LAYING ON A FEAST The Midsummer Banquet chefs, Emma Jennings (Pantry & Corkscrew) , Fergal Colleran (Hotel Westport), José Barroso (Sol Rio), Eoin McDonnell (Wyatt Hotel), Shteryo Yurukov (Sage, Westport), Linda Rogers (Hotel Westport) and Xavier Blondel (Westport Plaza).
Westport Food Festival has really found its stride, turning the town into a veritable foodie paradise for the three-day festival. A firm favourite with holiday-making foodies, there is no shortage of willing food producers, restaurants, hotels and indeed chefs to ensure the festival’s success.
The undisputed highlight was the sell-out Midsummer Banquet, held in the romantic surroundings of Westport House on what must have been the most beautiful night of the year.
Long dresses, elegantly coiffed hair and black ties looked the part sipping local Conncullin Gin or summery Pimms on the steps of the gracious old mansion. The eight course tasting menu which followed was a triumph of planning and execution by the team of eight local chefs led by festival chairman Eoin McDonnell from The Wyatt Hotel: Shteryo Yurukov (Sage, Westport), Emma Jennings (Pantry & Corkscrew), José Barroso (Sol Rio), Linda Rogers (Hotel Westport), Xavier Blondel (Westport Plaza), Fergal Colleran (Hotel Westport) and Rosario Dias (Westport Woods Hotel). Wine pairings from Cabot and Co guaranteed a perfect match for their fabulous fare.
The remainder of the festival weekend was a blur of food-related action. The Food Village on The Fairgreen boasted an excellent market. In the festival marquee a series of demonstrations by local chefs, including the dynamic pairing of artisan butcher Seán Kelly (Kelly’s Butchers, Newport) with chef Alan Fitzmaurice (The Glasshouse, Sligo). While Seán demonstrated expertly how to ‘break down’ various cuts of local ‘seaspray’ lamb, Alan deftly transformed each cut into a mouthwatering dish.
A series of workshops kept the youngsters happy decorating cupcakes and making pizzas. Those who had energy to spare (plenty of them) enjoyed the fast and furious ‘Food Race’ where they balanced plates of fruit while negotiating an obstacle course.
On the education side, foraging walks by the seashore and in woodland were a huge success. A gin workshop with Mayo’s newest distillery, Lough Mask Distillers, went down a treat – as did guided tours of Mescan Brewery and the Oyster Farm at Croagh Patrick Seafoods.
A celebration of food in all its forms, Westport Food Festival was full of fun, frivolity, learning and, of course, sampling and savouring – all topped off with a little midsummer magic at the banquet.
Festival committee member Lesley Emerson was keen to express the committee’s deep gratitude to everyone involved: “We would like to thank everyone who helped to make this year’s festival such a resounding success – the sponsors, the chefs, Westport Athletics Club and anyone who just lent a hand where it was needed. Thank you all.”