Local food, drink and hospitality businesses and individuals are celebrating after securing success in the biennial Food Heartland awards, proving again that the region deserves its enviable reputation for excellence and innovation.
The Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon area is already making a big name for itself at home and away for the quality of its ingredients, food provenance and award-winning artisan produce – and is still celebrating after confirming its place as a top five foodie destination in Ireland.
After an unprecedented number of entries and a shortlist of 12 category awards, nine businesses came out on top after a rigorous judging process by chef, writer and broadcaster Paula McIntyre MBE and culinary expert Noel McMeel, Executive Chef of Lough Erne Resort.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s Food Heartland Awards, in association with Power NI, took place at The Palace Demesne, Armagh with special guest Jean-Christophe Novelli.
Included in the awards were locals James Gracey of Quail’s Butchers, Dromore, receiving the coveted Rising Star award, sponsored by Southern Regional College as well as Harnett’s Oils from Banbridge Road, Waringstown who were joint winners of the Sustainability Award with Yellow Door, Portadown Ltd, sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. And finally Best Independent Retail Food Business Award, sponsored by Ulster Tatler Group, went to Quails Fine Foods from Newry Street, Banbridge.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Cllr Julie Flaherty said: “Our Food Heartland Awards represent an important showcase of quality, innovation and outstanding taste for all our businesses – both large and small – and for those individuals who help to power our flourishing food-focused region.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone on their achievements and to everyone involved, to thank them for their efforts, their skills, passion and drive to succeed locally, nationally and internationally.”
Lord Mayor Julie Flaherty added: “Our borough is home to a wealth of high quality food and drink as well as world-renowned products with protected status including Armagh Bramley Apples and Lough Neagh Eels and I’m delighted that everyone involved in this important sector are now receiving the recognition they deserve.”
Alan Egner, Commercial Sales and Marketing Manager from key sponsor Power NI said: “We are delighted to sponsor of the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Food Heartland Awards 2018. This is a fantastic initiative which has a huge connection with many of our customers in the agri-food sector in this region. The awards have been a great opportunity for us to show our support to this vibrant and innovative sector. We would like to congratulate all the winners in achieving their well-deserved success”