Fáilte Ireland have selected 14 emerging food champions who will travel on a food tourism benchmarking trip to Prince Edward County in Canada. From 160 entries Galway’s Jp McMahon of Eat Galway (Cava Spanish Restaurant, Aniar Restaurant and Eat@ Massimo) and Fergus O’Halloran of The Twelve Hotel were chosen representing food from the West of Ireland.
The nominees were judged on their ‘resounding passion and belief in Irish food, and a commitment and drive to actively influence and shape the future of Irish cuisine and food tourism in their region’
Helen McDaid, Fáilte Ireland’s Food Tourism Manager said “We received a phenomenal response to our quest to find Ireland’s food champions, receiving almost 160 nominations. The calibre of the nominations was impressive and we will be continuing to look at ways to leverage the interest of the wider group.
With Food Tourism growing significantly over the last decade, many international destinations are now looking to this sector to gain a competitive edge. It’s a serious business as currently 35% of visitor spend here is on food and drink. We can get ahead of the curve by ensuring that we offer visitors the best local and regional food. By showcasing local produce we can really evoke a unique sense of place, and promote Ireland as an unspoilt environment.
Obviously from a tourism perspective how our overseas visitors view and experience Irish food while on holiday here in Ireland is important, not only for tourism, but for the economy.”
The selected Food Champions will experience a bespoke itinerary developed by a renowned food tourism destination expert Rebecca LeHeup and Executive Director of Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA), who will be their guide throughout the trip.
The trip will take place from 15th to 21st October. Once the group returns home they will work together with their local community to help build Ireland’s food tourism reputation and encourage visitors to stop, spend and stay longer. Working together and developing networks and relationships within their localities, they will help to enhance regional knowledge of local foods and develop engaging food experiences to truly utilise food tourism as a workable economic development strategy.
Jp McMahon said: “From the success of the inaugural Galway Food Festival, we have seen firsthand how food can be a driving force to increase visitors to Galway city. I am looking forward to learning more on how we can leverage this success and use knowledge gained from the trip to better our offerings both in our three restaurants Cava, Aniar and Eat but as also a Failte Ireland Food Champion in Galway”.
Fergus O’Halloran, General Manager of the Twelve Hotel, added: “We have a tremendous passion and belief in food tourism and in showcasing local ingredients and skills, and we are delighted to have been selected so that we can learn how to best communicate some of our enthusiasm as part of this innovative project.”
Canada’s Prince Edward County was picked as a model because it faces similar challenges to Ireland and has a range of successfully integrated food tourism products and activities, and the people behind these. While there, the group will meet with the pioneers of the local food movement about how they used quality local produce and food customs to differentiate and successfully position Prince Edward County as a reputable food tourism destination.