Over 25,000 visitors expected for Savour Kilkenny 2015 – Festival of Food

Food Festival encourages young producers with new focus on careers in food

Launching its ninth festival today, Savour Kilkenny 2015 – Festival of Food has seen the number of visitors it attracts grow from 1,500 in 1996 to 22,000 last year. The festival is being officially launched at the Department of Agriculture by Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence.

Also supporting the festival’s launch is entrepreneur and Kilkenny native, Bobby Kerr and Ann Phelan, TD (Carlow/Kilkenny), Minister of State at the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Transport, Tourism and Sport with Special Responsibility for Rural Economic Development.

The manufacture of food and drinks products is now Ireland’s most important indigenous industry, with an annual turnover approaching €24 billion.* Supporting this sector, Savour Kilkenny 2015 is announcing a new focus this year on young food producers and promoting careers in the food industry.

A long-established food destination, boasting two Michelin starred restaurants, the festival brings a significant boost in spend and tourism to Kilkenny. Over 520 hotel rooms were booked for the event last year with an increase of ten percent projected for this year’s event and an anticipated 25,000 visitors.

The number of exhibitors has also increased by over 500 per cent percent from 15 exhibitors in its first year to over 80 confirmed for 2015. Its biggest festival yet – Savour Kilkenny 2015 will take place over the Bank Holiday Weekend, October 22nd – 26th on the city’s Parade Plaza by Kilkenny Castle.

Featuring at the festival and attending today’s launch are some ‘Future Food Stars’ from Kilkenny.

  • Sarah Kehoe (19), a volunteer with Savour Kilkenny now studying Culinary Arts in WIT. Sarah keeps her own herd of Simmental cattle for breeding and hopes to be a food producer in the future “bringing something new to the market”.
  • Sisters Éabha (16) and Doireann (14) Sloyan. Doireann has already won a Young Chef award and Éabha plans to study at Ballymaloe this year. Their pumpkin soup and rustic brown breads went down a treat at last year’s festival.
  • Lauren Hennessy (15) whose love of food was inspired by her great-grandmother. She was shortlisted for a major national award broadcast on TV when she was just 13. Lauren plans to work in the food industry and is very ambitious. She would love her own bakery and TV show.

‘Open Door’ hosted by Thomastown’s ‘School of Food’ will feature an educational hub offering young people the chance to hear about opportunities in the food industry and meet employers in the sector. The festival will also host its highly-anticipated Young Food Producers Market (aged 10 – 17) selling their delicious homemade produce. All young producers featuring in the festival get the opportunity to undertake a Food Safety Course before exhibiting which is proving a major draw.

This year’s festival highlights, with most events free, include Neven Maguire, ‘The Happy Pear’ Flynn brothers; a festival debut by Mark Moriarty, Best Young Chef in the World 2015; Rory O’ Connell, Ballymaloe Cookery School; a Chocolate Master Class with TV chef, Edward Hayden, ‘A Taste of Japan’ pop-up with Fiona Uyema; gluten-free demonstrations by Chef Gearoid Lynch and baker Denise O’ Callaghan, farm and foraging, and exciting craft beer events.

A new focus on mental health and food will see ‘Bressie’ (Niall Breslin) share his personal story in ‘Feed your Mind & Eat yourself Calm’ exploring nutrition and its effects on good mental health. This event will be presented by All-Star hurler Michael Fennelly, a lecturer in Nutrition and Coaching on Tuesday evening, October 20th in The Set Theatre, Kilkenny.

With a packed schedule for children too, the festival features Junior Master Chef 2015 at Kilkenny Cookery School and ‘Weave a Willow Fence’, family fun creating a permanent installation with skilled weavers. Families can also enjoy the festival’s giant nine metre ‘Pig’ theatre at Kilkenny Castle featuring special ten minute shows with lots of surprises!

See savourkilkenny.com