We’re counting to the 2016 Ontario Food Tourism Summit happening on November 21st in Ottawa. This years summit is all about ‘Cultivating A Taste Of Place, Together.’
We’ve put together a line-up of culinary tourism major leaguers who will give us the low-down on their experiences and best practices. In the weeks leading up to the summit we’ll be profiling these taste makers showing you exactly why you should save the date.
So on that note, meet the first of our 2016 food tourism taste makers!
Chef/Owner of Cava, Founder of Food on the Edge, Failte Ireland Food Tourism Ambassador
JP McMahon is a chef, restaurateur and author. He is culinary director of the EatGalway Restaurant Group, which comprises Aniar, Cava Bodega, and Eat Gastropub. He also runs the Aniar Boutique Cookery School. Jp is committed to the educational and ethical aspects of food, to buying and supporting the best of local and free-range produce, and engaging directly with small farmers.
Founding chair and director of the Galway Food Festival, JP is an ambassador for Irish food and a network leader for the global Cook it Raw project. He is also the ambassador for Spanish food in Ireland in particular promoting the wines of Rías Baixas (Galicia) and Jerez.
JP is currently a commissioner for Euro-Toques Ireland and sits on its Food Council.
JP also lectures in Art History in UCC and is currently finishing his PhD in Art History, which focuses on twentieth century American art. In conjunction with this, his restaurants regularly hosts exhibitions, sponsors local arts festivals and events, and promotes the arts on a local level in Galway.
JP is currently organizing an international chef symposium entitled ‘Food on the Edge’. This event will take place in Galway in October 2015, 2016 and 2017. This event features the best international chefs across the globe. He also has a weekly column in the Irish Times on Saturday.
We sat down with Jp to talk a little about what is means to an ambassador, the value of food tourism and how Ireland is using it to it’s advantage.
What has the role of Food Tourism Ambassador for Failte Ireland meant to you?
It has brought attention to what we’re doing in Ireland and given me a chance to learn from other countries – seeing what they’re doing and how that can be applied to Ireland.
As a small business owner, how valuable was it for your national tourism agency to invest in food tourism development in Ireland?
Massively so! From a national perspective it lends the restaurant more gravitas. Internationally, it opens us up to different markets. As you meet people and grow, it helps making running the restaurant easier as you are looking at the global market not just local – which is highly competitive. Attracting the food tourist is so valuable.
Have you and other stakeholders seen a significant change in your operations as a result of the strategy being developed and implemented?
Certainly, we’re seeing a lot more food tourists to specific places for our food experience. People are travelling to Galway for food as part of their trip. Failte Ireland sees the long-term benefits of investing in developing and supporting food tourism. It raises the bar for the domestic market as well. Helping the Irish to become more confident in our own food culture.
You are presenting at our 2016 Food Tourism Summit – what nuggets of wisdom do you intend to share with our audience?
What you have is always a lot better than you think it is _ the grass always appears greener elsewhere – but travelling around and learning from others makes you realize that what you have at home is great. That our problems or rather, challenges we have are encountered elsewhere and that we can overcome them.