O'Neill's streak ahead to bring home bacon awards
An Enniscorthy company has streaked ahead with a double win in the Great Taste Awards.
O'Neill's Dry Cure Bacon won two top awards in the international food competition for its best-known products Dry Cured Rashers and Dry Cured Streaky Bacon.
The company is the only competitor from Ireland and the U.K. to have ever won an award for streaky bacon.
O'Neills produce a range of dry cured bacon which is cured by hand for three weeks using a unique family recipe .Natural sea salt is used in the curing process to enhance the flavour of the pork.
The recipe uses 30% less salt with no added water or phosphates.
Company director Pat O' Neill set up the company in 2005 and was inspired by a personal rasher frying experience.
One morning he was frying up standard wet cured rashers for breakfast and when he went back to the pan he felt like shouting 'who took my rashers?'
The bacon slices had shrunk to about half their original size and Pat thought most households in Ireland must be similarly frustrated.
The Enniscorthy man had worked in the bacon business for over 13 years and realised there was an opportunity for a traditional range of bacon products.
He decided to start his own dry curing business, selling the products initially at farmers' markets.
Eight years later, the O' Neill's range is now sold in over 80 supermarkets, food stores and farmers' markets around the country and is also supplied to top hotels such as Kelly's in Rosslare, Monart, Mount Juliet and the Morrisson.
Winning the Great Taste Awards is the icing on the cake.
'We are just delighted that two of our most popular products have won international awards,' said Pat.
'The feedback from the judges is consistent with what our customers tell us every day.'
'They loved the taste and the fact that the rashers don't shrink on the pan and are not too salty,' he said.
This is the first year that O'Neill's entered the Great Taste Awards.
The Great Taste judging panel is made up of top chefs, cookery writers, food critics, restaurateurs and fine food retailers.
The judges blind taste the entries and and are not shown any packaging that might influence them.
Each winning product will have been tasted by at least 16 judges who must unanimously agree that it has the 'wow' factor'.
The Great Taste Awards established in 1994, is the biggest and most prestigious accreditation scheme for artisan food producers.