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Northern Ireland’s Food Heartland toasts 2018 Award Winners

Food HeartlandFood, drink and hospitality businesses and individuals from across Northern Ireland’s official Food Heartland are celebrating after securing success in the biennial Food Heartland awards, proving again that the region deserves its enviable reputation for excellence and innovation.

The Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon area is already making a big name for itself at home and away for the quality of its ingredients, food provenance and award-winning artisan produce – and is still celebrating after confirming its place as a top five foodie destination in Ireland.

After an unprecedented number of entries and a shortlist of 12 category awards, a total of nine businesses came out on top after a rigorous judging process spearheaded by chef, writer and broadcaster Paula McIntyre MBE and renowned culinary expert Noel McMeel, Executive Chef of the exclusive Lough Erne Resort.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s Food Heartland Awards, in association with Power NI, took place at a gala ceremony at The Palace Demesne, Armagh with special guest Jean-Christophe Novelli.

Best business New Start, and poised for great international success, was artisan cheesemaker Ballylisk of Armagh – the only Northern Ireland producer to use its own established dairy herd to produce its quality range of cheeses, some of which are already on sale at London’s iconic Borough Market.

Craigavon’s Holmes Bakery, which produces quality, handcrafted products using quality ingredients and traditional methods – and famed for its butter shortbread and flake meal biscuits – won the Best Export Business award in recognition for its fast-growing sales to retailers, private label and food service clients across the UK and Ireland.

Burren Balsamics from Richhill, a previous New Start winner, took home the Innovation Award for 2018 for its success in focusing on developing and growing its in-demand range of perfectly handcrafted infusions and building new markets outside Northern Ireland.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Cllr Julie Flaherty said: “Our Food Heartland Awards represent an important showcase of quality, innovation and outstanding taste for all our businesses – both large and small – and for those individuals who help to power our flourishing food-focused region.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone on their achievements and to everyone involved, to thank them for their efforts, their skills, passion and drive to succeed locally, nationally and internationally.”

Armagh’s stunning, five-star Newforge House was rewarded for its exquisite hospitality offer with an award for Best Licenced Eating Establishment and for the quality of its dishes which use the best local ingredients.

Gourmet growers Davison Canners, a Portadown-based company famed for its quality jams, compotes and fillings range produced from is 120-acre orchards, took the Best Growth Business award in recognition of its business success.

Portadown’s The Yellow Door Deli and Harnett’s Oils from Banbridge were jointly rewarded for the commitment to sustainability as Banbridge-based Quails Fine Foods was officially acknowledged as the Food Heartland’s Best Independent Retail Food Business.

The Yellow Door Deli also found itself the winner of the Best Non-Licensed Eating Award and its owner, respected chef and entrepreneur Simon Dougan, received the esteemed Industry Ambassador Award to rapturous applause.

James Gracey of Quail’s Butchers, Dromore, was praised for his skills and passion for his trade, receiving the coveted Rising Star award which was sponsored by Southern Regional College.

Moy Park, based in Craigavon and a global leader in food production, was rewarded for Best Marketing Campaign.

Lord Mayor Julie Flaherty added: “Our borough is home to a wealth of high quality food and drink as well as world-renowned products with protected status including Armagh Bramley Apples and Lough Neagh Eels and I’m delighted that everyone involved in this important sector are now receiving the recognition they deserve.”

Alan Egner, Commercial Sales & Marketing Manager from key sponsor Power NI said: “We are delighted to sponsor of the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Food Heartland Awards 2018. This is a fantastic initiative which has a huge connection with many of our customers in the agri-food sector in this region. The awards have been a great opportunity for us to show our support to this vibrant and innovative sector. We would like to congratulate all the winners in achieving their well-deserved success”

Food Heartland Winners 2018 (and those shortlisted)

Best New Start Award

Sponsored by Armagh Business Centre / Banbridge District Enterprise / CIDO

  •  Ballylisk of Armagh (Winner)
  • Donna Fox Tours
  • Lean Supper Club Ltd
  • Molly’s Mill
  • West End Bakery

Best Growth Business Award – sponsored by First Trust Bank 

  • Davison Canners Ltd (Winner)
  • Holmes Bakery
  • Lean Supper Club Ltd
  • Quails Fine Foods

Best Export Business Award

  • Holmes Bakery (Winner)
  • Mac Ivors Cider Co.
  • New Found Joy Ltd

Best Marketing Campaign Award

  • Lean Supper Club Ltd
  • Moy Park (Winner)

Innovation Award – sponsored by Avondale Foods

  • Armagh Cider Company Ltd
  • Burren Balsamics (Winner)
  • Duvillaun Fine Foods
  • Lean Supper Club Ltd
  • Long Meadow Cider

Sustainability Award

  • Duvillaun Fine Foods
  • Harnett’s Oils (Joint Winner)
  • Yellow Door (Portadown) Ltd (Joint Winner)

Rising Star Award (Under 25)

Sponsored by Southern Regional College

  • Hollie McBride – Yellow Door (Portadown) Ltd
  • Jayne Rollston – Pinkertons
  • James Gracey – Southern Regional College / Quails (Winner)
  • Kerrie Walker – New Found Joy
  • Peter McKeever – Long Meadow Cider
  • Sara O’Hara – Yellow Door (Portadown) Ltd

Best Licensed Eating Establishment Award

Sponsored by Bunzl McLaughlin

  • Groucho’s On The Square
  • Linen Hill Kitchen Deli
  • Molly’s Mill
  • Newforge House (Winner)
  • Sinton’s at the Bridge
  • The Friary Restaurant (Armagh City Hotel)
  • The Vault

Best Non-Licensed Eating Establishment Award

Sponsored by Bunzl McLaughlin

  • The Yellow Door Deli (Winner)
  • West End Bakery

Best Independent Retail Food Business Award

Sponsored by Ulster Tatler Group

  • Quails Fine Foods (Winner)
  • The Yellow Door Deli
  • West End Bakery

Best Dish Using Local Ingredients Award

Sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

  • Armagh City Hotel – Glazed ‘Quail’s of Banbridge’ Sugar Pit Bacon Loin, stuffed cabbage leaf, spiced Armagh Bramley apple relish, mashed McCormick’s potatoes, crackling, wholegrain mustard, and Orchard honey sauce
  • Digby’s Bar & Restaurant – Digby’s Homemade Armagh Bramley Apple Tart
  • Groucho’s On the Square – ‘Pinkertons’ pork fillet stuffed with ‘Ballylisk’ Cheese & ‘Groucho’s’ apple butter wrapped in parma ham in a local smoked pancetta with ‘Castle garden’ buttered greens with a Co. Armagh cider sauce.
  • Molly’s Mill – Pan seared smoked Lough Neagh Eel, crispy Dromore pork belly caramelised in Jilly’s honey and Burren Balsamic glaze, comber new baby potato, Mac Ivors plum and ginger cider infuse Armagh Bramley apple sauce, buttered local Kale.
  • Newforge House – Sticky Toffee Armagh Apple Pudding with Mac Ivors Cider & Abernethy Butter Caramel Sauce, and Irish Black Butter Buttermilk Ice Cream (Winner)
  • O’Chatten Smokery – A trio of Wild Lough Neagh Brown Trout (Dollaghan)
  • Quails At The Gallery – Beef Cheeks and Shin with Chichilo Negro (Black Mole) and Pickles from our garden
  • The Yellow Door Deli – Caramelised Apple upside-down tart served with a buttery and full of flavour caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream

Best Use of a PGI Product in a Food or Drink Product Award

Sponsored by Tourism NI

  • Armagh Cider Company Ltd – Carsons Crisp Cider
  • Armagh Cider Company Ltd – Maddens Orchard Bramble Cider
  • Armagh Cider Company Ltd – Maddens Mellow cider
  • Burren Balsamics – Armagh Bramley Apple Balsamic Vinegar (Winner)
  • Groucho’s On the Square – Groucho’s Apple Butter
  • Kitchen Bakes Ltd – Bramley Apple & Blackberry Pie
  • Kitchen Bakes Ltd – Bramley Apple & Toffee Muffin
  • Lean Supper Club Ltd – Lean Supper Club Armagh Bramley Apple and Sweet Potato Cheesecake
  • Long Meadow Cider – Long Meadow Medium Cider
  • O’Chatten Smokery – Cold Smoked Lough Neagh Pollan Fillets

Industry Ambassador Award

Simon Dougan, Yellow Door Deli (Winner)