Putting food on menu for tourists

TG4’s weather girl Cáitlín Nic Aoidh got an early sample of the delights on offer at TouRRoir in Galway later this month from chef JP McMahon and Margaret Jeffares of Good Food Ireland. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure.
TG4’s weather girl Cáitlín Nic Aoidh got an early sample of the delights on offer at TouRRoir in Galway later this month from chef JP McMahon and Margaret Jeffares of Good Food Ireland. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure.

Lifestyle – A global forum in NUI Galway at the end of this month, which will look at the links between food, tourism and culture, has attracted leading figures from across the world to share their knowledge on how the sectors complement each other.  Judy Murphy got the lowdown.

“We do these things well because it’s in our nature,” says Margaret Jeffares of Ireland’s approach to hospitality and culture.

Putting a formal structure on what comes naturally in order to drive sustainable economic growth, is the theme of a global forum on food, tourism and culture that will be held in NUI Galway on Tuesday, April 24.

TouRRoir is the brainchild of Margaret Jeffares, the founder of Good Food Ireland, and participants will include global tourism and marketing experts as well as some of the world’s top chefs and food producers.

There will also be a strong local involvement from people in the arts, culture and hospitality sectors in Ireland and Galway.

TouRRoir (the name is a combination of tourism and terroir) will explore how new links can be forged between tourism, culture and food to benefit communities and individuals, Margaret explains.

Tourism and agriculture are two of Ireland’s biggest indigenous sectors, she remarks, while we also have an international reputation as an artistic nation, with Galway being at the centre of this. TouRRoir is being held in Galway to mark the area’s designation as European Region of Gastronomy 2018 and in acknowledgement of Galway’s status as European Capital of Culture 2020.

The inaugural event will also honour people who have spearheaded links between food, culture and tourism, nationally and internationally.

They include Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe as well as Peruvian food ambassador and chef Gastón Acurio, who has been to the forefront of promoting Peruvian cuisine through his restaurant Astrid y Gastón.

Clarewoman Margaret Jeffares has been a ground-breaker in developing food and tourism in Ireland for more than a decade.

Twelve years ago, having observed so many of Ireland’s specialist food producers working individually to promote their goods, she decided to establish Good Food Ireland to co-ordinate these efforts.

From a farming background she had spent two decades working in tourism marketing and development and she saw a gap in the market.

Good Food Ireland was an umbrella brand that pioneered the link between Irish food and tourism, with the aim of growing Ireland as a world-class food destination and supporting sustainable food tourism.

All members had to be committed to using Irish food and drink and supporting Irish farmers, food producers and fishermen. That remains the case. Meanwhile for visitors and locals who love food, dealing with members of Good Food Ireland promises an authentic and enjoyable food experience. These members include hotels, restaurants and producers – here in Galway, Renvyle House and the Michelin-starred Aniar as well as Leahy Beekeeping are members.

As Good Food Ireland evolved, Margaret’s vision expanded and she realised that culture was also a vital part of the tourist experience, especially in Ireland.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.