American food expert urges Kilkenny chefs to put bacon and cabbage back on the menu

A RENOWNED American food writer told a gathering of food experts and chefs in Kilkenny not to turn their backs on traditional dishes such as bacon and cabbage.

A RENOWNED American food writer told a gathering of food experts and chefs in Kilkenny not to turn their backs on traditional dishes such as bacon and cabbage.

Colman Andrews told the Savour Kilkenny Foodcamp held in Newpark Hotel that if Ireland is to become a top culinary destination for tourists, it needs to rediscover its food heritage and “traditional cuisine” and start turning its back on imported dishes.

Andrews was one of the speakers at the second annual Savour Kilkenny Foodcamp which debated the theme “The Great Irish Food Fight – is traditional Irish Cuisine an embarrassment of riches or just an embarrassment?”

He researched old Irish dishes for his book The Country Cooking of Ireland and blamed the Celtic Tiger for the international dishes that dominate the menus in most Irish restaurants.

Andrews told a huge gathering of foodies that he was surprised that many Irish chefs were unaware of the variety of Irish food from the past. Old Irish dishes he uncovered during research for his book included oyster rolls, which are toasted French rolls with oysters on top cooked in a cream sauce.

Another came from a Mrs Baker from Ballytobin in Co Kilkenny, from 1840. Her pickled salmon dish was described as a “sportsman’s breakfast, large bowl of new milk, a liberal allowance of cold salmon soaked in vinegar”. It was generally washed down with a bottle of port wine.

Meanwhile the importance of the food industry in the South East was highlighted at a Food Industry Seminar to coincide with the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.

Titled “The Irish Food Industry: Policies at National and Regional Level” it was held in the Parade Tower on Friday.

Speakers at the seminar included Dr Sean Brady,  chairman of the Department of Agriculture and Food 2020 Committee, Declan Rice, CEO of the Kilkenny Leader Partnership, Sean Molloy of Glanbia ingredients, Helen McDaid, head of Food Tourism with Failte Ireland and Joe Crockett, county manager.

The seminar was told that 40 micro and medium food industries in Kilkenny turned over €15 million between them last year and employed 90 people.

A study from the Kilkenny Leader Partnership showed that 70 food retail outlets in the area have an estimated combined turnover of €125 million.

In addition 139 companies involved in food service/ food tourism had combined turnovers for food of €104 million.

Attendees were told that the food industry had to be taken seriously and is a huge driver in Ireland’s economic recovery with food producers needing to be supported as much as possible.

Meanwhile Kilkenny hurling star Michael Fennelly shared some of his secrets to his top sporting achievements at a well attended Savour Kilkenny ‘Nutrition for a Healthy Lifestyle’ seminar in The Pembroke Hotel on Thursday evening.