If three is a magic number the third Westport Food Festival, which was launched this week, will put a spell on food enthusiasts young and old. Taking place from September 6 - 8, the community-based programme of events includes many new and some old favourites, with something for every pocket and palate.
The Westport Food Festival and Mayo County Enterprise have partnered up again this year to see the return of Recipes for Success, the Business of Food which will take place on the opening day of the festival – Friday September 6 in Hotel Westport. Food writer and expert John McKenna will host the half-day event which will comprise an open debate and workshop. The theme is “Articulating a Food Vision for Mayo” and the objective of the event, according to organisers, is to create a legacy for the Westport Food Festival that will benefit the county. The event is open to businesses and individuals with an interest in food. Further details will be announced separately.
A Best of Westport Tasting Tour has been specially created for this year’s festival. The bespoke culinary tour, led by passionate local food expert Siobhan Foody, will take in favourite food haunts using independent insider knowledge to feast on the best Westport has to offer. Participants will get to sample delicious food and wine with a backstage pass to local food highlights.
Tying in with the trend in craft beers, there will be a craft beer and local food pairing event in association with Westport’s newest craft beer company, West Mayo Brewery. Staying on a drinks theme, mixologist Owen Hughes from Knockranny House Hotel – winner of Ireland’s Finest Call Five Star Cocktail Competition – will headline a Covey Cocktails demo at the quay on Sunday.
The West Bar, winners of the All-Ireland Chowder Cook Off for 2013 and 2012, will throw down the gauntlet and host The Chowder Challenge where would-be challengers are invited to match and even better the award-winning formula. The winner will be decided by public vote on the day.
Outdoor and food enthusiasts will have both interests catered to with a Gourmet Greenway Picnic along the Great Western Greenway, linking the landscape and foods of the area. The Octagon is the location once again for the Festival Food Village while Fringe Foodies, featuring local food producers, returns to the clock tower offering demos, sampling, and some food forums. Participants include: Redmond Cabot, Red’s Sauces; Andrew Pelham-Burn, Carrowholly Cheese; Eddie O’Malley, and Eddies Pork; Paddy Mac Donnell, Local Source; Nora McDonnell Fudge; Kate O'Conner Kennedy, Killary Shellfish; Sean O'Grady, Clew Bay fish; Croagh Patrick beer brewers; Terry Fitzpatrick, Mayo Cupcakes; Lilly Ryder, farmer and food producer; and the Westport Country Markets bakers.
The Festival Barbecue will take place at the Quay on Sunday September 8 with sideline activities including demos on mussel production in Clew Bay by Padraig Gannon of Croagh Patrick Seafoods and How to Prepare and Smoke Fresh Fish and Meat Products with Doug Priddy from A Shore Thing. Grow Your Own enthusiasts will be interested in Cormac Langan’s talk on Saturday afternoon on Square Foot Gardening – how to grow your own garden in a small space.
Returning by popular demand for a third year is stellar dining event, Come Dine With Me. Hosted by the Wyatt Hotel, the Friday evening event will open with a reception followed by six-course dinner. Westport’s finest chefs have rallied together to work as one team to produce a fine meal that will showcase Mayo’s finest ingredients and producers. The chefing team is: Eoin McDonnell, The Wyatt Hotel; Jose Barosso, Sol Rio; Seamus Commons, Knockranny House; Stephen Fitzmaurice, Hotel Westport; Pat Kelly, Mango’s; Frank Walsh, The West; and Cormac Brady and Leoni Theron, The Mill Times. Master of ceremonies on the night will be Catherine Leyden, the “Odlums Lady” from TV3’s Ireland AM who will preside over several events over the festival weekend, including the Westport Tourism Dessert Competition. Entrants will be required to create a quality dessert that reflects Westport and its environs. An industry panel of expert judges, including Catherine, will choose a winning entry
Other events scheduled for the Westport Food Festival include mushroom foraging in Knockranny Woods with Louie Smith from GMIT and outdoor foodie clicks at the laneway off Bridge Street.
“The theme for this year’s festival is ‘A Sense of Place’. We are concentrating on the food ingredients, food producers and providers who are unique to Mayo and the local chefs that bring these foods to life in one great showcase weekend,” said Sinead Lambert Barroso, chairperson, Westport Food Festival and proprietor of Sol Rio restaurant.