A medley of internationally renowned celebrity chefs have thrown their culinary weight behind the campaign which is hotting up to have Derry crowned Ireland’s Foodie Destination 2016 during Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.
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Derry is one of the top ten finalists shortlisted by the Restaurants Association of Ireland for the Foodie Destination title and the only contender from Northern Ireland vying for the gastronomic crown.
Among the top chefs backing Derry’s bid is multi-award winning Michelin starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli who was a huge hit with foodie fans during his special guest appearance at the Clipper Race Kitchens organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council as part of the Foyle Maritime Festival in July this year.
Jean-Christophe, the ‘5 out of 5’ AA Rosette and Michelin chef, who is also dubbed “the nation’s favourite French chef” and heads up the Novelli Academy in Hertfordshire, sampled signature dishes at several local restaurants during his recent overnight visit to Derry.
Sending his best wishes to Derry for the Foodie Destination 2016 title, the TV favourite said: “I was surprised at the number of fabulous places to eat offering such high quality produce and believe more recognition should be given to this part of Ireland.”
Former Coronation Street actor Sean Wilson, who played the role of Martin Platt in the long-running TV soap before following his other passion as a trained chef and cheese-maker of distinction, is also urging everyone to get behind Derry before the public vote closes at 12pm next Friday, September 9th .
Sean, who was the celebrity guest chef at Council’s Big Cheese and Beer Expo in Guildhall Square in April this year, said was impressed by the city’s food offer and the restaurant sector’s commitment to using local produce across its menus.
Northern Ireland’s popular celebrity chefs Paul Rankin, who was one of the star attractions at theLegenDerry Food Festival earlier this year; Jenny Bristow, who wowed the crowds with her demos at the Clipper Race Kitchens; and BBC Radio Ulster’s Paula McIntyre – a stalwart of the city’s food festivals – have also come out in support of Derry’s bid for culinary glory.
Mary Blake, Council’s Tourism Development Officer, said it was great to get international recognition for Derry and thanked Tourism NI and Food NI for their support in bringing the chefs to the city during NI Year of Food and Drink 2016.