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Delicious victory for north west at NI Food and Drink Awards

Success on a plate as NI Food and Drink Awards toast the best industry has to offer

By Margaret Canning ·

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NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured: Sarah Travers with Ald. Hilary McClintock, Mayor Derry City and Strabane District Council. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The north west was the biggest winner in the first Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards on Thursday night.

Londonderry's hospitality and food saw it praised as a must-visit area after it won the Destination Delicious award at Tourism NI's Year of Food and Drink Awards in association with the Belfast Telegraph. Around 300 representatives from the tourism and food industries attended the glittering event, hosted by broadcaster Sarah Travers at the Culloden Hotel outside Belfast.

  • View photos from the NI Year of Food and Drink Awards event in our gallery above
     
  • Don't miss the 12-Page NI Year of Food and Drink Awards supplement in the Belfast Telegraph on Feb 7

Guests were served a sumptuous five-course banquet planned and prepared by Culloden head chef Paul McKnight.

While Londonderry won the top award, Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Comber and the Sperrins were celebrated for their contribution through tours and events during the Year of Food and Drink.

Products including Mash Direct's crispy vegetable bake, free range Cavanagh Eggs from Co Fermanagh and Lough Neagh eels were also praised, with the crispy vegetable bake winning an award for food innovation.

Tourism NI was the awards' main sponsor, while categories were sponsored by catering firm Sodexo, Invest NI, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Spar, Moy Park and Food NI.

Video: Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards toast the best industry has to offer

Welcoming guests last night, Belfast Telegraph managing director Richard McClean said that while the year had passed, the legacy of the Year of Food and Drink would continue.

He added: "We are here to make a simple point and that is to remind ourselves that the Year of Food and Drink was the ignition key to a much longer-term commitment to the sector."

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Judges Charles Campion and Georgina Campbell, host Sarah Travers and Sharon Machala at the NI Year of Food and Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel last night

He also noted that the signs for the future of the industry were "very good".

"Our dairy, beef, pork and poultry exports are well established success stories.

"Close behind them are the fast developing seafood and produce industries carving for themselves an international reputation for excellence," he said, adding Northern Ireland had only just learned to shout about its success in food and drink.

"We are still too often surprised by how good our food is. This is maybe down to our inherent sense of modesty or maybe it's a clever ruse which allows us to keep the best for ourselves.

Mr McClean observed that things were now changing.

"The truth is that the message is starting to get out," he said.

"What we make and grow, what we cultivate and harvest and what we nurture for future generations is a sustainable industry which creates job stability for thousands of people and raises our visibility as an exporter of highest quality."

As representatives from Londonderry's council and food businesses collected the Destination Delicious award, judges praised the area's collective will "to progress the city and county into a food and hospitality destination for tourists and locals to enjoy".

The winners were selected by an esteemed panel of judges - Professor Una McMahon Beattie of Ulster University, food critics Charles Campion and Georgina Campbell, and Belfast Telegraph food writer Joris Minne.

The banquet featured culinary delights such as Glenarm organic salmon as an appetiser, followed by a starter of local chicken terrine, paired with a Comber leek jelly and Northern Ireland's famous Nutty Krust Bread.

For a main course, guests were served Carnbrooke braised short rib beef with an Abernethy Butter mash.

The dessert consisted of panna cotta with Farmview Dairies cream, and Culloden signature shortbread was served with a Northern Irish coffee.

Each course was also paired with a delicious locally brewed craft beer.

Each course was also paired with a delicious locally brewed craft beer.

Who picked up the prizes

Best Food Story sponsored by Invest NI

Food Heartland Forums, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

Best NI Food Event or Festival sponsored by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

Legenderry Food Festival, Derry City & Strabane District Council

Best NI Local Market sponsored by Belfast Telegraph

Comber Farmers' Market, Comber Regeneration Community Partnership

Food Innovation sponsored by Food NI

Crispy Vegetable Bakes, Mash Direct

Growing for the Future sponsored by SPAR NI

Foodovation Centre, North West Regional College

Roots to Market sponsored by Sodexo

Food Heartland Initiative, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

Best NI Tours & Trails sponsored by Tourism NI

Cycle Sperrins, Far & Wild

Best Marketing Achievement

sponsored by Moy Park & Food NI

Eel-Eat, Lough Neagh Partnership

Destination Delicious

Derry-Londonderry & the North West

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NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured: Sarah Travers with Ald. Hilary McClintock, Mayor Derry City and Strabane District Council. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Jackie Reid and Susie Brown pictured at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Hilary McClintock, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council with guests at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 7 Best Marketing Achievement Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with Aisling Graham from Moy Park presenting the Lough Neagh Partnership with the award for Best Marketing Achievement, for the Eel-Eat project. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: Aisling Graham from Moy Park, Cathy Chauhan, Emer Kearney and Sarah Travers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 7 Best Marketing Achievement Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with Aisling Graham from Moy Park presenting the Lough Neagh Partnership with the award for Best Marketing Achievement, for the Eel-Eat project. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: Aisling Graham from Moy Park, Cathy Chauhan, Emer Kearney and Sarah Travers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Richard McClean and Joris Minne pictured at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 9 Destination Delicious Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with Terence Brannigan, Chairman of Tourism NI and Richard McClean, Managing Director of Belfast Telegraph presenting food producers, businesses and the council of Derry~Londonderry and the North West area with the Destination Delicious Award. Judges selected the area to win the prestigious award on the night thanks to the collaborative efforts from all in the food, hospitality and tourism industries to make the region a real foodie destination. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: Sarah Travers, Ald. Hilary McClintock, Mayor Derry City and Strabane District Council and Stephen Gillespie. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 8 Best NI Local Market Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with Jackie Reid from the Belfast Telegraph presenting the Comber Regeneration Community Partnership with the award for Best NI Local Market for Comber FarmersÕ Market. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: Jackie Reid from the Belfast Telegraph, Roy Murray, Alderman Deborah Girvan, Mayor Ards and North Down Borough, Kirsty Atkinson, Sarah Travers and Mike Moore. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 9 Destination Delicious Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with Terence Brannigan, Chairman of Tourism NI and Richard McClean, Managing Director of Belfast Telegraph presenting food producers, businesses and the council of Derry~Londonderry and the North West area with the Destination Delicious Award. Judges selected the area to win the prestigious award on the night thanks to the collaborative efforts from all in the food, hospitality and tourism industries to make the region a real foodie destination. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Destination Delicious Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with Terence Brannigan, Chairman of Tourism NI and Richard McClean, Managing Director of Belfast Telegraph presenting food producers, businesses and the council of Derry~Londonderry and the North West area with the Destination Delicious Award. Judges selected the area to win the prestigious award on the night thanks to the collaborative efforts from all in the food, hospitality and tourism industries to make the region a real foodie destination. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: Sarah Travers with Ald. Hilary McClintock, Mayor Derry City and Strabane District Council Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 6 Roots to Market Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with Suzanne Pollock from Sodexo, presenting Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council with the Roots to Market award for their Food Heartland Initiative. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: Colin McCusker, Brian Irwin, Suzanne Pollock from Sodexo, Roger Wilson, Sarah Jane Macdonald and Sarah Travers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 5 Best NI Tours & Trails Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI, presenting Far & Wild the award for Best NI Tours & Trails for Cycle Sperrins. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI, Sarah Travers, Lawrence McBride and Kevin Hickey. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 5 Best NI Tours & Trails Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI, presenting Far & Wild the award for Best NI Tours & Trails for Cycle Sperrins. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI, Sarah Travers, Lawrence McBride and Kevin Hickey. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 5 Best NI Tours & Trails Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI, presenting Far & Wild the award for Best NI Tours & Trails for Cycle Sperrins. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured is Lawrence McBride. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Jill McLernon, Riki Neill, Jolene Kelly and Natalie Brown pictured at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 4 Best Food Story Sarah Travers, host at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with John Hood from Invest NI presenting Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Council the award for Best Food Story with the Armagh Food Heartland Forums. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: Sarah Travers, Brian Irwin, Roger Wilson, John Hood from Invest NI, Simon Dougan and Colin McCusker. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Uel Mackin, Natalie Brown, Brian Bloomfield, Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and Riki Neill pictured at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Lee Gibson and Richard Connor pictured at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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§Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Award 3 Growing for the Future Sarah Travers, host of the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards is pictured with Paddy Doody from SPAR NI, presenting representatives from the North West Regional College with the Growing for the Future award for the Foodovation Centre. The inaugural awards celebrated the collaborative efforts of all from the food, drink and hospitality industry during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, with an gala awards evening at the Culloden Hotel. Pictured left to right: Sarah Travers, Brian McDermott, Paddy Doody from SPAR NI, Leo Murphy and Dr Fergal Tuffy. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd February 2017 - NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Tracey Hamilton, Mash Direct pictured at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
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Judges Charles Campion and Georgina Campbell, host Sarah Travers and Sharon Machala at the NI Year of Food and Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel last night
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Belfast Telegraph Editor Gail Walker and food critic Joris Minne (centre) with Simon Dougan (far left) and John Best (right)
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Richard McClean, Managing Director of Belfast Telegraph, Mary Blake, Tourism Manager Derry City and Strabane District Council and Hilary McClintock, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council
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Phil Ervine and Caroline Wilson pictured at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel.
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Jennifer O'Donnell and Louise Millsopp pictured at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards at the Culloden Hotel.