Now Derry should strive to be the City of Food Culture

John McKenna travels the country seeking top restaurants for the Bridgestone Guide.
John McKenna travels the country seeking top restaurants for the Bridgestone Guide.

Food lovers across the country recognise the distinctive blue plaque awarded by Bridgestone as the mark of quality cuisine.

For 25 years hoteliers and restaurateurs have sought to be

listed in what has become the definitive guide to the hospitality industry in Ireland.

Husband and wife team John and Sally McKenna travel the country to select only the very best establishments to feature in the esteemed independent guide.

John McKenna will be in the city to talk about the local food industry as part of Enterprise Week (February 24-28), which is being run by Derry City Council’s Business Opportunities Programme, and part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

An expert in food industries the world over, John is well acquainted with the restaurant scene here and local foodies will be delighted to hear that he believes Derry has the potential to really make its mark on the culinary map.

“The North West is already in a strong position as far as local produce is concerned and I truly believe that after its year as City of Culture, Derry has the potential in 2014 to become the City of Food Culture.

“There are already a number of bright sparks at work in the city - the likes of Ian Orr, Donal Doherty, Patsy O’Kane, and Kevin Pyke - who are out there driving the local food industry forward and raising the standards every day.

“With a successful food culture you will also see the genesis of a successful economic culture.

“It brings tourists in, it brings money in, and that can have a transformative effect on a local business economy. It also filters through to every aspect of the economy from using local produce, to printing menus, creating branding and even furnishing a venue – a good restaurant is both a huge provider and consumer.

“Derry has a number of very talented people who are already changing the industry.

“If you look at Kevin Pyke for example, and how popular his street food has become. Food carts are going to be the story for 2014. It gives people the chance to get started on a low level, you just get a cheap van and get out there on the street – but to make it work you’ve got to be as good as the best, you can’t be mediocre and you have to be even more skilful and more cutting edge,” John McKenna said.