One look at Rory O'Connell's face on Monday morning - the day before Web Summit 2014 kicked off - said it all. There was a lot of work to do! "I hope you brought sensible shoes, and maybe a small bottle of holy water!" he joked. It's a daunting prospect, the task of feeding 22,000+ international delegates from over 100 countries with high expectations; and not just sating their hunger, but creating for them a veritable feast of the finest Irish produce. Executing this over the course of the following three days required nothing less than a military strategy with Rory and his colleagues at Good Food Ireland leading the charge.
— tracie daly (@DalyTracie) November 6, 2014
After many days of careful preparations around the RDS and the adjoining Herbert Park, the Web Summit officially kicked off for its fourth year in Dublin on Tuesday 4th November. Predictions for the 2014 summit being the biggest yet were well-founded, and South Dublin was literally humming with activity for the entire week.
— Good Food Ireland (@GoodFoodIreland) November 5, 2014
The Food Summit, as it quickly became known, came about in 2013 when Good Food Ireland partnered with the organisers of The Web Summit in its third year running, its gestation period being just 10 days! Paddy Cosgrave (Founder of the Web Summit) drove down to visit Margaret Jeffares (Founder of Good Food Ireland) on her farm in Co. Wicklow. Rising to the challenge, Margaret assembled a first class team around her, including Rory O'Connell; and, in little over a week, they had rallied over 75 Irish food producers and managed to pull off the largest ever showcase to date of Irish food.
This year, with Web Summit attendee numbers mushrooming to over 20,000, Good Food Ireland had an even bigger challenge ahead. 400 food producers, suppliers and chefs from Ireland's leading restaurants, hotels, pubs, cafes, food shops and cookery schools came together, surpassing all expectations. Over three days, showcase breakfasts, scrumptious lunches and VIP dinners were hosted and catered by the Good Food Ireland team, including a battalion of chefs, and the many volunteers who so generously gave of their time.
— Ballymaloe Relish (@BallymaloeRelis) November 4, 2014
Members of Ballymaloe House, Ballymaloe Cookery School, Ballymaloe Relish, The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine, and The School of Restaurant & Kitchen Management were assembled to support Rory and represent Ballymaloe en force at the Summit. The chefs at Ballymaloe House prepared biblical proportions of Gillian Hegarty's Chickpea, Tomato & Spinach Stew for lunch - 630kg to be exact!
Darina was in attendance in the Good Food Ireland colours, serving up delicious food to the hungry crowds!
— Litfestie (@Litfestie) November 4, 2014
Hazel Allen of Ballymaloe House and Yasmin Hyde (daughter of Myrtle) accepted an award on behalf of Myrtle Allen, who was inducted into the Good Food Ireland Hall of Fame alongside Paddy Cosgrave and Redmond O'Donoghue in a ceremony to celebrate the end of a very successful 2014 Food Summit.
Maxine from Ballymaloe Relish:
"I was delighted to help out with Good Food Ireland for the 2nd year in a row at the Web Summit. I work a lot with exporting Ballymaloe Relish, and we are always trying to improve the reputation of Irish Food abroad. Ireland has a bit to come yet to tell its quality food story that we have so many great producers, restaurants and hotels across the country. The Web Summit is a phenomenal opportunity to give up to 20,000 people a chance to taste a plate of great Irish Food. We were thrilled to supply our mini jars of Ballymaloe Relish, Ballymaloe Cranberry Sauce and Jalapeno Relish, as well as our new diced Beetroot. We also made up a special batch of the Ballymaloe Sweet Cucumber pickle. It was wonderful to see it on the plates of so many international people. We had great fun as a group serving everybody, it was all hands on deck as people came to the Food Marquees from 11.30 to 3.30. The Web Summit ended with a fantastic Irish Food Party on Thursday evening where Ballymaloe Relish joined the huge buffet of producers and restaurants and served up to 1,000 people a delicious Irish Feast."
— Acky (@Wackyacky) November 4, 2014
In addition to serving up delicious hot food, the Ballymaloe team also hosted a number of dessert stations and a bakery where diners could choose from a kaleidoscopic range of delicious artisan breads, butter and homemade preserves and jams, as well as handmade chocolates, ice-creams, sorbets, gluten-free cookies, biscuits, cakes, crisps, fruit, barmbracks, tarts and colourful meringues!
Obviously, it would take too long to list all the amazing producers who supplied The Food Summit, but we were proud to showcase the products of, among many others, Glenilen Farm, Glastry Farm, Killowen Farm, The Apple Farmer, Ballycross Apple Farm, Foods of Athenry, Keoghs Crisps, Chez Emily Chocolates, Lorge Chocolatier, Wilde Irish Chocolates, Linalla, Rossmore, Kilbeggan Organic Foods, Seymours Biscuits, Hassetts Bakery, The Lemon Tree, Granville Hotel Waterford, The Chocolate Garden, Crossogue Preserves.
Congratulations to everyone involved in being part of what was described by one summit delegate as "a Riverdance moment for Irish food!"