Gourmand World Cookbook Award

Esther Barron

Barrons Bakery, Cappaquin

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards started in 1995 and this year the ceremony was held in Paris on 6 March.   The top four books, in each category, in the world are selected for the final and this year 162 countries were represented.  There are nine different categories and they include “Best Authors and Chefs”, Best Publishers”,  “The World of Wine” and “Subjects”.  The Subjects category includes fish, cheese and bread among others. In the Bread section “Our Daily  Bread, a History of Barrons Bakery” came in second place, ahead of the USA and Sweden, while the winner was Portugal.

This is great recognition for Barrons Bakery, for  County  Waterford and Ireland.  This achievement is a huge team effort and Barrons Bakery wish to thank Roz Crowley, author; Arna Run Runarsdottir, photographer; Tony O ‘Hanlon, design; our superb staff and last but by no means least, our truly loyal and supportive customers.

It was most interesting to hear the brief  comments from each winner as they accepted their award, but especially from some of the South American and Asian countries.  They emphasised how important this award was for their country in terms of their food and their tourism.  For a country as small as Ireland, we certainly are well known world wide for these economic activities.  Yet on reflection, during the so called “Celtic Tiger”, some of our leaders acted as if agriculture and  tourism were no longer important for our country, our economy was progressing in a better direction!   Thankfully reality has made us realise  that agriculture and tourism  are our strengths and have always been a key part of our economy.

A short trip to Paris reminds one of the French food culture and their respect and knowledge of good food.   Every street has it’s baker, butcher and specialist food shop.  There is an association between the small local food producer, the traditional  retailer and the  enthusiastic and knowledgeable consumer.  It has been like this for a long time in France, they have not changed it because it works to the advantage of all three links in the producer-retailer-consumer chain.  But in Ireland , this chain is very weak and mostly absent , because one element  of the chain is allowed to dominate it, to the detriment of all the others. Unfortunately this has not happened by chance.   The situation here is dominance by major retailers and consumers led into seeking the cheapest product all the time.  This imbalance leads to the producer and consumer losing out all the time and the only retailer to survive is the biggest one.

The present edition of the Aer Lingus in flight magazine – Cara, has a wonderful feature on County Waterford  that makes the area very attractive to tourists and visitors.  But the snacks served on flight are not sourced in Ireland!  What is wrong with top quality Irish food and where is the link between this excellent promotion and putting it into practice?  Likewise, the amount of food being imported into Ireland that can be grown here , is another example of lost opportunity for sustainable and worthwhile careers that are badly needed in the economy right now and into the future.

The upcoming Waterford Festival of Food (12 – 15 April), will be a great opportunity  to savour the food produced in the area and meet  all the  people involved in this great food culture.  This Festival is a fine example of all elements of the food chain, producer-retailer-consumer working in association together, both during the Festival and all year round.

Well done Ester from all in the FCBA.