Savour Kilkenny food festival hailed as best ever

This year’s Savour Kilkenny food festival was the best on record – with 2,510 people supporting ticketed events over the five days.

A record-breaking 7,800 food lovers visited the market on the parade on Saturday, and despite showers and a dip in temperature, another 6,000 turned up on Sunday. It all made it the best ever Savour for Kilkenny.

Even John McKenna of the Bridgestone Guide acknowledged that Kilkenny has mastered the art of hosting a food festival, which is both inclusive and appealing. When it comes to food culture, other festival towns and cities can’t hold a candle to Kilkenny, he said, as he joined up to 20,000 people in the heart of the busy city over the weekend.

“Savour Kilkenny is by the people, for the people,” he said.

“It’s not dropped from the sky. It is run by volunteers who are passionate about food. It is easy to start a festival but not so easy to keep one going and the sixth year of this festival has been the best yet.

“Savour has really put Kilkenny on the food map, as has the development of a fantastic Food Trail. This is a real recipe for future success for Kilkenny,” he added.

“This is a city and a county where food people all collaborate, work together rather than in competition. It truly is the shining star in Ireland.

Local heroes

This was the first year that Savour Kilkenny applauded its ‘Local Food Heroes’ by honouring and recognising their achievements and innovation. Julie Calder Potts of Highbank Organic Orchards was crowned Savour Kilkenny Food Producer of the Year and presented with a specially-commissioned piece of pottery by Bridge Pottery.

Julie received the award for her organic orchard syrup. The Kilkenny company also recently launched its first ever driver’s cider.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with this award,” she said.

“We’re continuously innovating, trying out new things and this award recognises all that hard work. We’re passionate about what we do and what we produce and this award is an amazing vote of confidence in all that we do and produce.”

Over the past four days of Savour, over 400 children from local schools took part in an agri-walk. A further 400 learnt about healthy eating and how to prepare healthy meals with celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio.

Forty young producers hosted stands and sold their produce in a local Young Food Producers market and among the many famous faces cooking up a storm under the banner of ‘Homegrown and Wholesome’ were Kevin Dundon, Rozanne Stevens and Rory O’Connell as well as Kilkenny chefs Edward Hayden and Anne Neary.

The centrepiece of the festival was the tented food village on the Parade, which featured artisan producers and stall-holders selling and offering samples of foods from around the globe.

The crowds were really drawn by the market on the parade where crowds enjoyed sampling everything from buffalo burgers to chilli-flavoured cheese, kangaroo skewers to craft beers from the region.

Twenty cafes, hotels and restaurants all conjured up festive Savour menus – among these a re-enactment of the Titanic menu in the stunning setting of the Rivercourt Hotel.

Young chefs

Kilkenny’s young chefs also had an opportunity to demonstrate their ability in the kitchen, showing great creativity and passion in the Savour Kilkenny Festival of Food Young Chefs competition.

The competition was intense again this year and the chefs really showed an amazing amount of talent. The task was to check out Kilkenny’s Artisan Food Heroes and submit a recipe, either sweet or savoury, using as many of the local Food Heroes’ ingredients as possible.

The judges, Lucy Smyth and Antonia Battoni, chose five finalists and then asked them to prepare their dishes. The presentation of all the entries was fantastic, the judges said, and would not look out of place in any High Street restaurant or cafe.

Finalist Aoife Ni Chorra (14) from Cuffesgrange made black and white cheesecake using white chocolate from Mary Teehan, the Truffle Fairy in Thomastown. The second finalist Moya Millie (13) from Oldrath Road made sweet cider roasted pears and apples using Sarah Gough’s Mileeven Honey and Calderpotts Apples from Highbank Farm.

Third place in the competition went to Kayleigh Ni Nhuallain, 13, from Callan. She made spicy stuffed peppers using Kitty Colchester’s Happy Heart Oil and topped it with Helen Finnegan’s Knockdrinna Cheese. This was a very tasty vegetarian dish served with salsa and sour cream on the side.

Second place went to Doireann Sloyan, 11, from the Weir View, who made Dad’s Fish Parcels using Mags Kirwan’s trout from Goatsbridge Farm and Kitty Colchester’s Happy Heart oil. The presentation of Direann’s dish was “magical”, the judges said and she had a goldfish named ketchup swimming in a little vase in the centre of the seafood medley.

But first place went to Aoife Doherty and Sadbh Brennan, both from Ennisnag who made Granny’s Genius Cupcakes. These were made using Calderpott’s Orchard Syrup to flavour the cupcakes and apples from their biggest food hero, their granny who has been growing apples in Ennisnag for three generations.

The magical cupcakes were filled with pureed apple, topped with delicious frosting and drizzled with Highbank Orchard Syrup. It was wins all round for Highbank as they were crowned local producer of the year in the first ever Savour Kilkenny Food Producer of the Year.