Kilkenny has been named Foodie Destination of the Year for 2018 after months of whittling down nominees to just ten Irish hotspots.
The finalists included Armagh’s Food Heartland and Galway Gastronomy, but it was Kilkenny that claimed the top spot at the final event in Lisnavagh House this week.
Each year Foodie Destinations’ judges look tirelessly for a winner that actively promotes itself through food festivals, gourmet trails and farmers markets, as well as great dining experiences for locals and visitors alike.
2018 judges noted that Kilkenny has developed an eclectic and diverse food and tourism offering, which includes top quality gastro pub food, a wide range of Irish and international food offerings and Michelin star restaurants.
Along with these attractions, Kilkenny has built on their new Dig a Little Deeper campaign, which aims to encourage visitors to stay longer in the destination and highlights the restaurants which are considered the hidden gems of Kilkenny.
This in combination with the #TasteKilkenny brand has been pivotal in the development of the county’s online presence. Judges were particularly impressed with the installation of an interactive touch screen search facility in the city centre.
Community events such as the Kilkenny Solidarity Dinners, Kilkenny Africa Day and a community meal to celebrate the end of Ramadan were also praised by judges.
With regard to future plans, the destination is considering promoting the local food and dining experience through videos to be shown in all local hotels for the visitor to enjoy and view. They are also aiming to develop a ‘Breakfast Award’ to create an awareness of the need for better breakfast dishes to be served in hotels and eateries in the region.
Along with the Foodie Destination award, this year’s competition also introduced a Foodie Town award, which was proudly given to the town of Kinsale in County Cork.
Liam Edwards, President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, commented on the competition saying: “The high standard of applications this year was incredible – it is clear that our small island already has so much to offer in terms of foodie experiences, from land to sea, which is growing every year. You are the people driving this and spreading the message.”
Patrick Carey, Business Development Manager at FBD Insurance also commented, saying: “FBD Insurance is proud to sponsor the Foodie Destinations award again in 2018. We are delighted to be associated with an event that supports the agri food industry, local businesses and community spirit.”
He added: “I would like to congratulate Kilkenny as the winner of Foodie Destinations 2018, Kinsale as Foodie Town of the Year and all the finalists on their outstanding efforts in this competition.”