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Councils’ ‘Wild about Food’ shortlisted for ‘Best Food Story’ at NI Food Awards this week

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Chef Susan Anderson, Deputy Mayor William McNeilly and Bobby Laughlin from Carrickfergus Beach and Rockers Sea Angling Club.

ust days before the inaugural Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink Awards are due to be held, a joint Council initiative has been announced as being on the shortlist.

‘Wild about Food’ – a collaboration between Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council – was a joint contribution to the Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink 2016 programme that specifically incorporated the Year of Food and Drink monthly themes.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the aim was to celebrate the fantastic local produce available in both the respective Council areas.

Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, William McNeilly, who attended a number of the workshops said: “We are delighted that our ‘Wild about Food’ initiative has been shortlisted for the Best Food Story Award.

“Throughout the programme, participants learned new food preparation skills, found out about local ingredients and learnt about foraging.

“For example, participants foraged for wild garlic and made a wild garlic pesto at Ecos Nature Park in Ballymena and enjoyed learning the traditional skill of sea angling and ‘cooking their catch’ at our ‘Cook Your Catch’ workshop at Blackhead Path, Whitehead,” Ald McNeilly said.

Other workshops included a ‘Love Veg BBQ’ at Eden Allotment Gardens, Carrickfergus, bread baking, ice cream making, and a celebration of the apple harvest at Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead.

The programme was also intended to act as a reminder of the ecosystem processes which continues to provide us with food, air and water reminding everyone of the importance of the natural world.

“With today’s reliance on supermarkets and the assumption that any food can be purchased at any time of the year, this programme aimed to remind people of importance of local produce and how to make the most of ingredients which have not incurred thousands of air miles and the associated carbon foot print,” added the Deputy Mayor.

“The judging panel, made up of highly respected food writers, critics and hospitality experts, were said to have been overwhelmed with the standard of entries for this inaugural year of the awards, so everyone particularly looking forward to the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards itself,” he concluded.

The panel, Charles Campion, Georgina Campbell, Joris Minne and Professor Una-McMahon Beattie met in mid-January to deliberate the entries.

The winners will be announced at the awards evening on Thursday 2 February at the Culloden Estate & Spa.

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