Today, the finalists were announced in the Cookery Writing Award - a prize we are sponsoring in the new Irish Food Writers Awards. It's been so exciting to see who the judges have picked as the best of Irish Cookery writers this year - Susan Jane White, Lilly Higgins, Paul Flynn, Colm O'Gorman, Kate Ryan and Edward Hayden.
We became involved in these inaugural awards because of their focus on Irish food and Irish journalism - something that hasn't been celebrated thus far. All of these finalists are writers we love to read, and at the core of what they cook and write about are Irish ingredients. This is very much what Ardkeen Quality Food Store is about; working with small producers and farmers to get the best of Irish ingredients to the marketplace. Often these producers are too small to be stocked by large supermarkets or considered too niche. But for us, small batch Irish artisan farmers, growers and makers are exactly the types of businesses we want to support.
Not only are the finalists in this category all champions of local food and drink, many are also from this part of the world!
Edward Hayden is a well-known chef in the South East and lectures in Waterford Institute of Technology, he also appears regularly on TV3 and on KLCR FM. Waterford's own Paul Flynn, chef/owner of the superb award winning restaurant The Tannery in Dungarvan and IT Food & Drink contributor is in the mix. Cork woman Lilly Higgins is not far away as she now lives in Cobh; we particularly love her Instagram recipe videos and her column in The Irish Times, while another finalist Kate Ryan writes for the Cork Echo and is current secretary of the Irish Food Writers Guild. Susan Jane White is the only Dublin-based writer in this category; she writes health focused recipes in the Sunday Independent and has several books under her belt. We wish all of them best of luck in the competition - the winners of which will be announced in mid-September.
The judges tasked with picking the winner are Trish Deseine and Esterelle Payany. Trish is Northern Ireland-born but has spent much of her life in France where she has won an incredible number of awards for her books and food writing in magazines such as French Elle. Esterelle is also a celebrated food writer in France, and also the author of several award-winning books. We don't envy their difficult task.
This is the inaugural year of the Irish Food Writing Awards which have been set up by author, journalist and broadcaster Suzanne Campbell with food publicist Paul O'Connor. Suzanne writes on food and farming issues for Irish newspapers as well as reporting for RTÉ radio and television. "It was on my mind to establish an awards scheme for food writers and this seemed the perfect year to do it. The food sector has had a really difficult time through the pandemic as have journalists and writers, many of whom lost a lot of their work. The main aim was to support writers with something positive and also to build community in the Irish Food sector and it's been absolutely brilliant seeing this happen.
But what was essential to make it work is food companies supporting the awards - this allows us to pay judges, running costs and give our winners get cash prizes. It's been absolutely brilliant so far; we have judges on board from all around the world celebrating Irish food and Irish food writers, and we have entrants and finalists who are so thrilled to be noticed and awarded for their work. So big thanks to businesses like Ardkeen - without your help it simply wouldn't have happened".
The awards will be announced in the second week in September, rest assured Ardkeen Quality Food Store and ardkeen.com will be there to tell you all about it! We are really looking forward to the occasion, meeting all the writers and writers in our category, and taking part in something wonderfully positive for Irish food.
Best of luck to all the finalists!