ONE of the showcase events to attend during the Taste of West Cork Food Festival, which kicks off this week, is the West Cork Forum, combining the West Cork Artisan Food Awards.
The awards night, previously known as the Belling Forum and Awards, continues to be sponsored by Sean and Rose O’Driscoll of Drimoleague.
The focus for this year’s Food Forum, which takes place in the afternoon, is ‘West Cork Rising – A Tourism and Development Strategy’.
West Cork enjoys a strategic position along the Wild Atlantic Way and has benefited from the Failte Ireland promotion of that brand, according to the organisers.
The awards will pay tribute to the wonderful variety of artisan foods and the success story that is West Cork food. However, festival organisers believe the region cannot rest on its laurels. ‘There is the need for everyone involved in the tourism industry in West Cork to come together and establish a united vision to promote this unique south western corner of Ireland, and to rise to the challenge of developing new and exciting initiatives to entice visitors, both national and international, to West Cork,’ said chairperson Helen Collins.
‘An integral part of this strategy is to include the wonderful artisan food produced in West Cork.’ Among the guest speakers at the free Forum, which takes place at the Sailing Club in Baltimore on Saturday, September 10th, (2pm-5pm), will be Tim Lucey, CEO of Cork County Council; Niall Gibbons, CEO Tourism Ireland; Sean O’Driscoll, president, Glen Dimplex, and Trish Deseine, acclaimed food writer and author.
Following on from the Forum will be the prestigious West Cork Artisan Food awards dinner, where the menu will showcase the wonderful produce from West Cork. Over 42 local artisan food producers were invited to submit an application for an award to the West Cork Artisan Food Awards committee. Among the previous winners are Skeaghnore Duck, Caherbeg Free Range Pork and Toonsbridge Dairy.
The 2016 West Cork Food Award finalists are: Union Hall Smoked Fish, West Cork Eggs, Mellas Fudge and West Cork Pies.
The winners will be announced on the night.
‘These awards acknowledge the effort, passion, thought and hard work that people put into achieving unique products,’ said sponsor Sean O’Driscoll.
‘Let us all be proud of what is produced in West Cork,’ he added.
The dinner speaker is West Cork native Dee Forbes, newly appointed director general of RTE, the first non-RTÉ appointment in over 50 years.
The West Cork Artisan Food Awards take place at the Baltimore Sailing Club on Saturday 10th September at 6.30pm, and booking is essential via Eventbrite.