Celebrity chef Edward Hayden urges industry to get behind Kilkenny Food Strategy

Gathered for the launch were celebrity chef, Edward Hayden along with Business Advisor with Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kilkenny, Catherine Hennessy, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership CEO, Declan Rice, Canadian-based food expert, President & CEO of Culinary Tourism Alliance, Rebecca MacKenzie and James Burke, James Burke & Associates.
Picture Dylan Vaughan

The 70 plus contributors to the new Kilkenny Food Strategy will be the key people to ensure the vision becomes a reality, renowned strategist, James Burke said.

He said his team and the staff at Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kilkenny and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership guided the way but that it’s now up to the local industry to make it happen.

His comments came as celebrity chef, Cookery School entrepreneur and Course Leader in Culinary Arts in WIT, Edward Hayden launched the Kilkenny Food Vision 2020- 2025: “Add 3 Ingredients”.

The Strategy focuses on three high-level objectives which the stakeholders believe will have long-term and broad-based strategic impact for food culture in the County and adjacent region to which it is closely linked.

“This will only work if it is locally owned. If people get involved, get behind it. A food development office will be required to drive this – the magic in this is that you would have a driver to achieve the outlined goals,” Mr Burke said.

Officially launching the Vision, Edward Hayden said: “There’s a great level of culinary integrity in Kilkenny. Kathleen Moran led the way and I was very fortunate to have started out in this industry working for her. She served local food on local crockery and was one of the key drivers of our unique food culture in Kilkenny.

“Kilkenny today is a fabulous food destination. We have amazing food producers, culinary tours, restaurants, hotels etc – all offering a very high standard experience. It’s a challenging industry and it’s a challenging time. I’ve yet to meet a wealthy food producer. Everything they make is pumped back into their business. We need to get a cohort of a few good people together who can put their hands up, shoulders back and chests out to support one another and make this Vision a reality,” he said.

The Kilkenny Food Strategy vision is that it will become Ireland’s strongest local food economy and food culture hub and increase the amount of local food and beverages on menus and retail shelves in the county, growing local food consumption by 30% over the next three to five years.

The Food Vision development process involved over 70 local stakeholder inputs, initially led and supported by a partnership of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kilkenny and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP).  It maps the pathway for growth of the local sector in Kilkenny city and county and the surrounding hinterland over the next three to five years.