8 March by Eleanor McGillie

A CHEF who has made his mark in the culinary scene through his unique Slemish Market Supper Club, is representing Northern Ireland by cooking Lough Neagh Eel at the world famous congress – Minature Pinxtos – which is taking place in Northern Spain over the next week.

Chef Robert Curley, who hit the headlines last year for his unique innovative pop up dining experience, will travel to the Basque Region today (March 8) to compete at Minature Pinxtos Congress which will be held in Vitoria–Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque region.

Rob, who is the only chef to represent Northern Ireland, has over 20 years experience in the restaurant trade, having worked previously in Michelin starred L’Ecrivain and Shanahans On The Green in Dublin, Ireland.

Speaking about the week ahead, Rob said: “I am bringing with me a taste of Northern Ireland – the Lough Neagh Eel. I will be demonstrating my own version of tapas (Pinxtos) using this special ingredient from the shores of Lough Neagh.

“I will be using Lough Neagh Eel and Lough Neagh Pollan amongst other local ingredients from the well known Slemish Market Garden.

“To make the event even more special, I will also be cooking at the gala dinner on March 14 which is called ‘Miniature Pintxo of Northern Ireland, UK and Ireland’. This will give me another opportunity to showcase the fantastic produce we have here in Northern Ireland.”

Chef Rob Curley - Live It Experience It member will represent Northern Ireland at the Minature Pinxtos in the Basque Region of Northern Spain

In 2016, Chef Rob Curley won Ulster Local Food Hero at the Irish Restaurant Awards. In 2017, The Slemish Market Supper Club, which is a member of Live It Experience It, was nominated for Best Local Food Story at the Northern Ireland Food & Drink Awards and also Best Private and Club Dining at the Irish Restaurant Awards in 2017.

Eleanor McGillie, of Live It Experience It, said: “Rob has well and truly made his mark on the creative culinary scene here in Northern Ireland. We have all heard of food provenance but what makes Rob’s offering special is that he sources his produce from over the hedge at the Slemish Market Garden.

“He will do Northern Ireland proud at this highly competitive and world famous congress which brings top professional chefs together and will include the champions tapas (Pinxtos) chefs from last year and the World Pinxto Champion.”

The packed programme of activities will include a range of talks, cookery demonstrations, dinners, competitions and recreational activities. There will be initiatives such as Minature Iron Chef and Minature Kids as well as The Biggest Bar in the World of Pinxtos where 50 Pinxtos champions will be cooking together.

The chef line up for this event is as follows:

Chef Rob Curley: Slemish Market Supper Club, Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Chef Jose Pizzaro: Jose Tapas, London

Chef Gorka Arrieta: Spa Seafoods Restaurant, Tralee, Ireland

Chef Nick Foley: Restaurant Solas, Dingle, Ireland

The fifth annual congress runs from March 8-14.

The Slemish Market Supper Club is a Live It Experience It member. To keep up to date with Rob’s news visit Slemish Market Supper Club Facebook


Live It Experience It’ is a group of journalists and travel writers who tell the story of our members. We work  collaboratively with our members, which are tourism businesses, to promote Northern Ireland through water, air and land based activities, food and drink and great places to stay. Together we let our visitors know of all of the amazing things Northern Ireland has to offer.  To become a member business in of ‘Live It Experience It’ call our office on 028 3756 8436 or please submit your information through our online form. T&Cs apply –  Sign Up Here Let us tell your story! Live It Experience It is the NW200 tourism partner for 2018. 

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Eleanor McGillie

About Eleanor McGillie

Eleanor spent eight years working in the south west of England - one of the UK's most popular tourism hotspots. During her stint working with key players in the tourism sector she developed a love for all things outdoor adventure. As a journalist she got to travel to remote corners of the world to write travel features about the experiences of a particular place. Northern Ireland's story needs to be told and needs to reach new audiences. Live It Experience It aims to attract tourists from outside Ireland, people from Ireland and people who live in Northern Ireland but aren't aware of the extent of the adventures on our own doorsteps.