Article written by Food NI CEO Michele Shirlow for Farm Week 17/03/2016
Top chef Michael Deane did a marvellous job last week by promoting the best of our food and drink at a series of banquets at the renowned St Regis Hotel in Bangkok city centre.
One of our most respected and innovative Michelin chefs, Michael was invited by the hotel to bring the flavours of Northern Ireland to Bangkok and to craft highly original and outstandingly tasty dishes for hundreds of influential diners, business people and food writers from Thailand and other parts of South East Asia.
I’ve seen the menu for the banquets in the five-star restaurant in what is one of Bangkok’s most popular hotels and I can see why every evening of his week-long stint was booked out. The menu was awesome!
Michael designed a wonderful seven-course banquet and then cooked it with his talented team. All the ingredients were sourced from Northern Ireland suppliers, mostly artisan enterprises.
He also selected fine wines to pair with the dishes. What a tremendous boost it was for our Year of Food and Drink, a campaign that features a strong international dimension designed to support Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland as they seek to accelerate the growth in tourism here.
This exciting campaign has already been launched in London, Dublin and New York and reached out to chefs in other regions including the United Arab Emirates.
An enterprising Michael Deane has now taken the messages about our food and drink to the heart of South East Asia.
He shaped a spectacular menu that showcased Shortcross Gin Cured Salmon, Copeland Island Scallops, Lough Neagh Smoked Eel in Bramley Apple Caramel, Barbecued Cheeks of Fermanagh Pork and Black Pudding. Abercorn Estate Pigeon with Scallion Potato Bread and Carrots in Irish Whiskey, Peter Hannan’s Sugar Pit Cured Beef Rib with Yardmaster Ale and Burnt Onion, Young Buck Cheese in Seaweed Oat Cake and Fresh Rhubarb Poached in Heather Honey and Ice Buttermilk. That’s a menu to savour. I’d have loved to have been there to lend him support! Virtually every region of Northern Ireland was covered.
Michael Deane, of course, has helped to revolutionise the eating out scene in Belfast over the past 15 years. He has held a Michelin Star for 12 years, the longest ever in Ireland and gained this coveted recognition for EIPIC in Belfast last year….and deservedly so. His dedication and achievements have encouraged and stimulated many others across the province and together they have transformed Northern Ireland into a global centre of culinary excellence, a hub for creative, delicious and safe food with heritage and provenance. If you want to see him in action he will be at LegenDerry this Sunday 20th March in Guild Hall Square where you can also see a developing cadre of highly talented chefs who are creating original and authentic dishes from the superb ingredients from our processors and local farms and fishing families.
Our chefs, furthermore, are working increasingly closely with producers on measures that add significant value to their products.
I believe that the best route to growth for many of our smaller and ambitious businesses is through foodservice, developing relationships with individual chefs and distribution operations to see how existing products could be used on their menus or as ingredients for meals or other foods. Brokering such contacts between our members, chefs, producers and foodservice businesses, is one of Food NI’s strategic priorities for 2016 and beyond.