Savour festival presents Kilkenny’s Food Heroes

This year’s Savour Kilkenny Food Festival is applauding local Food Heroes by honouring their achievements and innovation and crowning the Kilkenny Food Producer of the Year.

This year’s Savour Kilkenny Food Festival is applauding local Food Heroes by honouring their achievements and innovation and crowning the Kilkenny Food Producer of the Year.

A dozen of Kilkenny’s finest food producers – many international award winners – will be showcased in a marquee on the Parade Plaza during the festival from October 25-29.

The weekend the public will be able to meet with the Food Heroes, learn the secrets of their success, and taste their products. A team of judges will select the Savour Kilkenny Food Producer of the Year 2012 from the nominees who will receive a commissioned piece of pottery by Mark Campden of Bridge Pottery.

Each week between now and the end of October we will feature three Food Heroes. So whet your appetites now and then meet them all at Savour Kilkenny!

Helen Finnegan, Knockdrinna Cheese

Helen Finnegan of Knockdrinna Cheese in Stoneyford, is an artisan cheese maker who has come a long way since experimenting with some neighbour’s milk in her kitchen! She is now one of the finest quality artisan cheese makers in Ireland and the UK. Since 2004 Helen has being making high-quality speciality cheeses using traditional artisan methods. She produces a range from a mild goat’s cheese to a more robust mature sheep’s cheese. She has also developed other products including pesto, relish and tapenade, all of which are great accompaniments to cheese.

Helen was crowned the British Cheese Awards “Supreme Champion” in 2011 and this year won the Best Goats Cheese at the awards. She also won an Irish Food Writers’ Guild Award and the Farmhouse Cheesemaker of the Year award.

Helen enjoys all things food and cooking for her family and three children. When not immersed in food, she dreams of the becoming a Domestic Goddness – some day soon, when the organised person inside a disorganised gal breaks free!

All products can be bought in the farm shop at Knockdrinna Farm House Cheese, Stoneyford – www.knockdrinna.com.

Olivia Goodwillie, Lavistown Sausages

Lavistown Sausages are produced by Olivia Goodwillie at Lavistown House on the banks of the River Nore in County Kilkenny. Lavistown House celebrates its 202nd birthday this year and has been running creative living courses for the past 30 years.

Initially, Olivia and her husband Roger Goodwillie focused their energies on producing Lavistown Cheese, which was taken over by Helen Finnegan of Knockdrinna. They turned their attention to producing a variety of fine gourmet sausages. After many evenings spent experimenting around the kitchen table with a glass or two of wine, they hit on a winning recipe! Using 100% Irish pork, and using no fillers of additives, they produce garlic, chilli, breakfast, and delicious fennel Italian style sausages.

Lavistown Sausages are available at various outlets including Shortis Wong’s, The Gourmet Store, Kilkenny Design, Knockdrinna Farm Shop in Stoneyford, and Eurospar. They are also available at Café Sol and Sol Bistro, Kilkenny Design, Marble City Bar and The Waterside in Graiguamanagh. Lavistown Sausages has twice won the Irish Food Writers’ Guild Award in 2002 and 2008.

Olivia enjoys teaching cooking, gardening and practising yoga – nourishment for the soul! Lavistown is currently revamping its school facilities, scheduled for January 2013. In the meantime they are still running courses and will have a mushroom hunt course on October 13. Lavistown House, Kilkenny, Ireland – www.lavistownhouse.ie.

Joy Moore, Oldtown Hill Bakehouse

Where did it all begin for Joy Moore of Oldtown Hill Bakehouse? She began her bakery venture as a means to use up surplus fresh milk from the family farm in 1999. The Oldtown Hill Bakery, based on the family farm in the rolling Slieveardagh Hills of Kilkenny, has grown successfully ever since with a range of products including a delicious range of breads, cakes and other baked goods.

Joy recently expanded the business to include the production of home-made donuts, Dolly’s Donuts, which have been going down a treat nationwide. The bakery supplies to Supervalu, Spars and Eurospars all over Leinster and is looking forward to supplying Dunnes Stores by Halloween 2012. Not alone does the business employ 18 full-time staff but it has also won two Great Taste Awards and a County Enterprise Award. Joy Moore was the only woman out of eight finalist at Dublin Castle for the County Enterprise Awards.

Joy’s other passions are singing, gardening and her hens. She doesn’t have much time for other hobbies with four children, but watching their hobbies is a hobby enough!

Oldtown Hill Bakehouse, Tullaroan is open seven days a week. For more information, see www.oldtownhill.ie.