Food Coast Donegal members enjoy great success at Blas na hÉireann 2021 awards

Congratulations to the eight Donegal food businesses that won awards at this year’s Blas na hÉireann Awards. Donegal’s food sector, and the Food Coast Donegal network, was strongly represented at this year’s awards. Donegal Rapeseed Oil won gold and silver, Natural Dairies won gold, silver and bronze, Filligans Handmade Preserves won silver, Green Pastures won silver and bronze, while Errigal Bay, Love a Little Sauces and The Shack also won bronze. Killybegs based Atlantic Treasures won gold and was named winner of the Best in County category, sponsored by Local Enterprise Office Donegal.

Donegal Food Coast

Donegal chef Brian McDermott was announced as the Blas na hÉireann Producers’ Champion 2021. Speaking of his award Brian said: “I’m so chuffed to be announced as the Blas na hÉireann Producers’ Champion for 2021. Being from Donegal I have been so lucky to be surrounded by wonderful produce all my life and seeing that produce used with such respect by my mother growing up stayed with me. I’ve been a long-time supporter of what Artie and the Blas team do each year and I love being part of the process of finding and celebrating great Irish products.”

The Blas na hÉireann Awards celebrate the very best in Irish food and the team has been working tirelessly since March to ensure that Blas 2021 went ahead, sustaining their commitment to celebrating the very best in Irish food and drink. Chairperson Artie Clifford feels that now, more than ever, it is essential to shine a light and give that all important boost to the talented producers dotted around the island.

Commenting on the awards, Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal said, “Over the years, Donegal food businesses have enjoyed great success at these awards, and we are delighted to, once again, have such worthy winners in all eight businesses that were recognized at Blas na hÉireann 2021. Congratulations to all of our Donegal Food Coast members; we wish them every success as they continue to celebrate and share Donegal’s food story.”

“Despite the very challenging situation, we were delighted the 14th annual Blas na hÉireann awards went ahead,” says Artie, “we reported a record entry level from producers right across the island. The large increase in entries raised the bar across all categories, allowing us to introduce new products and producers to the buyers and press with whom we work, which is really exciting. Congratulations to all the winners and to every producer who participated. It is always such a rewarding experience to see the wealth of exceptional foods being produced on the island of Ireland, and 2021 was the best year yet.”

Now in its 14th year, the Blas na hÉireann awards are the all-island food awards that recognise the very best Irish food and drink products, and the passionate people behind them. Blas na hÉireann is the biggest blind tasting of produce in the country; the criteria on which the product is judged, as well as the judging system itself, was developed by Blas na hÉireann with the Food Science Dept of UCC and the University of Copenhagen, and is now recognised as an industry gold standard worldwide.

Products from every county in Ireland were entered into this year’s competition to win Gold, Silver or Bronze Blas na hÉireann awards in over 150 food and drink categories, as well as key awards like Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Producer.

The bronze, silver and gold winners from Donegal across a range of different categories were:

  1. Atlantic Treasures – Gold & Best in County, sponsored by LEO Donegal
  2. Donegal Rapeseed Oil – Gold & Silver
  3. Errigal Bay – Bronze
  4. Filligans Handmade Preserves – Silver
  5. Green Pastures Donegal – Silver & Bronze
  6. Love A Little – Bronze
  7. Natural Dairies – Gold, Silver & Bronze
  8. The Shack – Bronze