Tasty wins for Blas champions!
The best of the best in Irish food was celebrated at Blas na hÉireann, The Irish Food Awards last month. Here, Blas hÉireann chairman Artie Clifford introduces the awards and we shine a spotlight on the deserving winners from the Blas na hÉireann Winners Showcase
2 December 2022 | 0
“We were delighted to welcome producers, buyers, finalists and food lovers back to Dingle this year for Blas na hÉireann, the Irish food Awards and to launch the new Blas Village
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 and buyers across the country to come together and celebrate the very best of Irish food and drink for our first in-person event in three years. As well as the awards being held here, our finalists and winners had the opportunity to showcase their products, engage with customers and meet key industry figures.
We were thrilled to see so many buyers return to Dingle with such enthusiasm for the finalist products, with many new relationships formed which will lead to exciting new listings in the coming year.
After a three-year hiatus from an in-person event, having a three-day celebration with the addition of the Blas Village and Eat Ireland in a Day was worth the wait, along with the excitement of the awards, it was a fantastic few days of focused networking, catch-ups and creating new connections and I am delighted that we were able to showcase this exceptional produce to both regular visitors and industry experts in such an approachable and enjoyable way.
We are now in our 15th year and saw a huge increase in entries with almost 3,000 products and many new producers entering the awards for the first time.
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 we 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.”
-Artie Clifford, Blas na hÉireann chairnan
SuperValu producers scoop 119 wins
Producers for SuperValu, Ireland’s number one award-winning supermarket, enjoyed huge success at this year’s Blás na hÉireann awards, taking home an impressive 119 awards.
As Ireland’s largest grocery retailer, SuperValu is committed to sourcing the best of Irish and local food and has long-standing relationships with more than 1,800 Irish food and drinks producers.
SuperValu’s own brand and its Irish brand producers won 46 awards, made up of 13 gold, 18 silver and 14 bronze awards. A special prize for best new product was awarded to Kepak for its SuperValu Irish Beef Dry Aged Striploin.
Meanwhile, SuperValu’s Food Academy food and drink producers picked up a total of 73 awards, made up of 19 gold, 19 silver and 24 bronze as well as five Chef’s Larder’s, five best in county and the Rogha na Gaeltachta award.
These wins included gold and best in county for Clare Jam’s new product Doolin Mustard while newcomer Zingibeer, run by father and daughter Kevin and Rachel Byrne, won gold for its all-natural Ginger Beer.
Impressively, new producers who started with Food Academy in May this year won 13 awards.
“We are delighted that the Blas na hÉireann awards are once again taking place in person after two years of virtual awards and that once again it was a winning year for SuperValu’s producers,” said Ian Allen, managing director, SuperValu.
“At SuperValu we are committed to supporting more Irish food producers than any other retailer and in delivering both the best quality and value for our customers. Working with more than 1,800 Irish food producers we are immensely proud of our award-winning brands and it’s wonderful to see the local suppliers and producers receive the recognition they richly deserve.”
Food made with love and care
At Avoca, the team are passionate about food. Avoca’s ethos is centred around fresh, quality ingredients, Irish provenance and seasonality, and the company says it is “endlessly proud of its team of talented chefs and bakers”.
This year, Avoca was delighted to pick up five awards at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards. The biggest competition for quality Irish produce in the country, Avoca was honoured to take home bronze for its delicious smoked salmon pâté and its famous chocolate and praline cake with hidden smarties. Avoca was also awarded silver for its Immunity Chicken Broth, and gold for its Superberry Granola and Greek Style Cheese Dip with Roasted Tomatoes.
Furthermore, Avoca was also thrilled for so many of its amazing Irish suppliers who also took home prestigious Blas ne hEireann awards. Over 30 Irish suppliers whose products are stocked in Avoca’s food markets were given gold, silver and bronze awards, including The Chocolate Garden of Ireland, Mic’s Chilli, Blanco Nino, Scup, Wicklow Way Wines and Bia Sol to name just a few.
Another exciting step in Avoca’s food journey this year was the release of its brand-new cookbook, Avoca at Home. Over a decade after the release of its last Avoca cookbook, Avoca at Home contains over 100 delicious recipes for everyday and special days, perfect for cooking at home with family or friends.
Avoca is justifiably proud of its passionate team of chefs and bakers who prepare all the company’s meals, cakes and sweet treats with love and care, and of so many of its Irish suppliers who produce the wonderful products Avoca is so proud to stock in its stores.
3 brothers…1 brewery…0 shortcuts!
‘3 brothers…1 brewery…0 shortcuts!’ That’s the motto of the three Wicklow brothers who form O Brother Brewing – Barry, Brian and Paddy O’Neill – and it certainly seems to be standing to them. Together with head brewer, Rich Barrett, O Brother Brewing has established itself as one of Ireland’s highest-rated independent breweries, earning the adoration of beer lovers and beer judges alike.
Adding to the brewery’s tally of 17 international awards, its Nightcrawler Milk Stout achieved a Finalist place in this year’s Blas na hÉireann awards, which Barry says was a massive achievement for the team.
“O Brother Brewing was set up with a mission to brew beers that excite and delight the senses on every level,” Barry says, “and to break down the barriers that prevent beer lovers from discovering and experiencing fresh Irish beer at its very best!
Stout in Ireland is a very traditional style, and the market here is utterly dominated by one mega-brand, so it’s a massive achievement for us to have our ‘Nightcrawler’ as a Finalist at Blas – particularly since it’s a modern, slightly sweet stout with chocolate and vanilla-cream notes from the milk sugar we use. It’s a lovely break from the traditional dry style of stout that most people are used to.”
Working with some of Ireland’s most talented street artists on their labels (EMIC, ADW, OMIN, FRIZ and Shane O’Malley to name a few) and collaborating with innovative artisan producers (think Cloudpicker Coffee, and Bean and Goose chocolatiers), the lads always make sure there is something new and interesting going on in their quest to create a better beer experience.
For further information, contact Barry O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Distributed in Ireland via Fourcorners.
Baking up a storm
Following an Irish sweepstake win, O’Haras of Foxford was founded in 1951 by Michael and Maureen O’Hara and is now in the third generation of the Family business. The modern facility is situated on the outskirts of Foxford, Co. Mayo where the company currently employs close to 200 people with the majority from the surrounding locality.
Renowned as one of the most successful traditional bread producers in the country, O’Haras was originally known for bread products but has since gained an equally impressive reputation for cake production since it diversified into the cake sector in the early 1980s.
Since 2018, O’Haras of Foxford has won 15 separate Blas na hÉireann Awards. This year alone saw the company win the best overall producer in Mayo and Connacht. Speaking at the awards ceremony, Julie O’Hara said: “We would like to thank Artie, Fallon and all the team in Blás na hÉireann for acknowledging Irish producers and showcasing Irish products, highlighting the fine food and drink that Ireland has to offer.”
The bakery’s flagship product is the Premium White Sliced, which has a unique baking process of a longer bake. This results in the crust the Mayo bakery has become famous for. Being one of the biggest producers of Christmas cakes in the country, the bakery is very proud of its numerous Blas na hÉireann awards in the Christmas cake category.
Producing over 140 bread and cake products and distributing nationwide to all the major retailers and independent stores, O’Hara’s has come a long way since that 1951 sweepstakes win
Shaking up the shack!
What started out as a quest to produce an alternative hot sauce to the two leading brands used in nearly every restaurant around the country, which was healthy, vegan, free from allergens and suitable for gluten intolerance and above all, tasted amazing, has since grown to national acclaim.
As a result, the amazingly flavoursome Grill Shack Peri Peri Sauce was conceived. This innovative sauce, made with love in The Grill Shack restaurant in Co. Kildare by its Michelin trained chef and owner Aidan has proved highly popular with customers and within the food industry and retail.
Impressively, it achieved a bronze title in the prestigious Blàs na hÉireann awards in September. The Grill Shack Peri Peri Sauce is a hot tangy spicy sauce oozing flavours of lemon and garlic with hints of oregano and basil. This spicy versatile sauce bursting with layered flavour can be used to add flavour to everything, before cooking as a marinade or after cooking it can enhance any meat or vegetables. From salads to wings, stir-fries, pasta, ribs, dips, adding bang to your burger or even amping up the dry Christmas turkey leftovers. The list is endless.
From novice chefs to barbecue heroes to busy mums and dads or gym enthusiasts, this sauce is sure to please everyone and one in a range of great tasting sauces available, The Grill shack Peri Peri is part of its hot sauce range, which includes Original Hot Sauce, The Grill Shack Triple X and The Grill Shack Smoked Whisky all available at Thegrillshack.ie.
According to the group, the journey from modest beginnings to national-level recognition, has only been possible with the help and support of its amazing staff and customers. Also, the local and national retailers who believed in its sauces and the many many loyal consumers who bought its range of hot sauces online. “We envisage the Peri Peri Grill Shack Sauce to be nationwide by 2023 so an exciting year lies ahead,” say the team.
Follow The Grill Shack or contact the team on Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok, Thegrillshackdonadea and Thegrillshack.ie.
Aldi’s Irish producers scoop 41 accolades
Aldi is proud to work with a network of over 330 Irish producers all year round so when it came to Blas na hÉireann Awards 2022 it came as no surprise that Aldi had so many products held in high regard.
Aldi and its network of remarkable Irish food producers once again triumphed at the awards winning a total of 41 awards across several categories. The impressive haul includes 11 gold medals, 15 silver medals, and 15 bronze medals.
Aldi’s gold medal-winning products were produced by ABP Meats, Alltech Beverage Division Ireland Ltd, Armagh Cider, Dawn Meats, Donegal Rapeseed Oil, IGWT Poultry, Kestrel Foods, Lir Chocolates Ltd, Loughnane’s of Galway, Silver Hill Duck and Vanilla Bean Patisserie.
Top accolades went to several of Aldi’s Bord Bia Quality Assured 100% Irish meats namely, ABP Cahir’s Butcher’s Selection Irish Beef Quarter pounder with Smokey Bacon Seasoning, Dawn Meat’s Specially Selected West of Ireland Lamb Guard of honour, Silver Hill Duck’s Duck breast fillets, IGWT Poultry’s Specially Selected Exquisite Hand Plucked Organic Bronze Whole Turkey and Loughnane’s of Galway’s Specially Selected White Pudding.
Other Aldi products which received the prestigious honour of a gold medal included Mamia Strawberry Strings in the Baby Food category, Roisin’s Salted Caramel Crunch Egg produced by Lir Chocolates Ltd, Vanilla Bean Patisserie’s Lime Fruit Curd, Specially Selected Cold Pressed Irish Rapeseed Oil produced by Donegal Rapeseed Oil, Brown Bear Double IPA produced by Alltech Beverage Division and a wonderful dry cider produced by Armagh Cider.
“At Aldi, we consider quality and provenance to be the cornerstones of our success,” said John Curtin, group buying director at Aldi Ireland.
“We pride ourselves on working closely with local suppliers to offer our customers only the finest of Irish produce at affordable prices. That’s why we are so thrilled to have enjoyed another successful year at the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards, which set the standard for quality Irish food and drink. We wish to congratulate our producers and the buying teams for this well-deserved recognition.”
Big result for Little Red’s
Little Red’s Hot Sauce has been crowned Ireland’s best hot sauce at this year’s prestigious Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards.
The Dublin based company claimed gold in the savoury sauces category for its signature Everyday Hot Sauce which utilises an innovative cooking process using naturally fermented chillies and garlic, slowly matured to achieve a unique flavour synonymous with Little Red’s sauces.
Originally established in 2020 and recently a successful member of SuperValu’s Food Academy programme, Little Red’s is committed to using locally sourced, natural ingredients with no added sugar and free from chemical additives. The company employs a range of traditional and modern fermentation techniques which combine to create a sustainable, eco-friendly production process. The result is a unique blend of sauces that explode with flavour and leave consumers wanting more.
“We’re extremely proud of our gold award win at this year’s Blas na hÉireann,” said Shane Doherty, owner, Little Red’s Sauces. “It’s a great achievement to be recognised at the most prestigious Irish food awards and we are honoured to be named ‘Best Savoury Hot Sauce’ in Ireland. As an Irish company these industry wins really help demonstrate the quality of our product. Winning this award is a testament to our hard work and dedication in delivering a truly unique, Irish hot sauce which we look forward to offering customers around the country.”
Little Red’s Everyday Hot Sauce is now available to purchase in stores and online at https://www.littleredssauces.com/.
Festive winter warmers
Christmas get-togethers will be in full swing soon and whether you are looking to curate the perfect Christmas cocktail, skip the booze or serve up drinks for the whole family, Naturally Cordial has a selection of delicious flavours that allow everyone to join in the festive cheer.
Produced in Wexford, these award-winning cordials are made from organic citrus and local Irish soft fruits and use just four natural ingredients; water, fruit, sugar and a small quantity of citric acid.
Its cordials come in 500ml bottles and the favourite festive flavours are Cranberry & Orange and Wexford Blackcurrant. Both can be enjoyed in a signature cocktail like a Sidecar or a Madras, they work brilliantly when used to make a fruity mocktail using soda water and fresh fruit or why not enjoy them warm? They make a delicious alternative to mulled wine when heated with spices and fruit.
Check out its website to discover the world of Naturally Cordial and easy recipes to create delicious drinks at www.naturallycordial.ie.
Naturally Cordial is stocked in selected SuperValu stores nationwide, independent retailers and artisan stores.
Taste above all else
O’Donnells Hand-Cooked Crisps are the leading hand-cooked crisp brand in Ireland.
Currently holding 12.3% value market share of the crisp category*, O’Donnells is the third largest crisp brand in the Irish market. Over the last decade, Ireland has fallen in love with the premium quality and great tasting flavours of O’Donnells.
The experts have spoken, and O’Donnells thrilled to announce that it is now the most awarded crisp in Ireland. Throughout 2022, O’Donnells was awarded 20 prestigious quality awards, highlighting the exemplary quality of Ireland’s number one hand-cooked crisp brand.
O’Donnells was delighted to win Silver for O’Donnells Mature Cheese & Red Onion at the recent Blas na hEireann awards. Its O’Donnells Mature Cheese & Red Onion crisps boast the creamy flavour of mature Irish cheddar blended with the sweet, mellow hit of red onion to create the rich taste of Ireland’s number one hand-cooked crisps.
As 2022 draws to a close, O’Donnells is supported with the Taste Above All Else campaign. The campaign is currently live on Radio, video on demand (VOD), social, digital and in-store, driving awareness and mental availability for O’Donnells.
*(Source: Nielsen MAT Value Sales October 9, 2022, Crisps)
Centra producers win 22 awards at Blas na hÉireann 2022
Convenience retailer Centra’s Irish producers have claimed 22 awards at this year’s Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards.
Celebrating and rewarding the very best tasting Irish food and drink products, the Blas na hÉireann awards are the biggest blind tasting of produce in the country.
Ireland’s number one convenience retailer, Centra’s producers take home six gold, nine silver and seven bronze awards. The big wins include five products from the premium Inspired by Centra range, expertly created to bring shoppers value without compromising on taste or quality.
Award-winners within the Inspired by Centra range include Inspired by Centra Angus Sirloin Steak with Peppercorn Butter (Kepak Ltd.), Inspired by Centra Salmon Sensation (Dunn’s of Dublin), Inspired by Centra Lamb Tagine (Ballymaguire Foods), Inspired by Centra Mexican Style Sweet Potato and Bean Salad (Wonderfoods) and Inspired by Centra Cold Pressed Ginger Shot (Sunshine Juice Ltd.).
Other key award winners from the Centra range include Centra Crème Fraiche (Clona Dairy Products), Centra Chicken with Garam Masala Soup 400g (Ballymaguire Foods) and Centra Gold Blend Tea Bags (Bewleys).
“Blas na hÉireann are the largest food awards on the island and we’re very proud to have taken 22 accolades at the 2022 awards,” said Ian Allen, managing director, Centra.
“We work closely with our high-quality Irish suppliers, and we are delighted that so many of our local producers and their products have received the recognition they deserve at these esteemed awards,” he continued. “We’re delighted to see five winners from our Inspired by Centra range which uses the highest quality home grown ingredients to deliver the very best tasting products to our customers at stores nationwide.”
Blas na hÉireann named Pizza da Piero the gold winner of the continental breads category at The Irish Food Awards. This is the second year Pizza da Piero has won gold, having also been awarded gold in 2020.
“We are so thankful for the support we have got from households around the country who buy our pizza bases every week, and to Blas na hEireann for recognising our hard work, grazie mille.” says Piero, co-founder and director at Pizza da Piero.
In 2007, Piero was making fresh pizza bases for his Irish wife Cliona and their friends. Back then there was no good quality, Italian pizza available to buy in Ireland and that’s when this couple with a passion for great food had the idea to set up their bakery.
Pizza da Piero creates authentic Italian pizza bases like no other. Vegan or meat lover, these pizza bases are perfect as a quick and easy dinner, whether your customers are entertaining at home, whipping up a protein packed lunch after your gym workout, or looking for a healthy afterschool meal for the kids. A crisp, light base with a unique flavour, it’s easy to see why Pizza da Piero became the ‘fakeaway’ of choice for Irish homes.
The real deal!
All Real Nutrition is a mission-led nutrition company based in County Kerry. Using natural ingredients, All Real offers high protein products to their customer base of everyday athletes, adventurers, or those aiming to make better choices when it comes to their health or the world around them.
All Real Nutrition is best known for its natural protein bars. However, earlier this year, All Real Nutrition expanded its product range by adding three delicious flavours of protein nut butter to its website and in-store offering. The nut butter range offers 10g of protein per serving and less calories than other peanut butter products. Each jar of nut butter sold prevents the equivalent of five plastic bottles from entering the ocean, through All Real’s collaboration with Plastic Bank. The three flavours include original peanut butter, choc fudge and the most popular flavour – salted caramel.
All Real Salted Caramel Nut Butter is enriched with grass-fed Irish milk protein. Not only does this increase the protein content but also delivers a smooth and extra creamy taste. This is balanced with Irish Atlantic Sea Salt and a natural caramel flavouring to provide a healthy and nutritious nut butter that feels like a treat.
Since launching in May, All Real Salted Caramel Nut Butter has been a popular choice in many recipes – pancakes, smoothies, yogurt bowls, brownies, cheesecakes, and in many cases, has been enjoyed straight from the jar. This flavour is a staff favourite, once you try you’ll know why!
Roasting speciality coffee: An inside peek
Roasting speciality coffee is part art and part science. It takes practice, patience, and focus. Adam, the head roaster at Velo Coffee Roasters, has taken the coffee to new levels, developing award-winning coffees year after year. Velo sources speciality coffee from its partners around the globe. Ratnagiri Estate and Finca las Mercedes are the farms that have grown Velo’s Blas na hÉireann Gold winning coffees, exemplifying how speciality coffee all begins at the farm. It is the time and dedication put in at the start, ensuring that the soil is healthy, the coffee berries are harvested by hand at peak ripeness and sustainable growth practices are used that starts the process of roasting delicious coffee.
Once a fresh batch of coffee arrives, the fun begins in the roastery. Adam roasts on a Probat roaster from Germany, which is designed using years of their expertise alongside best in class technology. He roasts each coffee to its own profile to draw out all the best flavours and aromas. Then, patience is key here, the coffee is set to rest. If the coffee is not rested long enough, you risk losing all its richness and complexity. The whole Velo Squad gets to join in and taste the coffee in a process called cupping. They make sure the coffees from the core range are consistent and delicious and try out all the new blends. Quality and consistency are the key pillars in creating speciality coffee from the farm to roasting.
That is the journey that brings your coffee to your cup each morning.
Zing-ing up the ginger beer scene
There was a real hum about town this year about the newcomer Zingibeer. Who are they and what it is? Father and daughter duo Kevin and Rachel Byrne have set out to establish Zingibeer as Ireland’s first and premier ginger beer brand. Zingibeer is a delicious traditional ginger beer made using fermented ginger, lemon zest and botanicals.
At 4% ABV, Zingibeer is the refreshing thirst quencher you didn’t know you were waiting for; a ginger beer not only for “the ginger beer drinker”. The newcomers to the Irish drink scene scooped up two awards this year, winning bronze for Ireland in the World Beer Awards and most proudly taking home gold in the competitive category ‘fermented alcoholic beverages’ at Blas na hÉireann. Uniquely positioned as the only ginger beer on draught, Zingibeer sets to take its place as the clean label alternative to the draught ciders and beers that have dominated for so long.
Zingibeer is gluten free, vegan friendly, sulphite free and contains only natural ingredients. Also available in 500ml bottles, Zingibeer is stocked in off-licences nationwide. See zingibeer.ie for stockists. Distributed by Grand Cru Beers; phone: 01- 8307 821.
For sales enquires, contact email@example.com or +353879040111.