Local food heroes from across Northern Ireland are being challenged to step up to the plate by entering the national Delicious Produce Awards which annually honour the best in small-to-medium scale, artisan-produced food and drink.
This year top chefs, food & drink writers and culinary experts will judge nine categories in nine regional heats right across the UK.
The Northern Ireland heat is set to delight food fans at the annual Irish Game Fair at Shanes Castle, Antrim, on Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24.
This regional heat, held in the award-winning Fisher & Paykel home appliance kitchen at Shanes Castle, will be overseen by chef, broadcaster, cookery teacher and champion of small producers, Valentina Harris.
Albert Titterington, Director of Great Game Fairs of Ireland, sees the new partnership as an important, and potentially profitable, ‘shop window’ for Northern Ireland businesses.
He said: “We have always championed great local food producers at the Irish Game Fair at Shanes Castle. This year, we will be marking our 40th Fair anniversary with the largest Irish Game Fair ever as, for this very special year only, we have combined our ROI and NI fairs into one potentially huge all-Ireland extravaganza, and we will be putting land and larder centre-stage.
“Our ambitious Fine Foods element, led by celebrity chef Emmett McCourt, will be massively enhanced and the public at Shanes Castle can expect some terrific new tastes and sensational sampling … demonstrating natural quality that, to my mind, is beyond compare.
“Our focus on home grown and home produced excellence sits very happily with the ethos of the fair: that of promoting and defending the best of Irish rural life.
“The Delicious Produce Awards will bring an exciting extra dimension as our new partnership with Delicious opens the door to still wider audiences and important new commercial opportunities at the Game Fair.
The Awards, run in association with home appliance company Fisher & Paykel, seek to identify and honour dedicated and skilful producers who grow, rear or manufacture products they are proud of, with a firm focus on quality and sustainability. The 2018 Awards feature nine categories, including a new drinks category (soft and alcoholic).