All roads finally led to Dingle yesterday for the start of the Blas na hÉireann finals, the Irish food awards and largest food awards on the island.
The bronze, silver and gold winners from Co. Wicklow across a range of different categories are: Avoca Ireland, Coconut & Moo Moo, Irish Cheese Direct, Sussed Nutrition Ltd, The Butler’s Pantry, The Happy Pear, Wicklow Way Wines and Mic’s Chilli, who were also awarded Best in County.
This year’s finalists and winners got to experience the Blas Village for the first time. Located in the heart of Dingle, this pop-up village was built for producers across the country to come together and celebrate the very best of Irish food and drink for Blas’s first in-person event in three years. As well as the awards being held here, finalists and winners have had the opportunity to showcase their products, engage with customers and meet key industry buyers.
Finalists and winners showcased their produce in a new tented market — each tent highlighting a province in Ireland — also a new addition to the festival. Suitably named Eat Ireland in a Day, visitors were able to enjoy the high calibre quality of food & drinks that reached the finalist stage.
Speaking after the announcement Artie Clifford, Chairperson and founder of Blas na hÉireann said, “After a three-year hiatus from an in-person event, having a three-day event with the addition of the Blas Village and Eat Ireland in a Day has been worth the wait. I am really proud of what we hosted online but one thing that was repeated over and over was that people missed being in Dingle. As well as the excitement of the awards, it has been an intense and fantastic few days of focused networking, catch-ups and creating new connections and I am delighted that we have been able to showcase this exceptional produce to both regular visitors and industry experts in such an approachable and enjoyable way. What a great few days to welcome our Blas family back to Dingle.”
Now in their 15th year, Blas na hÉireann saw a huge increase in entries with almost 3000 products and many new producers entering the awards for the first time. Products from every county in Ireland were entered to win bronze, silver or gold awards in over 150 food and drink categories, as well as key awards like Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Producer, with 8 producers winning from County Wicklow
“Making it as a finalist is a huge achievement and one to be very proud of,” says Artie Clifford, Chairperson and founder of Blas na hÉireann. “The competition ramps up year on year, meaning those producers who are short-listed as finalists really are the crème de la crème of Irish food and drink. This year it was not just the excellent food and drink that has been celebrated but the people themselves, our passionate and resilient producers. It has been quite a homecoming for our Blas family and we are looking forward already to doing it all over again next year.”