Niall McKenna, a ‘Mover and Shaker’

The winners of the 2022 Georgina Campbell Irish Food & Hospitality Awards have been announced with a top accolade for Niall McKenna of James Street South group. He was awarded the Movers and Shakers Award.

In her citation, Georgina Campbell said “That Belfast chef and restaurateur Niall McKenna is a man on a mission is no secret. He has a culinary vision for Belfast that may well date back two decades, to when he and his wife
Joanne opened the acclaimed fine dining venue James Street South and the adjacent Bar & Grill – all now reimagined as James St.

“Their excellent Hadskis on Commercial Court closed this year but, far from being the negative move that might be expected in these daunting times, it was all part of the grand plan – to create a major hospitality hub in the city’s Cathedral Quarter. The whole Hadskis team moved over to open a new restaurant at Waterman House, a Grade B listed Bushmills bonded warehouse that is also home to the former James St Cookery School – and Waterman Restaurant soon became one of Belfast’s hottest dining destinations. So now the cookery school and the restaurant are in place, along with conference and event spaces. There’s plenty going on to appeal to different ages and interests, so the buzz is growing. It’s big city but one man’s vision is near to becoming reality, and it’s all the better for that.”

Celebrating 24 years in their current incarnation, the Georgina Campbell Awards recognise and honour Ireland’s standard-bearers in food and hospitality with particular focus, this year, on those who have maintained standards across the board in the face of post- pandemic energy and staffing crises, among many other challenges – and the brave newcomers who, against the odds, continue to delight with inspiring new businesses. Georgina Campbell’s Ireland’s rigorous programme of anonymous assessment visits is a year-round process and winners are nominated solely by an independent assessment team.