Food fair gives producers a chance to reach out to new customers

LISTOWEL Food Fair is all about providing a platform for new producers to reach a potential customer base, while embracing the good old fashioned quality taste of fine food. This was certainly highlighted in Listowel over the weekend, through the various awards being presented as part of the festival.

A mid Cork dairy producer, who has been In business for only three months, was announced as the overall winner of the Best Emerging Food Product Award sponsored by Kerry County Enterprise Board. Ned McCarthy from Kilnamartyra near Macroom won the top prize and he said winning it will greatly help him develop his strained yoghurt to the point that he may be able to put a label on the product jar.

The winners in other categories included: Joseph Daly, Valentia Island (Dairy Category); Robert Tormey, Lisduff, Co Tipperary (Meat & Fish); Ildiko Bajzat, Irremore, Listowel (Bakery) and Marie Charland, Ballydavid (Condiments).

Listowel Food Fair, in conjunction with Bord Bia, also compiled a competition for secondary school students, to raise awareness of the Bord Bia Quality Mark and what it means.

"The students have shown very clearly how they understand what the Quality Mark means and what products produced in their own area carry the mark," said Theresa Brophy from Bord Bia, who presented the prizes to students representing schools from Kerry, Cork and Limerick. "They have been very innovative in showing how to promote the Quality Mark through a website and every year the standard goes up and up and we're delighted to be involved in it."

The winners in Category One were Alison Healy and Rebecca McGuinness from Hazelwood College with the Category Two title going to Catherine Carmody from Presentation Listowel. Catherine enjoyed an opportunity to assist Celebrity Chef Martin Shanahan in cooking one of his dishes on Thursday night.

Not for the first time, the Home Baker of the Year Award went to Nora Sheehan from Listowel whose chocolate biscuit cake was again a winner with the judges.The Queens of the Cup Cakes were: 1st Jessica Roche (13), 2nd Tara O'Donnell (15) – both from Hazelwood College Dromcollagher and 3rd Sarah Mulvihill (14) from St Joseph's School in Ballybunion.

Meanwhile, 28 year old Sophie Morris has become the youngest ever winner of the Kerrygold Listowel Food Fair Book of the Year competition. The Dublin-based author and entrepreneur, who was presented with her title by the Minster of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, won the award with her debut cookbook "Sophie Kooks – Quick and Easy Feel-good Food".

The prize includes a trip to Chicago where Sophie will meet with Kerrygold's marketing team to hear how the firm markets its Irish dairy products

in America.