International taste award for Northern Irish Mill Bay Oysters

Food NI member Rooney Fish, Northern Ireland’s leading fish and seafood processor, has won major awards from the influential International Taste and Quality Institute in Brussels for its oysters.

Rooney, based at Kilkeel in county Down, gained two top awards for its Mill Bay Oysters, which are grown and harvested in the pristine waters of Carlingford Lough.

The oysters were the only food and drink product from Northern Ireland to be recognised for their taste and quality by a panel of expert chefs and were among almost 2,000 entries from 90 countries.

Andrew Rooney, commercial director of Rooney Fish, commenting on the award of gold and blue stars for superior products, says: “This is a tremendously important endorsement of our oysters from an international taste body. It’s a great boost for us as we continue to market our oysters to high-end customers in international markets.

“The recognition follows our outstanding success in the UK Great Taste Awards in successive years,” he adds.

Rooney Fish is a family owned and managed business which processes fish and shellfish, including langoustines, crabs and crabs claws, for export in particular to international markets in Europe and Asia.

The company operates from a state-of-the-art processing plant at the harbour in Kilkeel.

The International Taste & Quality Institute – iTQi – based in Brussels is the world’s leading organisation dedicated to certifying the taste of food and drink products.

Judges are selected from the 15 most prestigious European culinary and sommeliers associations: the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, Academy of Culinary Arts, Hellenic Chefs’ Association, Académie Culinaire de France, Verband der Köche Deutschlands, Federación de Asociaciones de Cocineros de España, Federerazione dei Cuochi Italiana, Årets Kock of Sweden, Euro-Toques, Gilde Van Nedrlandse Meesterkoks, Associação de Cozinheiros Profisionais de Portugal, Craft Guild of Chefs, Turkish Cooks Association, World Master Chefs Society (WMCS) and the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI).

The judges, carefully selected by iTQi and these organisations, have been trained for many years to taste food products. They have exercised their profession in Europe but also, in countries as diversified as Japan, China, Thailand, Australia, North, Central and South America. They are passionate and enthusiastic in their ongoing discovery for new flavours from unknown products wherever the origin may be.