BOOKINGS for various events in the Taste of West Cork Food Festival are well up on last year, with some venues considering additional events to meet demand, according to Fiona Field, who has helped co-ordinate the 140 events being staged in West Cork from 4-13th September.
‘I’ve checked with several venues to see how they are getting on and the response has been very gratifying. They are reporting solid interest, from locals and from outside the area, and here at the festival we’ve received enquiries from the UK and Europe early on. In fact, we’ve had conversations with people from Tennessee and Canada,’ remarked Fiona.
‘Our marketing strategy has paid off, and the programme is freely available in the region and nationally. We have undertaken a tightly focused campaign, and our buses and media partnership with C103 are generating interest. The festival has been dubbed ‘Ireland’s largest Food Festival’ and we have no quibble with that – where else would 32 towns and villages (and eight islands) collaborate together like this?’
Bookings are ‘buoyant’ in places such as Bandon, which has its West Cork Platter Lunch specials at the Duchess Tea Rooms, while in Clonakilty, BIM’s Seafood Workshop is creating a stir.
The Sugán Restaurant has had a great response for their plans to offer free samples food stalls and expos and a demonstration with a chef who worked alongside Michelin Star chef Marco Pierre White, for which bookings are almost full.
Richy’s Restaurant still has availability for its battle for the ‘Best in the West’ with guest chefs, while guest chef Diana Dodog, winner of Masterchef 2014, presents her ‘passion on a plate’ at the ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ luxury Dunowen House in Ardfield.
Baan Sujittra’s Taste of Thailand evening is booking up fast and they are reporting good interest in bookings on other dates.
Meanwhile, in Skibbereen, the West Cork Hotel reception has taken quite a few bookings for the festival and for the two special dinners and the Southern Star/West Fork Business Breakfast that they are hosting.
Again in Skibbereen, Regina Daly from The Church Restaurant says her ‘From the Land and Shores of West Cork’ dinner with Michelin-starred chef JP McMahon on September 10th is sold out, and she expects bookings on days either side of this to be even up on last year.
Annie May’s (Skibbereen) ‘Traditional Sunday Lunch’ has quite a number of bookings and Field’s Supervalu will yet again host several events throughout the festival, including guest chef Carmel Somers, who will bring goodies from her Good Things Café in Durrus for a special event on Friday 4th.
Schull is flying the flag with their country market on Saturday 5th, and there’s great excitement (and bookings!) for Three Generations Gastronomy Tasting Menu when Katarina and Nico of Grove House join with Slow Food West Cork for an eight-course mouth-watering tasting menu.
There is also huge interest in the workshops being put on by Organico café in Bantry, while the Seafood and Wine pairing evening at the nearby Maritime Hotel has five-six tables booked already. Over at The Stuffed Olive, they’re busy preparing for a delicious West Cork Buffet on September 5th.
Arundel’s by the Pier in Ahakista is getting a terrific response to their Taste of the Sea banquet, while the Three Castle Head’s Moroccan Evening near Barleycove is tickling the taste-buds big time, with bookings almost closed!
The Lookout Restaurant & The Waterfront in Baltimore are hosting a pig on the pit on September 6th and The Mews Restaurant in Baltimore are fully booked for their Guest Chef event on September 12th. The Belling West Cork Food Awards at the Sailing Club in Baltimore is close to a sell-out also, with great excitement surrounding the possible winners.
On the activities front, West Cork Catch and Cook Experience in Union Hall has three out of 10 places booked so far, while the special West Cork Whale Watching trip is fully booked with a fine cancellation list which may turn into an added date, while Micheal Cottrell’s Ilen River Cruise out of Baltimore is a winner all right.
The 32 towns and villages and eight islands involved are Ahakista
Ahillies, Ballydehob, Ballylickey, Baltimore, Bandon, Bantry, Castletownbere, Castletownshend, Clonakilty, Coolea, Courtmacsherry, Drimoleague, Dunmanway, Durrus, Glandore, Glengarriff, Goleen, Leap, Lough Hyne, Macroom, Manch, Mizen Head, Ring, Rosscarbery, Schull, Sheep’s Head, Skibbereen (the heart of the festival), Timoleague, Union Hall, Bere Island, Cape Clear Dursey Island, Fastnet Rock, Garinish Island, Heir Island, Sherkin Island and Whiddy Island.
For listings see www.atasteofwestcork.com; or pick up a programme which is widely available.