The annual Euro-Toques Food Awards aim to recognise the very best artisan food producers currently working in Ireland. The recipients are voted on by Euro-Toques chefs who themselves subscribe to the highest standards in sourcing ingredients and culinary excellence.
The awards, which were established in 1996 by the members of the Euro-Toques Food Committee and based on an idea by legendary Irish chef Myrtle Allen, include a wide range of categories from makers of hand-cooked crisps, farmhouse cheeses, grass-fed poultry and dairy products to artisanal beers and spirits. They can be established family businesses or new one-person operations seeking to bring superb new produce to the market.
There are currently about 3,500 small to medium-sized food businesses operating in Ireland. Euro-Toques chefs enjoy working directly with theses producers and acknowledge that the quality of the food being produced in Ireland contributes to the success of their restaurants. By working together, food producers and top chefs are helping to enhance Ireland’s reputation around the world as a location for the finest food and highest-quality restaurants.
The Euro-Toques Food Awards support that by recognising excellence, home-grown talent and entrepreneurship in Irish food production. These awards are also unique in that nominations are made by Euro-Toques members themselves, with the winners then carefully selected by the Euro-Toques Food Committee, which is made up of chefs from all over the country.
The Euro-Toques Food Awards also honour individuals or organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to food in Ireland, whether through food writing, research, lobbying or hands-on involvement in food.
The nominees for the prestigious Euro-Toques Food Awards are chosen at the beginning of each year by Euro-Toques member chefs and cooks. Members nominate a small number of outstanding Irish food producers who they believe provide an excellent product or service to chefs and consumers and those who produce food of notable flavour and quality. These producers include farmers, fishermen and food-makers who make it possible for chefs to create superb meals by providing them with the best local produce. The focus is on the quality of the food produced as well as on the production methods that preserve the traditions and heritage of the Irish food and beverage, farming and fishing industries.
Regional chef meetings are held regularly between small groups of chefs at local level, where producers are invited to meet chefs or provide their product for tasting. Local food producers are discussed and occasionally visited by the chefs.
The list of chosen suppliers is then submitted to the Euro-Toques Food Council. The Council arranges visits, product tastings, gathers additional information and then deliberates on the nominees, putting a firm focus on flavour, how the product is made, what goes into it, what impact it has on the environment as well as various other considerations.
The committee then short-lists the products or producers who they believe most deserve to be recognised in any particular year, with usually five awards being presented annually.
No producer can be in the running unless they have been nominated by a Euro-Toques chef who believes in and buys that product to put on their menu. This is crucial to the integrity of the awards. The annual Euro-Toques Food Awards event takes place between May and June. This includes the prestigious awards ceremony as well a wine and canape reception, that acts as a showcase for the winning produce. It is a unique opportunity for chefs and producers to come together in a celebration of Irish food.