Naturally North Coast Award Winners Announced

Pictured receiving his award for Best Restaurant in the Naturally North Coast Menu Competition is Gary Stewart of Tartine, The Distillers Arms, Bushmills. Also pictured are Nicola Weir of the BBC who hosted the awards and Gerry Lavery (centre), Permanent Secretary of Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The winners of the Naturally North Coast Menu Competition were announced at an exclusive awards ceremony at the Old Bushmills Distillery on Wednesday 19 th January. Gerry Lavery, Permanent Secretary, DARD, presented specially commissioned plaques to representatives of the three winning eating establishments in addition to a special supplier award.

The ceremony, which was hosted by Nicola Weir of the BBC, was the climax to this year’s competition and saw a wide variety of the North Coast’s eating establishments battle it out for recognition as best in their category. Naturally North Coast is funded by the Department of Agriculture & Rural Developments’ NI Food Programme, and is a joint initiative by the four councils in Moyle, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Limavady.  The menu competition encourages restaurateurs in the North Coast to use locally sourced ingredients in their menus.

Awards were presented in three categories: Best Restaurant, Best Hotel Restaurant, and Best Coffee Shop. Three additional eateries were presented with “ Highly Commended” in each of the three categories.

The winner of the Best Restaurant category, deemed to be “an excellent advertisement for the Naturally North Coast Initiative ” by the judges, was Gary Stewart of Tartine, the Distillers Arms, Bushmills .  Gary’s array of unique menu choices, from Pan seared scallops with “Ballycastle” crab and lobster risotto to Rich red wine & juniper marinated venison casserole with celeriac mash offered, in their opinion, excellent variety, value for money, service, atmosphere and delicious food created by locally sourced produce. The Highly Commended award was given to husband and wife team, Richard & Trish Wilson of Harmony Hill Country House & Restaurant in Ballymoney.

The winning award in the Best Hotel Category went to Dermot Friel & Kieran McGilligan of the Bushtown Hotel in Coleraine. The Bushtown was awarded top marks in most of their categories and especially in their customer service. Overall, the Judges said: “The Bushtown’s Naturally North Coast Menu available was carefully thought out and infused with many local ingredients…making their dishes simply mouth-watering”.  The Highly Commended award in this category was presented to Trevor Kane of the Bayview Hotel, Portballintrae.

Winner of the Best Coffee Shop went to Neil Campbell of New Society in Coleraine, who received an accolade from the judging panel that stated “ The quality of food and service can match any cafe bistro in London or Dublin and is an incredible asset to Coleraine ”.  Ronan Boyle, of Boyle’s Cafe, Ballycastle received a Highly Commended from the judges.  Trading for just over a year, Boyle’s Cafe specialises in homemade dishes with an emphasis on great food, great drinks and great service.

The final award on the day was the Best Supplier Award, which was a special award for the company judged to be the most inspiring and innovative supplier of local produce. This went to McAtamney’s Butchers, a family owned business dedicated to providing quality to their customers with all of their produce guaranteed local. McAtamney’s has eight branches in counties Antrim and Derry (Kilrea, Garvagh, Limavady, Maghera, Magherafelt, Ballymoney, Ballymena and Coleraine) and employs approximately 50 employees.  Suppliers to Caterers, Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes, and Nursing Homes among others, McAtamney’s are strong champions for supporting local producers.  It was felt by the judges that McAtamney’s embody the true ethos of the Naturally North Coast initiative.

Speaking at the ceremony, Permanent Secretary, Mr Gerry Lavery, conveyed best wishes from the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew and stated that the Minister holds in “very high regard the work done by Moyle District Council in the promotion of local produce and their support for local producers over several years through the Menu of Moyle initiative and now through the Naturally North Coast Menu Competition.”

He went on to offer his congratulations to all of the councils involved, and also thanked all of the competitors for their efforts in promoting the North Coast and Northern Ireland as a place for very fine dining. Using Bushmills as his reference, Mr Lavery reminded the audience “of what a global success a local product can become when it is nurtured, presented and promoted in a correct way”.

Concluding the awards ceremony, Margaret Craig, Economic Development Officer, Moyle District Council thanked everyone who had participated in this year’s competition and reminded those present that the standard had now been set for the 2011 awards.  She concluded “The success of the initiative in recognising the growing trend among consumers for quality food by actively promoting local produce to both commercial and domestic food consumers is one dependent upon developing relationships at all levels and we are delighted at the support we have received both from DARD, our local councils, our food producers and local businesses.  We look forward to building upon the achievements recognised here today in 2011 and for a long time to come”.

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Pictured receiving their Winners awards at the Naturally North Coast Menu Competition, which were held at the Old Bushmills Distillery are (L to R): Dermot Friel and Kieran McGilligan, Bushtown Hotel, Coleraine (Best Hotel Restaurant), Nicola Weir, BBC, Neil Campbell, New Society, Coleraine (Best Coffee Shop), Mr Gerry Lavery, Permanent Secretary, DARD, Gary Stewart, Tartine, The Distillers Arms, Bushmills (Best Restaurant), Gabriel McTaggart and Oran McAtamney, McAtamney’s Butchers (Best Supplier).

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Pictured receiving their “Commended” certificates from Nicola Weir (BBC) and Gerry Lavery (DARD) are (l to r): Aidan Boyle of Boyle’s Cafe, Ballycastle, Derek Kennedy, Head Chef of the Bayview Hotel, Portballintrae and Margaret Doole who accepted the award on behalf of Harmony Hill Country House & Restaurant in Ballymoney.

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BBC’s Nicola Weir to host North Coast Menu Awards

The climax to this year’s Naturally North Coast Menu Competition will take place with an exclusive awards ceremony at the Old Bushmills Distillery on Wednesday 19 th January.  The ceremony will be hosted by Nicola Weir of the BBC, and more than 20 of the North Coast’s eating establishments will be eagerly anticipating the results.

The competition, which encourages restaurateurs in the Moyle, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Limavady areas to use locally sourced ingredients in their menus, has been challenging participating venues to come up with their own special Naturally North Coast menu, thereby celebrating the best of local produce by serving the highest quality locally inspired food. Those entering the competition are required to prepare a menu or product that contains at least 60% of local produce.

Awards will be presented in three categories:  Restaurants, Hotel Restaurants and Coffee Shops. A special award has also been introduced to reward the most inspiring and innovative supplier of local produce.

Speaking about the competition, co-ordinator of Naturally North Coast Margaret Craig said: “The “Naturally North Coast” Menu competition builds on the successes of the Menu of Moyle initiative, which has been hugely successful in promoting local produce and encouraging local eateries to ‘buy local’.  We are delighted at the standard of competitors in this year’s competition, which is a real show-case for the quality of culinary expertise in the North Coast area.”

Throughout the past three months culinary professionals of the North Coast have been competing for glory in their particular category and as a result many mouth-watering creations have been presented on various Naturally North coast menus to diners across the area. As with the previous competition, an expert panel of food critics has been out and about making undercover visits to the short-listed finalists.  Judging takes into account each establishment’s use of local produce in a creative way to reflect the feel and essence of the North Coast as well as the quality of food, service and presentation.

In addition to the Menu competition, local food producers are also profiled in an exclusive Local Produce Directory and website – www.naturallynorthcoast.com. All form part of the “Naturally North Coast” initiative, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s NI Regional Food Programme, and is a joint initiative by the four councils in Moyle, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Limavady. The initiative has been developed in recognition of the growing trend among consumers for quality food, and has been actively promoting local produce and encouraging both commercial and domestic food consumers to “buy local”.

If you would like to find out more about “Naturally North Coast” please contact Margaret Craig on 028 2076 2225 or visit www.naturallynorthcoast.com

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Innovative Food e-Book launched

Pictured preparing one of her edible fruit arrangements is Dolores McCloskey, owner of Strawberry Tulip.

A county Derry business woman has launched a self-help e-book for would-be entrepreneurs hoping to follow in her footsteps and set up their own home-based food business.

Dolores McCloskey, who runs an edible floral fruit arrangements business in Dungiven, has just launched her self-penned e-book “ How to Set Up A Home Based Edible Floral Fruit Arrangements Business. ” The book, which is available at www.strawberrytulip.com , provides a step-by-step guide for readers to create their own mouth-watering fresh fruit arrangements and an insight into how this fascinating skill can be developed into a viable commercial enterprise.

Dolores set up her own business in 2008 after returning to her native Dungiven from America. Turning her hobby of creating edible floral fruit arrangements into a successful business her company, Strawberry Tulip, has been at the forefront in the creation of gorgeous, mouth-watering fresh fruit arrangements which are sold for parties, birthdays, weddings, corporate gifts or simply to food connoisseurs throughout the country.

“Edible floral creations are suitable for every occasion”, says Dolores. “Whether to say “Congratulations”, “Thank You” or “Get Well Soon”, a bouquet display of fresh fruits is not only visually stunning but is healthy, natural and the perfect gift to give or receive”.

It is her commitment to providing a product that is fresh, natural and ripe for immediate consumption, coupled with requests for her recipes from home and abroad, that has led Dolores to expand into the world of e-books.

She explains: “As the fruit arrangements are made just hours before they leave the kitchen, in order to ensure the highest quality, immediate delivery is essential. Distance can therefore limit your access to customers from further away. Rather than limit myself by location, I thought that I could reach out to a wider customer base that could take up the art as a new hobby and maybe even develop this into their own home-based business venture. A downloadable eBook was therefore the logical medium to reach out to these new customers.”

Strawberry Tulip is one of a variety of quality food producers located within the North Coast area that are currently featured in the Naturally North Coast Food Directory, which is available free to good food lovers and catering establishments and can also be found online at www.naturallynorthcoast.com .

The Directory, like the “Naturally North Coast” Menu competition which is currently being run amongst the region’s finest eating establishments, is a show-case for local produce and culinary expertise.  Both are part of the “Naturally North Coast” initiative which, recognising the growing trend among consumers for quality food, has been actively promoting local produce and encouraging both commercial and domestic food consumers to “buy local”.

Speaking about the e-book Margaret Craig, Naturally North Coast co-ordinator said. “Dolores’s innovative approach to doing business is another great example of the

dedication to producing a quality food product which is shared among a rich variety of North Coast food producers, food eateries and cooks/chefs in the Moyle, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Limavady areas” says Margaret Craig, the initiative’s co-ordinator.  “The aim of the Naturally North Coast initiative is to celebrate businesses, just like Strawberry Tulip, right on our own doorstep”.

To learn more about the fascinating art of edible floral fruit arrangements, or to get your copy of the “ How to Set Up A Home Based Edible Floral Fruit Arrangements Business ” visit www.strawberrytulip.com or contact Dolores McCloskey on 028 7774 0072.

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North Coast Company offers “Condiments of the Season”

Pictured with a selection of his chutneys is William Caithness, Owner of Wilan’s.

Chutney is not necessarily the first thing that springs to mind when buying the condiments for the Christmas turkey.  Not so, says local food producer William Caithness, proprietor of Wilan’s, Coleraine.   Chutney is a perfect side for many festive dishes.

William, now launching his new “Winter Chutney” creation, the eighth in the Wilan’s range of chutneys, explains: “Chutney, as with other food condiments, is served with food to augment flavour.  Traditionally served on the side to accompany curry dishes or cold meats, it is also the perfect accompaniment for turkey, ham, goose or just about any cold meat or sandwich”.

Food connoisseurs would already know that, of course.  That explains why the Wilan’s range of chutneys has become so popular in the North Coast area both in summer and, now, in winter.

Wilan’s was established just over three years ago and its owner, William Caithness, is delighted at how the business has moved forward in such a short space of time.  William, who studied catering locally at Portrush before completing his studies in Manchester, worked for many years in outside catering. He set up the business initially with the intention of developing it as a contract catering provider for both private and business functions.  However, his home-made chutneys were so popular with his catering customers that William decided to develop a range of chutney in jars for sale to the public.  The chutneys are now sold direct to the public from his premises at the Causeway Enterprise Centre and at the Causeway Speciality Market which takes place this Saturday (11th December) and on the second Saturday of every month.

William is passionate about natural, good food.   This is reflected in the fact that all of the Wilan range is free from preservatives and additives and is freshly home-made.

Wilan’s is one of a variety of quality food producers located within the North Coast area that are currently featured  in the Naturally North Coast Food Directory, which is available free to good food lovers and catering establishments and can also be found online at www.naturallynorthcoast.com.

The Directory, like the “Naturally North Coast” Menu competition which is currently being run amongst the region’s finest eating establishments, is a show-case for local produce and culinary expertise.  Both are part of the “Naturally North Coast” initiative which, recognising the growing trend among consumers for quality food, has been actively promoting local produce and encouraging both commercial and domestic food consumers to “buy local”.

“William’s dedication to producing a quality food product is one which is shared among a rich variety of North Coast food producers, food eateries and cooks/chefs in the Moyle, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Limavady areas” says Margaret Craig, the initiative’s co-ordinator.  “The aim of the Naturally North Coast initiative is to celebrate businesses, just like Wilan’s, right on our own doorstep”.

William agrees heartily with this sentiment.  He hopes to develop Wilan’s to expand his outside catering customer base, develop the chutney range and continue to delight customers with the great, naturally made taste of the North Coast.  For more information on Wilan’s, contact William on 028 7032 7771.

To learn more about the Naturally North Coast initiative or get your free copy of the Naturally North Coast Food Directory, contact Margaret Craig, programme co-ordinator, on 028 2076 2225.

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Naturally North Coast is promoted at the Northern Ireland Farm Toy and Model Show

Naturally North Coast has been invited to take a stand at the 11th Northern Ireland Farm Toy Show that will take place between 2.00pm and 10.00pm on Friday 26th November 2010 at Best Western Magherabuoy House Hotel, Portrush. This Show marks five years since the inaugural show at Coleraine.

Visitors can be assured of a massive array of model and toy tractors, machinery, buildings, lorries, cars, dvds, pictures, ceramics, gifts and crafts. A prize draw and auction will be held in aid of Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.

A limted edition tractor is being commissioned and will be available for sale at the Show. The organisers warmly welcome you to Portrush for this unique event. Enquiries can be made to http://www.nationalminitrac.com

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North Coast Eateries prepare to be Judged

Sean Owens, Chef Patron of Gardiners Restaurant, shows his amazement at the quality and selection of local produce on offer to entrants in the in the “Naturally North Coast” Menu competition.

The battle for culinary eminence has begun in earnest in the 2010 Naturally North Coast Menu competition as a wide selection of restaurants, pubs & inns and coffee shops from throughout the North Coast get ready to be judged by the competition panel.

The Naturally North Coast Menu competition, which is part funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s NI Regional Food Programme, encourages eating establishments in the Moyle, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Limavady areas to use locally sourced ingredients in their menus, and it challenges participating venues to come up with their own special Naturally North Coast menu, celebrating the best of local produce by serving the highest quality locally inspired food.

Speaking about the competition, co-ordinator of Naturally North Coast Margaret Craig said: “The “Naturally North Coast” Menu competition builds on the successes of the Menu of Moyle initiative, which has been hugely successful in promoting local produce and encouraging local eateries to ‘buy local’.  We are delighted at the standard of competitors in this year’s competition, which is a real show-case for the quality of culinary expertise in our area.”

The competition offers the opportunity for all types of eatery to take part by presenting awards in three categories:  Restaurants, Pubs & Inns and Coffee Shops. A special award has also been introduced to reward the most inspiring and innovative supplier of local produce. Those entering the competition are challenged to come up with a special local menu or product that contains at least 60% of local produce.

Participants are now getting ready for the arrival of the judging panel as they make their way, undercover, among the entrants over the next few weeks. Knowledge of the ingredients of their dishes, creativity and flavour are just some of the factors the judges will be looking at as well as assessing the entire dining experience – from service and presentation, to the flavour and quality of food, value for money and cleanliness.

Judging will take place throughout the month of October and November, and winners will be presented their awards at a special awards ceremony that will take place in the Bushmills Distillery in the New Year.

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Natural Foods Directory and Website launched in Bushmills Distillery

The official launch of an exciting new North Coast food directory and website took place at the Old Bushmills Distillery Visitor Centre on Wednesday, 23rd June 2010.

Pictured eyeing up the wonderful natural produce on show at the launch of “Naturally North Coast” Local Produce Directory and website, are (l to r): Price McConaghy, Chairman of Moyle District Council; Pauline Rooney, Head of Food Delivery & Customer Services Unit, DARD; Sean Owens Chef Patron of Gardiners Restaurant and Susan McCloskey of Causeway Cheese Company.

With funding support from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s NI Regional Food Programme, the “Naturally North Coast” Local Produce Directory is a joint initiative by the four councils in Moyle, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Limavady to promote quality local food and to increase its consumption in the North Coast area.

“Naturally North Coast” builds on the successes of the Menu of Moyle initiative, which has been hugely successful in promoting local produce and encouraging the local eateries to ‘buy local’. The name change reflects its enlargement to embrace food producers from throughout the North Coast area from Waterfoot to Ballykelly.

Attending his first function as the newly elected Chairman of Moyle District Council, Price McConaghy said: “Naturally North Coast has the capacity to promote all local producers and food businesses in the North Coast area. It will also help to position the region as an area recognised for good quality local food, which is available directly from the producer to the plates of many of our highly successful eating establishments.”

Speaking at the launch, Pauline Rooney, Head of DARD’s Food Delivery & Customer Services Unit, said: “In the North Coast you are uniquely blessed in terms of natural attractions to which visitors are drawn and so the opportunity is there to introduce them to the flavours and delicacies of the region – that is where initiatives such as your local food directory will play a vital role.”

Other speakers at the launch included Sean Owens Chef Patron of Gardiners Restaurant and Susan McCloskey of Causeway Cheese Company.

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Ballycastle Coffee Shop wins 2010 Great Taste Award

Tuesday 20th July 2010, Ballycastle, Northern Ireland — Ballycastle-based cafe and catering company Thyme & Co have won a prestigious food award, making this their third award in as many years.

Thyme & Co’s gluten-free coconut and almond cake won a gold star in the Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Foods. The Great Taste Awards are the acknowledged benchmark for speciality food and drink, and have been described as the Oscars of the food world and the epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize.

Specialising in locally-sourced home-made food and the freshest ingredients, Thyme & Co has attracted a loyal following since Tom and Eimear opened their doors in May 2006. Eimear began introducing gluten-free recipes in response to requests from customers suffering from coeliacs disease, particularly children, and Thyme & Co now offer a range of gluten-free items on the menu and can cater for an entire gluten-free meal. The award-winning cake is made using butter from Broughshane and free-range eggs from Cushendall. Thyme & Co also provide a popular outside catering service. They also make gluten-free cakes and meals to order.

Over 6000 food items were entered in the Great Taste Awards 2010 by over 1300 companies. Entries are tasted by at least three out of 300 different judges on a blind basis and the judges include fine food retailers, chefs, restaurant critics, food writers and other industry experts.

There are three award categories and Thyme & Co was awarded the coveted one star in recognition of the fact that their gluten-free coconut and almond cake is ‘close to perfection’.

Thyme and Co also won the Menu of Moyle Award in 2009 and the North Antrim Business Award for Best Eating Establishment the year before.

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