Slow Food Causeway and Taste Causeway Members scooped five out of 10 prestigious Slow Food Northern Ireland Awards last week.
The awards were held on Friday December 10 in a night of celebration as local businesses across Northern Ireland were recognised for their dedication to deliver quality and sustainable food products and fulfilling the movement’s vision of a good, clean and fair food society.
Created seven years ago in London, the acclaimed Slow Food awards are best known for being “truly democratic” due to no prior shortlisting and decision only by public vote except for the Person of the Year, which is chosen solely by the regional director for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Out of the 10 regional awards, five Slow Food Causeway members (who are also members of Taste Causeway) were successful including Best Butcher which went to Corndale Farm in Limavady, Best Baker for Ursa Minor in Ballycastle, Best Fishmonger went to Native Seafood based in Portstewart, while Best Deli or Grocer was awarded to Warkes Deli, also in Portstewart and Veal Charcuterie at Broughgammon Farm was given the Champion Slow Food Product.
Speaking of the awards, Director for Slow Food Northern Ireland, Paula McIntyre said: “It’s a delight to see the public vote recognise the wonderful Slow Food producers and retailers in the region of Northern Ireland, and, in particular, the Causeway Coast and Glens.
“Coupled with the launch of Slow Food Causeway and the six month series of Slow Food launch events and experiences, these awards, across five of of the 10 categories, are further recognition of the commitment of everyone involved in Slow Food Causeway to the global Slow Food movement”.
Slow Food Causeway also celebrates Northern Ireland’s unique culinary heritage with indigenous breeds, fish from loughs, world class produce and progressive artisans contributing to the agri-food sector in the province.
Shane Holland, Executive Chairman of Slow Food in the UK said the awards were important for bringing increased trade to the area.
He added: “We know how important these awards are – both to the producers and businesses but also shoppers alike.
“These awards matter to the winners, many of whom experience a large increase in business, and some previous winners have gained new retail opportunities on their wins”.
Charlie Cole from Broughgammon Farm near Ballycastle is a founding member of the Taste Causeway Collaborative Network picked up the Champion Slow Food Product award for his rose veal salami.
Charlie and his family have been advocates of forward thinking, regenerative farming techniques, utilising the waste of the dairy industry in the form of veal calves and kid goats.
The farm runs an on-site nose to tail butchery, farm cafe and shop, online meat boxes, monthly supper clubs and artisan workshops.
Charlie said: “The rose veal salami was a product born out of necessity, as a result of consumers not being more conscientious about nose to tail eating.
“It embodies everything we believe in, nose to tail eating, collaborating with other similar minded, small, independent local family farmers and producers… and it’s delicious as a result”.
The Best Baker Award went to Ursa Minor Bakehouse in Ballycastle for the second year in a row.
Ciara O HArtghaile said she was “delighted” to be collecting the award: ““Since 2014 we have been pioneering a local, seasonal approach to food here on the Causeway Coast. We are committed to the suppliers on our doorstep and across this island and encourage the need to question food provenance and quality.
“We promote the use of beautiful produce in innovative ways and work with farmers and growers locally to give our community the best quality, honest and most delicious food we can”
Best Fishmongers was awarded to Native Seafood. After receiving the accolade, owner Rebekah Mc Carry said the business has plans to expand their efforts in the new year,
“Our plan is to continue growing our supply network, expanding on the best of ethical producers that we already work with like Foyle Bia Mara and Carlingford oysters so once we have winter behind us, we will plan on installing a proper fish counter to add to the whole experience and we can’t wait to share it with our valued customers, both local and visitors.”
All fish not sold through the fishmongers is used for Native’s restaurant menu which results in zero wastage, something Rebekah is extremely proud of.
She added: “We are over the moon to be recognised as Best Fishmongers in Northern Ireland. Our ethos has always been to provide sustainably sourced Irish seafood, filling the gap between local fishermen and the public.”
The award for Best Deli or Grocer went to Warkes Deli in Portrush. Owner Jacqui Warke said the ethos of the Slow Food Movement has “been integral” to what Warkes Deli have done since they opened in 2011.
Jacqui added that the business continually strives to “highlight the marvellous produce on our doorstep”.
“We are a family business combining deli, cafe, supper clubs, outside catering and hampers as well as producing our own products. Since opening we have constantly believed in cooking and baking fresh, nutritious, seasonal food using great local ingredients, showcasing our amazing local producers stocking great local cheeses, charcuterie, chutneys, oils and coffee to name but a few.
“Key to our culture is to collaborate with other local like-minded food champions and this has proven to be both rewarding and great fun.”
To celebrate their accreditation as a Slow Food destination, Taste Causeway, the collaborative network of local food and drink businesses who was awarded the accolade by the global Slow Food Movement following a rigorous assessment process is hosting a calendar of events right up to the end of March 2022.
The events programme will showcase the Slow Food ethos dedicated to supporting local artisan producers as well as spreading awareness of local food traditions and culture.
Sharon Scott from Taste Causeway who are delivering Slow Food Causeway with funding from Tourism NI in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said: “Taste Causeway is one of only a handful of accredited Slow Food destinations in Ireland to be awarded the accolade by the global Slow Food Movement.
“Slow Food was initially founded by a group of activists in Italy during the 1980s with the aim of defending regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life but has since grown into a global movement involving millions of people, in over 150 countries that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to the community and the environment. We at Taste Causeway are proud to become part of this global food movement.”
For further information on Slow Food Causeway go to tastecauseway.com/slow-food-causeway.