Chefs going ‘cocoa’ over Killyleagh Chocolate and Fine Food Fest

As thousands of chocoholics and foodies gear up for the highly-anticipated return of the biennial Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, outstanding chefs from Northern Ireland and further afield are joining up with festival organisers to ensure that the three-day festival offers a foodie experience not to be missed. With the addition of Downpatrick’s Finnebrogue Artisan this year as the festival’s overall sponsor, Finnebrogue consultant development chef Chris Burt will lead the charge with an innovative line-up of chocolate and locally-focused food activities to span the entire weekend.

Kicking off with the Hans Sloane Chocolate Ball on Friday 23rd September, Chef Burt will join up with legendary Northern Ireland chef Simon Dougan of Yellow Door to present a meal that will have guests buzzing for years to come. Utilising the finest of hyper-local produce including Finnebrogue venison and sausages, locally farmed vegetables, eggs and butter, and even reindeer moss foraged personally by Chef Burt from the Finnebrogue Estate, this dinner will highlight the wide range of world-class ingredients available from across Northern Ireland.

“As Finnebrogue’s consultant development chef, I have the pleasure of working with locally-produced Northern Ireland ingredients every day, and am delighted to be able to develop and serve an innovative, forward-thinking menu for guests at this year’s Hans Sloane Chocolate Ball utilising these outstanding ingredients,” said Chef Burt. “I’m delighted to be teaming up with Simon Dougan to create a menu that will encourage guests to think outside the box and approach these local ingredients in a new way.”

As a dramatic end to the evening, Chefs Burt and Dougan are brainstorming a show-stopping dessert which will act as homage to Sir Hans Sloane – the Killyleagh-born physician, naturalist and collector credited with bringing the recipe for drinking chocolate back to Europe –and turn heads as the extraordinary chocolate dessert is unveiled to guests.

The festival will continue on Saturday and Sunday, 24th and 25th September. Guests at Killyleagh Castle can enjoy live cooking demos led by Chef Burt alongside leading local chefs including Chefs Danny Millar, Balloo Inns; Roy Abraham, The Smuggler’s Table; and Fernando Correa, Quails at the Gallery, among others hosted by Food NI. Incorporating locally-grown and sourced produce paired with chocolate elements and even a chocolate stout from local Mourne Mountains Brewery, these chefs will bring home the theme of local cooking with a touch of chocolate in honour of Sir Hans.

“We’re really looking forward to this year’s live cooking demos, which have been supported by Food NI as part of Tourism Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink,” said Meave Davison of the festival’s organising committee. “Finnebrogue Artisan Chef Chris Burt will show off his knowledge of foraging local produce and his unique approach to creating dishes with a wow-factor, while some of the area’s most popular chefs, hosted by Food NI, will support the ‘local’ element of the festival by incorporating chocolate into popular savoury and sweet which will be shared with guests.”

“In addition to the live kitchen demos on Saturday and Sunday, 24th and 25th September, guests will also enjoy tasting freshly-made dishes and treats from over 30 local artisan producers including Great Taste Award winners S.D. Bells, Deli Muru, Abernethy, La Coquine, Glastry Farm Ice Cream, Finnebrogue, Krazi Baker and Mash Direct, among many others,” added Meave.

Aine Kearney, Director of Business Support and Events Tourism NI commented, “Tourism Northern Ireland is a proud sponsor of the Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, in line with the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink initiative, the festival is showcasing our unique chocolate offering.
“The festival schedule has something for everyone from the Chocolate Ball to the family fun days and we hope this will encourage thousands of foodies from Northern Ireland and beyond to enjoy some of our great indigenous foods.”
Founded in 2010 to celebrate Killyleagh’s most famous son, Sir Hans Sloane, who was born in the village in 1660 and later credited for bringing the recipe for drinking chocolate to Europe from Jamaica, the biennial festival has grown from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of the leading events of its type in the UK and Ireland and a highlight of the summer calendar for food lovers across the country.

The Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival kindly acknowledges the support of Tourism Northern Ireland, Newry Mourne & Down District Council, and Food NI in the staging of this year’s event as well as the support of sponsors Bryan Somers Travel, Jeep, Killyleagh Development Association, Mash Direct, Roskyle, and S.D. Bell’s.

Ticket prices vary, based on events running throughout the Festival. For further information on all events taking place and to book tickets visit or follow the Killyleagh Chocolate Festival on Twitter @KillyleaghChoc or