The Merry Monk in Ballina has been crowned Connacht’s Great Carvery Public House of the Year at the final of the third annual Great Carvery of the Year competition.
Launched in 2010 by Unilever Food Solutions Ireland, Great Carvery of the Year is a nationwide search for Ireland’s best pub and hotel carvery. After a hugely successful first year, the competition was expanded to create two separate categories of winner in 2011: the Great Carvery Public House of the Year and Great Carvery Hotel of the Year. This year saw even more exciting changes as the competition was extended to include Northern Ireland and a public vote was introduced to determine a top three shortlist of Best Pub Carvery and Best Hotel Carvery from each province – Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster.
Following a three-week-long public vote, Unilever Food Solutions’ Business Development Chef Mark McCarthy and his team of mystery shoppers had the tough job of whittling the 24 finalists down to just eight provincial winners and two overall winners.
Irish rugby legend and competition ambassador Tommy Bowe was on hand to present all of this year’s winners with their awards. Speaking at the final, he said: “Looking at all the great pubs and hotels that have made it to the Grand Final it’s clear that Irish chefs – North and South – take their carveries very seriously. When I joined the Great Carvery team this year, I knew that carvery was popular – I’m a big fan myself – but I didn’t realise just how much of an institution it is in Ireland.