Lifestyle – Galway chef and restaurant owner JP McMahon wants us to rethink our approach to food. As he prepares for the third Food on the Edge Symposium, he tells Judy Murphy why.
I’ve been told you have to play the political game. But at some point, someone has to stop playing that game and say it as it is,” says chef JP McMahon, who has done more to change the face of food in Galway than any other individual. As he prepares for the third Food on the Edge Symposium which will see 45 of the world’s top chefs and food journalists gather in Galway’s Black Box Theatre next week for a two-day conference on the future of food, JP is happy to speak his mind.
The chef-patron of the Michelin-starred Aniar restaurant, who also owns Cava Tapas Bar and the recently opened Tartare Café and Wine Bar, has landed himself in trouble before for that trait.
Most memorable was the year he decided to close Aniar during the Galway Races Summer meeting after several no-show bookings left him with empty seats in the tiny restaurant. Some people felt he was right, but there was criticism too about his comments on the behaviour of some Racegoers.
However, while JP’s detractors may regard him as arrogant and outspoken, others praise his vision, his passion for food and his generosity. Diners at Aniar talk about being sent home with freshly-made bread, while they now get the recipe and a poem by Brendan Kennelly entitled Bread.
These gestures reflect JP’s attitude to food, which is that we need to stop seeing our “top-quality beef, shellfish and dairy produce” as commodities for export and instead see them as part of our own culture.
“Food is often an after-thought but it’s probably the most important thing we need,” he says.
His aim with Food on the Edge (FOTE), which he founded three years ago, is to have people in the business “up their game”, with a resulting influence on the larger community.
Chef Dylan McGrath has described FOTE as being like “Electric Picnic for chefs” and it’s a good analogy.
Speakers this year range from Michelin-starred chefs to those who specialise in street-food, or come from areas of conflict. They include new faces and previous participants.
The stars of the Netflix series Chef’s Table, Nordic chef Magnus Nilsson of Fäviken, and Slovenian chef and winner of 2016 Best Female Chef in The World Ana Roš of Hiša Franko restaurant will attend, as will Niki Nakayama, owner of the groundbreaking n/naka restaurant in Los Angeles.
Leading Irish chefs taking part include Robin Gill, Niall McKenna, Anna Haugh, Cúán Greene and the Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year finalists.
Speakers will talk for 15 minutes on the topic of Action and Reaction and there will be panel discussions on themes such as Finnish cooking and on Creating a Better Food System.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Titans return to the national league for coming season
TITANS BC is returning to the national league for the upcoming 2020/21 season, one of four new teams that will compete in the Men’s Division 1 this year.
The city side will play in the Northern Conference of the league alongside fellow new sides, Drogheda Wolves and Malahide, along with Ulster University from Belfast; LYIT from Donegal; Sligo All-Stars; and Dublin Lions and Tolka Rovers from Dublin.
That looks to be the easier of the two conferences: Dublin Lions were relegated from the Super League at the end of last season, LYIT finished 5th in Division 1, Sligo finished 8th, Ulster University finished 9th, and Tolka Rovers finished 10th in a 12-team league competition that ran as a single league, rather than split into two conferences.
With four new teams for the coming season – Team Kerry are the 4th new side – Division 1 is returning to a split conference format, and all the heavy-hitters would appear to be in the Southern Conference.
Team Kerry will be joined by fellow Killarney side, St Paul’s, which finished second in the league last season, as well as Cork’s Fr Mathews and IT Carlow, who finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
Limerick Celtics and Limerick Eagles, who finished 6th and 7th, are also in the Southern Conference, as well as last season’s bottom two, WIT Waterford and Portlaoise Panthers.
Titans took a one-year hiatus from the league last season, having endured a torrid 2018/19 campaign when it finished with the worst record in the league, winning just two of its 23 league games to finish bottom of the Northern Conference.
Maree and Moycullen will once again represent Galway in the Men’s Super League, which is also being split into a two-conference format, with six teams in each conference. However, while Titans will be looking north for their main opposition, Maree and Moycullen will be looking in the opposite direction as both have been placed in the South Conference.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Group hurling ties to be restricted to supporters of participating teams
NO neutrals will be allowed to attend the opening round of the revamped Galway senior hurling championship which is scheduled to start in little more than a fortnight’s time.
A gathering of 500 – likely to also include the rival players and mentors – will be restricted to each group game, with the participating clubs set to be allocated around 200 tickets each for sale/distribution ahead of the fixture.
A mechanism has still to be sorted for this process, but matches will be restricted to Galway’s three county grounds: Pearse Stadium, Kenny Park, Athenry and Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, along with Loughrea. Killimor was the fifth venue in consideration for hosting senior games, but redevelopment work at the ground has ruled out that prospect.
The full round of 12 group ties will go ahead on the weekend ending July 26, but there will be no double headers. Instead, games at the same venues will be staged four hours apart to allow sanitisation of the various grounds.
Only people with tickets will gain entry to the games and there will be no cash taken at the turnstiles.
Street fight thugs from viral video outside Garda HQ avoid jail
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two men and a woman who were involved in a ‘staged’ fistfight outside the new Garda HQ in Renmore were warned they will serve prison sentences if they don’t stay off social media for two years.
Suspended sentences were imposed on all three over the incident which was recorded on mobile phone and footage went viral on social media.
The altercation between John Maughan (27), formerly of Rinville Park, Oranmore, who now lives in Dublin, and Patrick Maughan (31), of 122 Laurel Park, Newcastle, was filmed on Patrick Maughan’s phone by his wife, Ellen Maughan (31), who is John Maughan’s sister.
The footage was uploaded that evening to YouTube, where it gained a lot of traction.
Galway District Court heard this week the trio were sitting in their cars when Gardaí arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes.
They were subsequently charged with affray at Dublin Road, Murrough, Renmore, on November 2, 2018, in that all three used or threatened to use violence towards each other, thereby putting other people present in fear for their own safety and the safety of others.
Both men were also charged with breaching the peace.
Garda Pat Casey told the sentence hearing the incident occurred at 2.30pm on the main road between GMIT and the Garda HQ.
He said the men’s cars met, whether by accident or design, at that location where they got out and had a fist fight in the middle of the road.
Judge Mary Fahy asked if the location chosen for the fight, right outside the new Garda HQ, was deliberate.
Garda Casey said the men claimed they met by accident, “but that was where they met”, he added.
“The inference is they did it deliberately outside the Station to make it even better on social media. They are an absolute disgrace to do that in public and to do it in front of their children,” Judge Fahy said.
This is a shortened preview version of this court report. To read the article in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.