Thousands vote Tayto and Del Toro as winners!

Tandragee crisp company Tayto and Lisburn restaurant Del Toro topped the leader board in this year’s Food NI sponsored categories of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards 2013 (NIFDA) – the most important awards in Northern Ireland’s food industry calendar.

The awards, which honour the work of our home grown producers and celebrate the contribution which the agri-food industry plays in our economy, took place at Belfast’s Ramada Plaza Hotel where food and drink producers and restaurateurs gathered to celebrate the growth in the sector.

Michele Shirlow, chief executive of Food NI, Northern Ireland’s promotional body for the food and drink industry, praised the high standard of entries in this year’s categories for NIFDA 2013 and congratulated the winners in both of their sponsored categories.

She said: “There was a great buzz about the awards this year. We all clearly have one thing in common and that’s our love for food and drink and enjoying meals out. We received thousands of votes which demonstrates the strength of feeling in Northern Ireland for our producers and restaurants.

“What is special about these awards is that they are driven by the public who get an opportunity to have their say. We would like to thank everyone for taking the time to be part of our categories.

“My congratulations go out to everyone who participated and especially to Tayto and  Del Toro.”

Food NI sponsored The People’s Choice and Taste of Ulster Restaurant Award categories which attracted 23 producers to nominate one of their own products while 22 restaurants battled it out for the Taste of Ulster Restaurant Award.

Tayto put forward theirTayto Cheese and Onion Crisps which scored most popular with voters securing the product the People’s Choice Award while Del Toro of Lisburn, a busy restaurant in Lisburn, secured the title of Taste of Ulster Restaurant Award.

Elly Hunter, who collected the award at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast, for Tandragee based Tayto, said: “We are delighted that Tayto has been crowned ‘People’s Choice’ at the NIFDA 2013.  This is a tremendous achievement and means a lot to us as it was voted for by the general public.  I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for Tayto Cheese and Onion.  We know our crisps are much-loved and it means a lot of have our fans stand up and be counted.”

Coming in close second in the People’s Choice Award was Punjana Tea and in third place was Armagh Cider Company for their Madden’s Mellow.

Anton and Bronagh Campbell were also at the glittering ceremony to collect the award for Del Toro in Lisburn.

Bronagh said: “The team at Del Toro are delighted to pick up this award again which follows our success in 2011. We use locally produced food in our restaurant which is what people want and what we support. This award is testament to the amount of hard work which we put in to the restaurant and we thank everyone who voted for us.”

Taking second place in this category was Katch 27 of Kircubbin and Denvirs Hotel in Downpatrick taking third place.

In Northern Ireland, over 100,000 private sector jobs depend on the success and continued growth of the agri-food sector which has an estimated turnover of £4billion.

Michele Shirlow added: “2013 will be another exciting year for food and drink producers in Northern Ireland, especially with the opportunities that the World Police and Fire Games will bring, and we look forward to building on the success of the sector.”

Food NI were delighted to be Highly Commended for the Best Local Food and/Or Drink Promotion Event/Initiative for the 2012 Balmoral Show Food Pavilion 2012!

Any food and drink producers wishing to become a Food NI member can contact 02890 249449 for more details.

Photo Caption 1: Michele Shirlow (Food NI) with Elly Hunter (Tayto)

Photo Caption 2: Michele Shirlow (Food NI) with Anton and Bronagh Campbell (Del Toro)