“It’s been a Riverdance moment for Irish food”
Over 22,000 attendants from across the world were fed the best of Irish food at the Web Summit in Dublin this week, and the reaction from the crowd was something quite special, writes Ciara Leahy.
As Darina Allen buttered bread at the final lunch of the Web Summit on Thursday, she spoke encouragingly to the crowds. “Make sure to taste some of our fantastic Irish butter.” When a young tecchie attendee from America told her he would have his bread without butter, he was practically scolded. “But our butter is simply fantastic, you have to try it.” He didn’t require much more encouragement and walked away smiling, Irish bread and butter consumed in two bites.
For most attendees however, no encouragement was needed as the array of produce offered by Good Food Ireland at the Food Summit throughout the three days was quite spectacular, an impressive showcase of what our country has to offer.
“It really has been a Riverdance moment for Irish food,” says Margaret Jeffares, Founder and CEO of Good Food Ireland. “There are complete misconceptions of Irish food. However, between attendants, guests and media, there have been over 50,000 people here this week eating all the Irish food they could possibly taste, and we feel like we’ve been making a dent in righting those wrongs. People are realising we’re not just bacon and cabbage and stews. Our charcuterie plates can stand up with the best in the world and there has been a real buzz about the quality of our Irish lamb as well as our cheese.”
After the attendees have finished their hot and cold lunches, they were treated to a plethora of desserts. A lady approaches Valerie Kingston of Glenilen Farm asking, “Do you have any of your Passion Fruit panna cotta from yesterday.” When Valerie explains that today the option is their Zesty Lemon Cheesecake, she doesn’t seem to be too disappointed and quickly grabs a tub of that instead. “We’re not here to get into the export market. Instead, it’s a showcase that we’re really proud to be involved in.”
The Food Summit culminated in a Good Food Ireland Hall of Fame event last night where over 1,500 people toasted the closure of the event surrounded by more Irish food than you could even sample. From the most delicious pastrami from McCarthys of Kanturk, Bantry Bay scallops, crunchy bread from Bretzel Bakery in Dublin and ice-cream from Glastry Farm in Co Down, these were just the tip of the iceberg of the feast that was on offer. There were queues of people with Waterford Blaas in their hand, queuing up as Peter Ward of Country Choice carved some tasty ham.
Although there were plenty of big names at the event including An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, T.D. and Rowley Leigh, acclaimed UK chef and journalist, the real guests of honour were the Web Summit attendees who travelled from across the world.
Irish Country Living overheard many foreign accents exclaiming, “have you tried those scallops” or “you simply have to get some of this ice-cream.” Mileens cheese was going down quite a treat as was the chargrilled Irish beef.
Fingers crossed that the RDS give the go ahead to get the wifi sorted for next year so that Paddy Cosgrave does not even think about carrying out his threat to move the Web Summit to another country. This is an event that we simply cannot lose, given its impact on food tourism in Dublin and Ireland.
The Food Summit in numbers
Wifi at the Web Summit
On a separate note, co-founder of the Web Summit and farmer’s son Paddy Cosgrave spoke vehemently on Thursday about the quality (or lack thereof) of wifi in the RDS, threatening to take the event to another country if the venue didn’t allow them to outsource internet services to a third party.
However, since Paddy’s outburst on stage, the organisers have issued a joint statement stating that they will work together to resolve the issue next year.
Paddy, seeing as your threat got such a reaction, any chance you can do something about the broadband in rural Ireland? What the attendants of the Web Summit experienced over the three days of the event is an everyday reality for those living in rural Ireland.