Remember, a simple message in these unusual times….
eat well, support local producers and buy Irish food
We are delighted to be working with Donegal LEO to support this year’s Best in Donegal.
“Over the years, Donegal food businesses have enjoyed great success at Blas na hÉireann, the Irish Food Awards, and it’s a great celebration of the best in the business,” said Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal. “Developing the Donegal food story is a key focus for Local Enterprise Office Donegal and our Food Coast Donegal initiative aims to support, celebrate and grow the food sector in the county. Donegal benefits from an abundance of locally sourced ingredients, from the finest fish and meats to fresh homegrown vegetables. It’s an exciting time for food in the county and while we’ve always been known for our stunning landscape now the food that comes from that landscape is getting the recognition it deserves. Feedback from staycationers last summer consistently mentioned the quality and value of the Donegal food experience and we look forward to building on that tradition.”
This year, as always, every entry will be eligible for the Best in County award, which is awarded to the highest scoring product from that county.
Donegal winners and finalists in 2020 included Aran Ard Teo, Atlantic Treasures, Donegal Rapeseed, Filligans, Green pastures, The Shack & Wild Fischia bakehouse. You can find more details on finalists & winners here
“The last 12 months have been like no other in the history of Blas na hÉireann,” says Chairman Artie Clifford. “We could never have imagined what lay ahead when we launched last year’s awards. It is testament to our team, our partners in UCC, IT Tralee and TU Dublin, our sponsors, the resilience and innovation of our amazing producers and our wider Blas community that we were able to announce our 2020 winners in a virtual celebration last October. It is with this experience under our belt that we can confidently launch Blas 2021 – knowing that no matter what, we will celebrate the very finest Irish food and drink in the best way possible.”
These are exceptionally rigorously-judged awards, as Blas na hÉireann use an innovative blind-tasting judging system developed by Blas with the Food Science Dept of UCC and the University of Copenhagen that is now recognised as an industry gold standard worldwide. Last year, these systems were successfully moved from the campus in UCC to Dingle to work within constraints of lockdown and travel restrictions.
“2020 was an incredibly difficult year,” says Blas na hÉireann Chairman Artie Clifford. “With businesses pushed to the brink, the closure of the hospitality sector left many producers without some of their key accounts. However, with many producers pivoting their business quickly and the general public getting far more interested in the quality of the food in their basket and on their plate, there were deep ties made between communities and their local producers. Our goal is to build on this and ensure that when restaurants reopen, the ties made between the public and these products remains.
So whether a new business has flourished over the past 12 months or an existing product is being used in a brand new way, a Blas na hÉireann gold stamp of approval could see it reach new heights and, most importantly, new customers.
You can watch a video of our 2020 judging here
2020 – Response to challenges & restrictions, how we judged