Food Champion: Olivia Duff of the Headfort Arms, Kells, Co. Meath

In Hot Press’ special Best of Ireland 2018 magazine, we celebrated the Irish Food Revolution – and spoke to some of Ireland's leading Food Champions about the part they have played in making Ireland one of the hottest food destinations in the world.

I grew up in a family hotel business and returned to that about ten years ago. I work with my brother running the Headfort Arms, which has been in the family almost 50 years. We got four-star status a couple of weeks ago, which is great. I’m also a food producer – I have a small farm down the road with my husband. We went into turkey farming for Christmas one year, during the recession, and now we do about 1,000 birds, mostly for Christmas.
My passion is the Boyne Valley Food Series. The inspiration came from trips to Canada, Brooklyn, Sweden and other places as a Fáilte Ireland Brand Ambassador. I saw how regions were promoting their produce. I had this vision for the Boyne Valley, a place known for its heritage: I could see how this amazing landscape of ours was giving us an incredible bounty of produce and producers. All we really needed to do was to work together. 

Getting businesses to collaborate is making a huge difference. Five years on, we’ve become a real foodie destination in Ireland. We now have a food producers’ network, which incorporates a drink strand that includes Slane Distillery and Coole Swan, among others. We also recently had a food tour come out to the region from Dublin.
My idea of the perfect Irish food comes down to simplicity, and as close to the source as possible. On a personal level, it’s sitting in my kitchen, having my own produce that I’ve reared. Lamb, ethically raised without stress, fed the way nature intended, cooked in season. I had some of that and some baked bread last night and said to my husband, “Is there anything better than this?” That is where Irish food is heading and it’s wonderful.

For more Food Champions, and all of the gen on Ireland's Food Revolution, get the Best of Ireland 2018 or check out Features on hotpress.com.

 

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