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Food Heartland

Food Heartland


Food Heartland Forum Workshop


TUESDAY 16th MAY 2017
10.00am – 12noon
Craigavon Civic Centre
Lakeview 2 Suite

Click here for more details

The borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon is officially acknowledged as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland, due to the significance of food and drink production and high quality places to eat and drink. Council’s number one priority is to grow the local economy and food and drink are instrumental to think success.  The borough is also uniquely home to 2 of the 3 world renowned, PGI (protected geographical indication) products in Northern Ireland, namely Lough Neagh Eels and Armagh Bramley Apples.

The Food Heartland is a unique collaboration which has at its heart people who love good food and who are passionate about what they do and where they are from. It is a great success story, which continues to evolve and in early 2017 the Food Heartland received 2 top accolades at the NI Year of Food & Drink Awards: Best Food Story and Roots to Market.  The Food Heartland was also highly commended for the ‘Destination Delicious’ award, putting the borough firmly on the map as a top foodie destination. Hotly contested, these awards recognised the genuine partnership working and collaboration between council, local producers, chefs, and stakeholders who have worked together to brand the borough and champion local food and drink.

The winners were selected by an esteemed panel of judges – Professor Una McMahon Beattie of Ulster University, food critics Charles Campion and Georgina Campbell, and Belfast Telegraph food writer Joris Minne.

Food Heartland News

Celebration lunch for award-winning Food Heartland producers

This year’s award-winning food and drink producers from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough, recently gathered at Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre, as Lord...

The next Food Heartland Awards will be launched in Spring 2018.  More information to follow.

Food Heartland Awards 2016

The first Food Heartland Awards in association with NFU Mutual, led by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council took place in May 2016. Over 60 businesses from across the borough competed across the 12 award categories which showcased local produce, the people behind the thriving agri-food sector and shone a light on the sector’s potential for growth and positive impact on the local economy.

Best New Start Business Award

Sponsored by JPH Law

Burren Balsamics Ltd

Best Growth Business Award

Sponsored by Armagh Business Centre, Banbridge District Enterprise, CIDO

Armagh Cider Company

Best Export Business Award
Sponsored by InterTradeIreland

Moy Park

Best Marketing Initiative Award
Sponsored by U105

Irwin’s Bakery (Rankin)

Innovation Award
Sponsored by Avondale Foods

Kestrel Foods Ltd

Sustainability Award
Sponsored by Farming Life, Lurgan Mail, Portadown Times

Harnett’s Oils

Best Dish Using Local Ingredients
Sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

Newforge House

Best Use of a PGI Product in a Dish
Sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland

The Moody Boar

Best Use of a PGI Product
Sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland

Long Meadow Cider Ltd

Rising Star Award
Sponsored by Southern Regional College

Kevin McCann (P. McCann & Sons)

Best Licensed Eating Establishment
Sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

The Moody Boar

Best Non-Licensed Eating Establishment
Sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

Yellow Door (Portadown) Ltd

Best Independent Retail Food Business
Sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

High Street Harvest

Industry Ambassador
Sponsored by NFU Mutual

Brian Irwin (Irwin’s Bakery)

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is currently supporting 21 local producers to export to new markets in ROI and GB via the Pastures New Programme.

Please watch this space to hear about future agri-food support available from council to support your business.

Food Heartland Forum Workshop


TUESDAY 16th MAY 2017
10.00am – 12noon
Craigavon Civic Centre
Lakeview 2 Suite

There will be time afterwards for one-to-one advice for any attendees with a strong interest in the US market.

To register for this free workshop please RSVP to

by Friday 12th May 2017.

Guest Speaker Orion Kelly, Food & Drink Specialist at OCO Global, based in New York (ex Unilever) will deliver invaluable advice for producers that have an interest in the USA.  Orion will be joined by Mintel who will be presenting on US food trends for 2017.

Starting his career as a chef in San Francisco, California, working at some of the world’s best restaurants, such as The French Laundry, Orion laid a bedrock for a career in food. After graduating from Emerson College in Boston with a degree in Marketing he set out to Montreal to open the first W Hotel in Canada. Then joining Paris based dairy group Senoble in the UK Orion worked as Director of Innovation, including export to France and Spain retailers Carrefour and IGA. Taking on a global role with Unilever for the Knorr brand Orion lead marketing and development for Knorr. Brought in as Marketing Director at Hovis, UK Orion was a key part of the turnaround for bread category. Orion lectured at Oxford University’s Said Business school. Also, a speaker at Brunel University’s Open Innovation series.

Currently, Orion lives in New York City with his wife and daughter working as Food Specialist and Adviser for small and mid-cap businesses.

The Food Heartland Forum is the jewel in the crown of the Food Heartland Initiative.  The borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon is vibrant and outward looking with a strong international focus, a wealth of exporting knowledge and is open for business on a global basis.

The Food Heartland Forum is a unique collaboration between council, local producers, chefs, and stakeholders including Food NI and Southern Regional College who work together to brand the borough and champion local food and drink.

The Food Heartland Forum meets once a quarter and provides a unique platform for local producers, businesses, and suppliers to work within their communities and with council to champion the fantastic spectrum of food quality in the area. This unique and imaginative initiative has allowed us to develop genuine partnerships which continues to evolve.

The Forum meets once a quarter and membership is FREE – it’s a great opportunity to network & keep up to speed with what’s happening in the borough and beyond – council encourages everyone to get involved.  The only criteria for an agri-food business to join the Forum is that they must be based in the borough.

Food Heartland get involved bannerThe 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.


Sean Farnan – The Moody Boar

Photograph Sean Farnan

The Moody Boar restaurant is based in the heart of Armagh City at the Palace Demesne.  Sean & The Moody Boar focus on the basics – service, flavour, local, quality & passion.

Foraging around The Palace Park and using The Moody Boar’s own kitchen garden at the restaurant, the food is unique to Armagh. Sean and The Moody Boar fully believe in and pursue a sow, grow and harvest concept from service to plate with pride, and strive to never lose sight of their moto: Love Food.


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.

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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