Top chef showcases local food to Wild Atlantic Way travellers

Interview 28/6/18 SM Farm

Brian McDermott, among the most respected chefs in Ireland, has made a huge contribution to the development of a vibrant food culture, especially in Derry and other parts of the North West and his native Donegal.

He has long been an enthusiastic supporter of food festivals in the Derry area and contributed to the successful growth of artisan enterprises across the region through his consultancy role with Foodovation, the food and drink innovation centre at the Northern West Regional College in Derry.

He’s also raised the profile of artisan producers here, particularly through his popular BBC Radio Foyle and RTE broadcasts.

Among the smaller businesses benefitting from his culinary expertise are Corndale Charcuterie in Limavady, Manor House Chocolates in Coleraine and Derry companies Walled City Brewery and Tirkeeran Black Puddings.

He’s now started out on a new journey as the chef/owner of the Foyle Hotel in Moville, an investment of over £1 million that he sees as a bridge between Donegal and Derry, particularly for the thousands of tourists travelling the imaginative Wild Atlantic Way along Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coastline. The investment will create 30 new jobs for Moville.

Resident in the town, Brian has restored the building, which had been closed for almost two decades, to create a contemporary boutique hotel with 17 high quality rooms, a well-appointed function room and superb wine bar and restaurant that will give him an opportunity to showcase the quality of local produce, especially the region’s excellent seafood.

Brian, who recently launched his second cookery book, Brian McDermott’s Donegal Table, to widespread acclaim, said it was a dream come true to be able to create a signature dining experience in his home town. Recipes from Donegal Table also featured in recent editions of Farm Week.

The new premises, which is now known known as the Foyle Hotel by Brian McDermott, opened its doors last week.

“It’s an immensely exciting venture, quite a challenge, which gives me an opportunity of showcase Irish hospitality and the exceptional food and drink available here,” Brian says.

“I live in Moville and our family is based here. Being able to fulfil my ambition of creating a signature dining and hospitality experience in my home town and the wider north of Ireland really is a dream come true,” says Brian.

“I’ve spent my career championing local produce, and I want to use the finest local ingredients to create a quality experience for visitors, whether they’re popping in for a coffee or relaxing over an evening meal. My cookery books and culinary demonstrations all focus on local, mostly artisan, food and drink.

“In the restaurant we’ll be keeping it trendy, serving food throughout the evening with specially selected wines and local beers, all served in a relaxed environment with a focus on excellent customer service.

“I also want to develop the hotel as an ideal location for cookery weekends which I will host,” he adds.

As a result, the new Foyle Hotel by Brian McDermott is likely to become a popular venue for cookery enthusiasts from throughout the island. There could scarcely be a more picturesque and relaxing location.

Brian and wife Brenda used to dine regularly at the old Foyle Hotel. Brenda, in fact, used to work there as restaurant manager.

Foyle Hotel by Brian McDermott will be a “new, signature location where visitors can expect something different,” he says.

Seafood will feature strongly on the menus, and with the harbour only kilometres away fresh fish will be on diners’ plates within hours of landing at Greencastle.

“We are all looking forward to the new venture because it gives us another home to do what we love – sourcing the best ingredients, cooking them simply, and allowing neighbours and visitors alike to relax and enjoy it,” he says.

The family aims to see the hotel become an integral part of the community, and by using local producers to create a knock-on effect in terms of encouraging other jobs and investment in the area.

“We also hope it’ll be a boost to tourism and encourage more visitors to this part of Inishowen,” he adds. “We’re right on the Wild Atlantic Way that’s becoming a major tourism attraction.

“We’ll be encouraging tourists to visit Derry and the North West in particular. And we hope travellers from Northern Ireland will see the hotel as a platform for visiting Donegal and the rest of the Wild Atlantic Way.”

The Wild Atlantic Way, 1,600 miles in length, is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world. It winds its way all along the Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north, down to the picturesque town of Kinsale in Cork, in the south.

“The Wild Atlantic Way is a tremendous development that embraces both tourism and food, especially smaller producers. It’s helping to highlight the splendid food and drink available here,” he adds.

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