Jacinta Dalton, a lecturer in the GMIT College of Tourism and Arts, has been selected by Fáilte Ireland as one of eight new influential food tourism ambassadors, or Food Champions, under the Food Tourism Network Development Programme.
Food Champions are selected for their resounding passion and belief in Irish food and for actively influencing and shaping the future of Irish cuisine and food tourism in their region.
Ms Dalton lectures in food and beverage management in GMIT’s Galway campus and is the only academic among the eight selected 2013 Food Champions. A native of Galway and a graduate of GMIT, she has worked in GMIT’s Department of Culinary Arts since September 2010. She is a member of SKAL Galway and is the co-founder of The Foodie Forum.
Ms Dalton has a strong practitioner background and remains very closely linked with industry. She believes passionately in food education and is an ardent supporter and promoter of local food producers and food businesses. In her free time she has worked with a number of leading national festivals including the Galway Food Festival, the Oyster and Seafood Festival, and Cookery School Live.
Cáit Noone, head of GMIT’s College of Tourism and Arts, nominated Ms Dalton for the national Fáilte Ireland award, saying she was an obvious candidate. “Through her teaching and work she is helping educate the next generation of food producers in Ireland,” Ms Noone said. “Her passion for all things food related is very obvious to the team in GMIT and we delighted the judging panel considered her worthy of this award.”
This year’s food tourism programme focuses on promoting the Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal driving route stretching from the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal to Kinsale in Co Cork and taking in the entire coast of Co Galway.
“We received nominations for many able would-be ambassadors from along the Wild Atlantic Way route,” said Helen McDaid, Fáilte Ireland’s food tourism manager. “Our focus continues to be on emerging food champions who have been working hard in their regions and can now become a part of this network, which will support and guide them as they continue to develop food tourism experiences.”
The eight Fáilte Ireland Food Champions will now travel on a food tourism benchmarking trip to Norway to see first-hand a real-life linkage between a driving route and food tourism. The group will also have the opportunity to meet the people behind a range of food businesses in Norway who are utilising food tourism as part of their development and business generation strategy.
Once the group returns home the focus will be on working together with their local communities to help build Ireland’s food tourism reputation and encourage visitors to stop, spend, and stay longer on the Wild Atlantic Way.