In recent months the Foodie Destination 2018 nominees were carefully whittled down to just ten entrants. The finalists included Irish hot spots such as Armagh’s Food Heartland and Galway Gastronomy and at an event in Lisnavagh House on Wednesday 29th of August, it was finally announced that Kilkenny has been happily named Foodie Destination of the Year 2018.
Each year Foodie Destinations’ judges look tirelessly for a winner that actively promotes itself through food festivals, gourmet trails or farmers’ markets, as well as great dining experiences for locals and visitors alike. 2018 judges noted that Kilkenny has developed an eclectic and diverse food and tourism offering which includes top quality gastro pub food, a wide range of Irish and international food offerings and even Michelin star restaurants.
Some of their enhanced food offerings include food trails, whiskey tasting nights, producer visits, cooking classes and distillery and brewery tours. Along with these attractions, Kilkenny has built on their new Dig a Little Deeper campaign which aims to encourage visitors to stay longer in the destination and highlights the restaurants which are considered the hidden gems of Kilkenny. This in combination with the #TasteKilkenny brand has been pivotal in the development of the county’s online presence. Judges were particularly impressed with the installation of an interactive touch screen search facility in the city centre, aimed at assisting visitors and locals alike in discovering what Kilkenny has to offer.
Judges further found that several community events are based on the preparation of food such as the Kilkenny Solidarity Dinners which bring people together from places far and wide to experience local dishes to those native communities and Kilkenny Africa Day where locals get to experience African food produced by new residents to the area. The end of Ramadan in Kilkenny is also rather impressively marked with a community meal and celebration with the Bangladesh community at the Kilkenny mosque.
With regard to future plans, the destination is considering promoting the local food and dining experience through videos to be shown in all local hotels for the visitor to enjoy and view. They are also aiming to develop a ‘Breakfast Award’ to create an awareness of the need for better breakfast dishes to be served in hotels and eateries in the region.
Along with the Foodie Destination award, this year’s competition also introduced a Foodie Town award, which was proudly given to the town of Kinsale in County Cork. Kinsale Good Food Circle, established in the early 70s, has been a collaboration of a number of restaurateurs and producers over many years. Through this collaboration, the Kinsale story has evolved and the the town now offers over 60 eateries within five minutes from the town centre.
In a recent study conducted by Kinsale Chamber, food was the number one attraction for people who visited Kinsale and the reason they would return. Over the years, Kinsale has reinvented itself to reflect market trends in food and keep pace with the ever-changing marketplace, while always resetting the bar, where visitors each time they visit, are blown away with the quality, variety and overall food experience and creativity. With the addition of Kinsale Gourmet Academy Cookery School and Suzanne’s Kinsale Food Tours in recent years, the Food experience has been brought to life in a form that is accessible to all.
Liam Edwards, President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland commented on the competition saying, “Finalists, we share in your passion for quality Irish food and hospitality, and with your help, our dream is to make Ireland a go-to destination for food tourism. The high standard of applications this year was incredible – it is clear that our small island already has so much to offer in terms of foodie experiences, from land to sea, which is growing every year. You are the people driving this and spreading the message. You are here today to represent your region after all the hard work you have done in the last couple of months, and long before that too.”
Patrick Carey, Business Development Manager at FBD Insurance said: “FBD Insurance is proud to sponsor the Foodie Destinations award again in 2018. We are delighted to be associated with an event that supports the agri food industry, local businesses and community spirit. As Ireland’s only indigenous insurer, based in the same communities as these amazing destinations, we see, every day, the passion and pride displayed by these destinations and this competition is a fantastic way to highlight the great work that they do. I would like to congratulate Kilkenny as the winner of Foodie Destinations 2018, Kinsale as Foodie Town of the Year and all the finalists on their outstanding efforts in this competition.”