heron & Grey and Ken Doherty and Gwen McGrath of Assassination Custard, Eddie Attwell (Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff). 
They will be joined by award-winning food ambassadors including Diana Dodog (MasterChef Ireland Winner 2014), Tessa Perry (Glebe Gardens – Irish Times Best Irish Café 2015), Robbie Krawczyk (Restaurant Chestnut, Ballydehob - Ireland’s Best Chef in Leinster 2016), Caitlin Ruth (Deasy’s Harbour Bar & Restaurant – Best Gastro Pub in Cork 2016), Hugh Hyland (Head Chef at Roly’s Bistro, Dublin), Carmel Somers (Good Things Café Skibbereen and Irish Times food columnist) and Enda McEvoy (Best Chef in Ireland 2016), Ross Lewis, (Michelin Star Chapter One, Dublin).  Other familiar ‘home-grown’ Guest Chefs returning to the Festival include Danni Barry (Michelin Star chef and Irish Chef of the Year 2017), Kevin Ahern (winner of Best Chef in Munster Awards 2014 at the age of 24), Bryan McCarthy (award-winning Head Chef at Greene’s Restaurant, Cork), Decky Walsh (Chef and Pitmaster specialist at Holy Smoke Cork) and Paul Cartwright (Chef de Cuisine at Roly’s Bistro Dublin).
Chefs from Providence, Quincy and Scituate (which is twinned with West Cork and where 60% of its inhabitants have an Irish background) will guest chef at several restaurants across West Cork during the Festival.  Shaun O’Neale (USA MasterChef 2016 winner), Matt Varga (Providence), Ballincollig native Brian Houlihan (Scituate), Tom Anacone (Quincy), Anthony Tarro (Providence, Rhode Island) and David Levi (Maine) are amongst those listed to delight audiences.
Not forgetting our European counterparts, Belgian Chef Daphny Hilven, Lyon-based Chef Olivier Maindroult and Italian/Argentinian Chef Florencio Fons will also descend on West Cork for the Festival, ready to share their secrets to culinary success. 
Sustainability, foraging, and home-grown produce plays an increasingly important part in modern society and with that in mind there will be an abundance of workshops and events presented by experts such as Alan Mahn (forager and wild medicine expert). The burgeoning vegan population and those interested in the health food lifestyle will find vegan chefs Suzanna Melinn (Banana Melon Kitchen) and Jena Malone (vegan Korean and Vietnamese) sharing their menus during the Festival. As part of the Festival, the West Cork Creates exhibition runs at the O’Driscoll building in Skibbereen throughout the festival. 
Conferences, fora and talks are an integral component to A Taste of West Cork Food Festival, with this year being no exception where The West Cork Forum ‘West Cork Paradox – Famine to Feast – Survival to Innovation’ takes place on Saturday 8th September at 1pm (note change of time) at Baltimore Sailing Club, with guest speakers including the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan,  Intel Ireland Vice President of Technology & Manufacturing Group & General Manager Eamonn Sinnott, Symposium Director of ‘Food On the Edge’ events and Chef/Owner at Aniar Galway JP McMahon, and businessman (and key sponsor of the Forum) Sean O’Driscoll.
The Festival is supported by Cork County Council, Sean and Rose O’Driscoll, Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Fields of Skibbereen, Bord Bia, Pure Cork, Cork Airport, Cork Convention Centre and many other supporting sponsors and patrons from the region and elsewhere.
To book accommodation/events, to see the full A Taste of West Cork Food Festival programme online, or to buy a West Cork Artisan Food Guide featuring the best that West Cork has to offer, see www.atasteofwestcork.com

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