By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 30 March, 2018

From representing Ireland at the Miniature Pinxtos World Congress in the Basque Region, facilitating at The World Butcher’s Challenge, mentoring at IFEX and now the Irish Restaurant Awards – it’s been a busy old time for our members working in the catering sector in Northern Ireland.

It’s been a busy few weeks for Live It Experience It members from competitions to awards shortlists.

Chefs, butchers, restaurants and pubs have been pulling their weight to showcase what Northern Ireland has to offer in terms of food and drink.

It all kicked off a few weeks ago when we announced the highly respected Chef Robert Curley of the Slemish Market Supper Club made his way to the Basque Region to represent Ireland at the world famous congress, Miniature Pinxtos.

Chef Rob Curley at Miniature Pinxtos in the Basque Region

The packed programme of activities included a range of talks, cookery demonstrations, dinners, competitions and recreational activities. There were also initiatives such as Minature Iron Chef and Minature Kids as well as The Biggest Bar in the World of Pinxtos where 50 Pinxtos champions all cooked together.

Chef Robert Curley brought along a taste of Northern Ireland – the Lough Neagh Eel and Lough Neagh Pollan. During Congress, he showed off his own version of tapas (Pinxtos) using these special ingredients from the shores of Lough Neagh.

And, now on his return, he is delighted to find out too that The Slemish Market Supper Club has been nominated and shortlisted for County Antrim in the Irish Restaurant Awards for the following;

Next up was The World Butcher’s Challenge which was held this month, in Northern Ireland, for the first time.

Twelve countries competed in The World Butcher’s Challenge (WBC). The challenge was to create the best looking butcher’s counter in the world. Butchers were judged on their finesse, quality, speed, and, according to WBC organiser Rhonda Montgomery, all the meat had to be used or they would have lost points and the winners of the competition were then deemed as the best butchers in the world.

Chef Dean Coppard

Live It Experience It member, Chef Dean Coppard, otherwise known to many as Aussie Chef Dino, has been out of the kitchen to be the Live Theatre Manager at The World Butcher’s Challenge. Dean was commentating at the event and on live streams so people around the world knew what was going on. He was busy introducing the teams who travelled across the globe while facilitating the turnaround process so the 12 teams were managed seamlessly through from the morning heats to the afternoon heats.

But hot on the heels of the WBC was IFEX 2018 – Northern Ireland’s premier showcase of the latest food and drink products, catering equipment, interiors, technology and services to the food, retail and hospitality industries.

Dean Coppard mentored a team of chefs from Molly’s Mill in Laurencestown. Chef David Magee got Bronze and Third in Class. The team also competed in the Cook -Serve Competition in a Live Theatre in memory of one of the president of NI Association of Chefs and Cooks, Tony Hughes. This was a team event involving two chefs, mentored by Dean, and one front of house. They cooked and served three courses plus a cheese board and were delighted to win Gold and Best in Class. Chef Max Buller entered Junior Chef of the Year and came away with Silver and Second in Class.

And, of course, next to focus on for Dean is his nomination and shortlisting for Best Chef for Co Down in the Irish Restaurant Awards 2018.

And one restaurant, which is consistent in its customer service, customer loyalty and quality cooking, has also received notification this week about being shortlisted in the Irish Restaurant Awards.

Digby's Bar and Restaurant owner Michael Macklin

This is one bar and restaurant which truly demonstrates the resilience of the country pub -Digby’s Bar & Restaurant in Killylea, Co Armagh.

This is a pub which has survived World Wars and recessions. It’s a pub which is proud of its heritage and traditional offering and, in spite of difficult trading times, this is a bar and restaurant which continues to grow from strength to strength.

And this week, it has found out it has been shortlisted for the following categories in County Armagh;

Feel free to show these guys some love and share their story. A huge congratulations to everyone.

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.