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Chefs Ian Orri, Kelan McMichael, Chris McGowan and Niall McKenna

The Search is on to Find Northern Ireland's Best Dish

Tourism NI has tasked four of Northern Ireland’s top chefs to create three brand new locally-inspired dishes, one of which will be named as Northern Ireland’s New Signature Dish.

Northern Ireland’s New Signature Dish search is part of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 celebrations and the four creative minds taking part, referred to as the ‘cooking collective’, are Niall McKenna from James Street South in Belfast; Ian Orr from Browns Restaurant and Ardtara House in Derry~Londonderry; Kelan McMichael from Bull and Ram in Ballynahinch and Chris McGowan from Wine and Brine in Armagh.

They have the incredibly difficult task of coming up with three delicious finalist dishes, using local produce explained Susie Brown, Director of Corporate Development at Tourism NI.

“We are very excited about the prospect of a new signature dish for Northern Ireland. Our firm favourites like stew and champ are so familiar to us all but we want to create a lasting food legacy as part of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 to live on long after the year-long celebration is over and that is what the Signature Dish is all about.

“Once we have our three finalist dishes, we will ask the public to vote online for which dish they think should be named Northern Ireland’s New Signature Dish,” commented Susie.
"Very soon, everyone will be able to see a picture of the final three dishes, details of all the ingredients and information on how to vote for their favourite dish. Everyone who votes will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win some great prizes."

Susie continued: “We all have an opinion on food and have strong feelings when it comes to what we like and what we don’t like so our chefs are really brave in taking on this tasty challenge. Finding one dish that really shines above the other two may prove difficult but our ‘cooking collective’ are leaving the final decision to the public.”

The ‘cooking collective’ chefs, Niall, Chris, Ian and Kelan, said: “Our produce is the envy of the world with numerous awards and international recognition for hundreds of our food and drink producers. So choosing what ingredients to include is not an easy task for us but we’re up for the challenge.”

The Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 has been a resounding success, bringing together many key industry partners working in collaboration to maximize the opportunity of showcasing key producers, chefs and restaurateurs. The process of finding Northern Ireland’s New Signature Dish is another chance to celebrate our food and drink and the people who make it, grow it and cook it. 

"The winning dish, as voted for by the public, will be announced at a special unveiling event in December – further details to come later this month.  All of the ‘cooking collective’ chefs will be at the event and there will even be a cookery demo before the grand unveiling”, concluded Susie

Your Signature Dish ideas
At this point we have no idea what the three finalist dishes will be but we’d love to know what people across Northern Ireland think.  So get your creative juices flowing and send us in some suggestions using #SignatureDishNI and #EnjoyNI16.

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