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Food Heartland

Food Heartland

The borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon is a region characterised by a rich environment of good agricultural land; bursting with a rich heritage of food and drink production as well as outstanding places to eat and drink.

Home to an abundance of specialist artisan food and drink producers and household names including: Tayto, Moy Park, Irwin’s Bakery, Cottage Catering, Linwoods, Fane Valley, White’s and Wilson’s Country. The area is also proud holders of two of the three PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) products in Northern Ireland, namely: Lough Neagh Eels and Armagh Bramley Apples.

Given this concentration of so many high quality firms as well as a vibrant and growing base of specialist artisan food and drink producers, we are committed to help support the growth and development of our innovative and resilient agri-food businesses.


Food Heartland Action Plan

Reigniting our support and commitment to address the challenges impacting local agri-food businesses, we launched the Food Heartland Action Plan in March 2021. This ambitious action plan aims to deliver a range of practical and innovative initiatives this year to help drive investment, encourage growth and boost job creation in this key growth sector.

The Food Heartland Forum provides a unique platform for us as a council to work closely with agri-food businesses and various support bodies to drive the local agri-food sector forward.

From food and drink producers to businesses involved in the wider supply chain, the forum is focused on developing a strong voice for the local agri-food sector and facilitating opportunities to lobby on key sector issues.

The collaborative initiative meets regularly and is committed to ensuring engagement and representation from key policy stakeholders including: Food NI; Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association; Southern Regional College; Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute; College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise; and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Expression of interest – Membership criteria

Eligible businesses should be located in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area and be registered with Environmental Health.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Food Heartland Forum, please complete and submit the expression of interest form below.

The Food Heartland brand was originally created to promote passionate producers and quality creators in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. Being the home of 2 PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) products and many Taste Award winners there is much to be proud of.

The forum includes:-

Simon Dougan – The Yellow Door

Photograph of Simon DouganThe Yellow Door, now is its 22nd year, is owned by Simon Dougan (Chef/Proprietor). It first opened its doors as a restaurant in 1992 in the little hamlet of Gilford Co. Down. Since then Simon set up the new Yellow Door delicatessen in Portadown and there are now 3 more Deli’s in Belfast and Lisburn.

The Yellow Door caters for hundreds of very special events all over Ireland and overseas, including last year’s Waterloo Ball for 1150  VIP Dinners, The Yellow Door also Supporting The VIP G8 event in Fermanagh  and the showcase of Northern Ireland Food in Brussels European Parliament for 700 Diplomats and special guests. We wholesale our famous award winning Bread and Patisserie products to top quality restaurants, hotels and catering companies throughout the whole of Ireland

Simon and his team of Chefs, Bakers and Chocolatiers cook everything they serve from scratch which means, Smoking local Fish and meat, churning Ice Creams and Sorbets and baking the renowned Yellow Door Bread and Patisserie from the best local ingredients. The Company even has its own orchard, herb garden, vegetable and soft fruit plots as well as keeping bee hives to produce Yellow Door honey.


Joe Quail – Quails, Banbridge

Photograph of Joe Quail

Even in an area renowned for the quality of its meat, Quails of Banbridge have become something of a legend, with their famous deli/food hall in Newry Street and Quails at the Gallery at the FE McWilliam Gallery.

Joe Quail (junior) is the fourth generation of the family to work in the firm, which was founded by Matthew Alexander Quail in 1898.

Sourcing animals from trusted local farms, as well as their own farm at Tullyear, Quails have won 27 Great Taste awards, including ones for their 28-day aged Himalayan salt aged bone-in rib, salt aged flat iron steak and pork sausages.
“We can stand by the provenance and quality of every animal we use”, Joe says. “Apart from our own animals, we source only from local farmers we know well. Then it’s down to our team of skilled artisans – butchers, deli staff and cooks, many of whom have been with us for decades, who are passionate about their craft.”


Mark McGonigle – Head Chef Uluru Bar & Grill

Photograph of Mark McGonigle

Uluru Bar & Grill Head Chef is Mark McGonigle, a man who simply loves cooking and preparing great tasting food. Our team of chefs work hard in the kitchen and the overall food and drink experience is complimented by our fantastic front of house team. Our team makes sure the best food is put in front of our customers. We have the best team chefs who prepare locally sourced ingredients and serve up the tastiest plates.

Mark, who is from Armagh, has been cooking great food at Uluru since we first opened over 12 years ago. During this time, Mark has been whetting the appetites of people who travel far and wide to come and sample our food.

Mark is a great believer in a chef making a great kitchen even greater so that’s pretty much where he spends most of his time. All of the chefs collaborate to create culinary masterpieces. Come in and see what the #ulurucrew have to offer. Quite simply, delicious!

Gareth Reid – 4 Vicars

Gareth Reid

4Vicars is a small family owned and run restaurant set on the hill of ancient Armagh City, serving a small, daily changing menu in a relaxed environment. 4Vicars sources and cooks the best local fish, meat and poultry, vegetables and leaves, making this restaurant the most interesting and high quality dining experience currently available in county Armagh. Booking for dinner and Sunday lunch essential; booking for lunch recommended.


Mervyn Steenson – Groucho’s On The Square

Mervyn Steenson

Groucho’s On The Square is a family run bar, which is being extended to create a restaurant. We strive to serve local, wholesome food. Head Chef Mervyn Steenson has been with us for the past 10 years and lives by the rule of using fresh, local & seasonal produce wherever possible, all cooked from fresh in our own kitchen.



 John Whyte – Head Chef Armagh City Hotel

Photograph of John Whyte

John Whyte is head chef at the Armagh City Hotel and has been in the head chef position for 12 years. Before taking on this position he worked in Hastings Europa Hotel for 10 years. Over the years he has helped Armagh become a destination for food and leisure.

John’s menus incorporate locally sourced food, cooked simply to a high standard and showcase what is best of Armagh and Northern Ireland. He believes passionately in highlighting the best produce from County Armagh and Northern Ireland. He has also steered the hotel to achieve Taste Of Ulster recognition for over 8 years.

He is an active member of The Food Heartlands Forum and seeks to promote local artisan suppliers and their produce. He promotes great food ingredients not only to local customers but also to international guests. John believes this can only be beneficial for the future prosperity of County Armagh and its population.

Fiona Chapman
– The Red Bus Company

Photograph of Fiona Chapman

A vintage 1965 Routemaster London Bus has found a new life in Armagh. The latest venture from Fiona Chapman and her family, ‘Ruby’ has been lovingly

restored and re-fitted by her son Rory, offering a unique, moveable space for creative events of all kinds.

With a built in sound system, music from the 40s, 50s or 60s might be playing, all kinds of delicious artisan food enjoyed and afternoon teas – delicious finger sandwiches, little scones with cream and crab apple jelly and baby apple pies –served with antique china.
“At the Red Bus Company we believe that the only limit to what we can achieve is our imagination,” Fiona says. “We’ve designed Ruby so that the possible uses of the bus are endless. We can adopt the décor, the music and menus to suit any occasion or celebration. There is enough space for a pop up or gallery and we can bring seating for the outside too. What will never change is the quality of the local produce that we serve.”


The cluster was supported by Armagh City, Banbridge, & Craigavon Borough Council in addition to a Tourism NI mentoring programme. The group’s objective is to raise awareness of the quality produce, cooking and restaurants in the region.

By working together the chefs, in conjunction with their quality local suppliers are promoting the food experience available through their restaurants seasonal menus, providing cooking demonstrations and cookery schools at events and markets in the area.

The additional opportunities presented by the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 will generate even greater awareness.

Objectives and membership criteria

The “Marriage” of the best local produce from the Food Heartland and Northern Ireland prepared by the best local chefs to delight our customers and visitors is the aspiration of the group.

The objective is to raise awareness of the quality produce, cooking and restaurants in the region. To help businesses continuously raise the bar and become synonymous with an excellent unique food experience in the area. To increase visitor numbers and grow business for producers and food outlets alike

Expression of interest – Membership criteria

If you are interesting in becoming a member of the Hospitality Forum, please complete and submit the Expression of Interest Form below, for consideration by the Membership Committee. You will be contacted shortly in this regard.

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