Chef JP McMahon.

Hinterland bringing food and culture weekend to Kells

The winter chapter of Hinterland Kells promises to tickle the taste buds when much-loved food personalities travel to Kells to celebrate the theme of food and culture on the first weekend of November, including Darina Allen, JP McMahon, John and Sally McKenna and The Gastro Gays.

The now well-established festival of arts and literature has teamed up with the thriving Boyne Valley Flavours food movement in the region to bring a weekend of discussion, cooking, culture, poetry, live pod casts, drama and, of course, food. The weekend will reflect the seasonal choice of date and is titled ‘Samhain – 5,000 years of Irish Food and Culture.’ 
The event is supported by Failte Ireland and will form part of ‘Taste the Island’, a campaign presented this year for the first time by Fáilte Ireland as the ‘World's Longest Food Festival’ and Kells will be at the heart of the action at the beginning of November.

Sinead Hennessy of Fáilte Ireland added: “We are delighted to have ‘Samhain – 5,000 years of Irish Food’ included under Fáilte Ireland’s new ‘Taste the Island’ initiative, a 12 week celebration of Ireland’s food and drink taking place this September, October and November in conjunction with Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland. Our research tells us that tourists are not always aware of our high-quality produce and the sustainability credentials around our food and drink before visiting - we are aiming to address this lack of awareness and highlight Ireland’s seasonal ingredients, adventurous tastes and bold experiences through ‘Taste the Island’.
Chef Brian McDermott from Donegal will cook from his book the ‘Donegal Table,’ which won Best Cookery Book of 2019 at the World Cookbook Awards, Michael Kelly of RTE’s ‘Grow, Cook, Eat’ will present a family session with a view to inspiring households to grow their own food. There will be sustainability discussions and debate such as ‘The Irish Paradox – The Island that doesn’t eat Fish’ and a ‘Post Brexit Food Landscape’ panel debate, as well as a Chefs Manifesto discussion examining the future responsibilities of the professional kitchen. Regina Sexton of UCC, who has recently launched a Post Graduate Diploma in Irish Food Culture will present a ‘Tribute to Myrtle Allen’ joined by Darina Allen. Darina will celebrate forgotten skills and launch a ‘National Black Pudding Day’ with Hugh Maguire, the Smokin’ Butcher. Other personalities include Michelin Star Chef and Food Writer JP Mc Mahon, Niall Sabongi, Birgitta Curtin, Domini Kemp, Gearoid Lynch, Dr. Mairtin Mac Conimaire and Padraic Og Gallagher.

The success of the Boyne Valley food movement has been largely based around the principles of collaboration and this further enhances that movement. Geraldine Gaughran, chairperson of Hinterland, said: “Food events are always hugely popular in our June festival programme, particularly ones which showcase the excellent Boyne Valley produce, and we believe that discussions on the environmental considerations of food and food sustainability is of vital importance, so having an entire weekend of food and food culture will undoubtedly be enormously interesting and appealing. Our bookshop partner, Antonia's Bookstore, will be with us over the weekend, so it'll be a great opportunity to pick up a book - always a great Christmas gift idea!"

Olivia Duff of the committee from Boyne Valley Flavours said: "Ireland’s food culture is in a wonderful state of revolution, a result of millennia of agriculture, rich fertile landscape and coastline and in more recent times, passionate food producers, collaboration and a belief in food provenance and sustainability, the weekend sets out to celebrate Irelands food culture, past, present and future. 

Celebrating International food culture, Malawian Chef Ellie Kisyombe will bring ‘Our Table’ to Kells for a special intercultural lunch. ‘Our Table’ is a community-driven, non-profit project aiming to highlight the need to end direct provision in Ireland with the goal of facilitating change through conversation over food. There will also be a ‘Samhain Supper’ on the Saturday night with visiting chefs celebrating the subliminal time that is Samhain with toasts, stories and the best of Irish ingredients. Boyne Valley Flavours Brand Ambassadors, the Gastro Gays, will also be doing a live episode of their podcast- Chew the Fat. Outpost events will include milling at Martry, Girley bog walks and Samhain Market at Sheridans Cheesemongers. The weekend will close out with acclaimed food writer and critic, Aoife Carrigy, presenting a humorous recollection of the ‘Irish Pub’ in literature and culture.