MasterChef critic praises ABC area as ‘Food Heartland’

Food critic Charles Campion with Michele Shirlow (Chief Executive of Food NI), Stephen Bill (Tourism NI), Debbie Johnston (DARD) and Sarah-Jane Macdonald at the recent Food Heartland Forum meeting in Craigavon.
Food critic Charles Campion with Michele Shirlow (Chief Executive of Food NI), Stephen Bill (Tourism NI), Debbie Johnston (DARD) and Sarah-Jane Macdonald at the recent Food Heartland Forum meeting in Craigavon.

Food critic, Charles Campion, described local produce as ‘spectacular’ at the latest Food Heartland Forum meeting in Craigavon Civic Centre.

The ‘Food Heartland’ (so-called because of the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon region’s abundance of specialist artisan food and drink producers) is one of the key growth areas for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

The Food Heartland Forum, funded by DARD Regional Food Programme, provides a unique platform for council to work closely with agri-food businesses and various support bodies to drive the local agri-food sector forward.

Working with Food NI, Tourism NI, and local event organisers, the Forum is preparing producers and the hospitality industry to champion local produce for NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with the aim of enhancing the tourism experience and expanding local agri-food exports.

Speaking at the most recent meeting, food critic Charles Campion said: “The key to building on the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016 is to surprise people and continually exceed expectations. Attitudes to food are changing and improving, but the secret recipe for good food is to keep it simple – good food cannot be too simple.”

Praising the quality of NI produce, Campion continued: “The produce here in Northern Ireland is spectacular. You have a huge range of breads unknown outside NI, as well as good butter, and fantastic meat.”

Food Heartland Forum meetings are held quarterly and attended by local producers and interested bodies such as SRC, Tourism NI and other support bodies.

To get involved with the Food Heartland Forum or for more information, please contact 028 38 312 572 or email sarahjane.macdonald@armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk.