A young Irish chef soon to make his first appearance on the BBC TV show Great British Menu, and another who is a regular judge on the show, share top billing at Taste of Cavan on Friday and Saturday (August 12th-13th).
More than 40,000 people are expected to attend the food festival in Cavan Equestrian Centre, where Eddie Attwell, head chef at St Kyran's Country House in Virginia, and Richard Corrigan, who owns Virginia Park Lodge in the Co Cavan town, as well as Corrigan's Mayfair, and Bentley's Oyster Bar in London, are among the chefs who will cook their signature dishes in front of festival audiences.
Attwell, who is from Craigavon, Co Armagh, was working at Ardtara Country House in Upperlands, Co Derry when he was selected, along with Chris McGowan (Wine & Brine, Co Armagh) and Mark Abbott (Midsummer House, Cambridge), to represent Northern Ireland in the popular BBC Two show judged by Matthew Fort, Prue Leith and Oliver Peyton.
Filming took place in London nine months ago, but Attwell can’t say a lot about how it went for him. “It was great to be there,” he said. “But nothing prepares you for doing it. It’s completely different from just going into the kitchen and cooking – nothing is missed.”
A 90th birthday banquet for Queen Elizabeth is the theme of this year’s show, in which chefs will compete in eight regional heats for a place in the kitchen when the Palace of Westminster hosts the first televised banquet in the House of Commons Members’ Dining Room this autumn.
BBC Media Centre was unable to provide exact screening dates for the series, which is due to start later this summer, but has revealed that in the regional rounds of this year’s series, past record scores are equalled then smashed, and one newcomer to the programme scores the highest mark ever given in the competition’s 10-year history.
“The chance to cook at the Palace of Westminster is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – it would be considered a crowning glory of any career. The competition this year is intense, the chefs sense how well they need to cook. As a result, the quality of the dishes produced is outstanding, world class,” said judge and restaurateur Oliver Peyton, who is from Co Mayo.
Great British Bake Off returns to BBC One on August 24th, almost three weeks later than usual, due to coverage of the Olympics. Last year, Great British Menu ran from August 3rd to October 9th.
Eddie Attwell's demonstration at Taste of Cavan is at 1pm on Friday, and Richard Corrigan will be in action at 3pm on Saturday. Cavan celebrity chefs Neven Maguire (MacNean House and Restaurant) and Gearóid Lynch (The Olde Post Inn), and Rachel Allen from the Ballymaloe Cookery School are also on the bill.
The event also features a Home Chef Cavan competition, where nine amateurs will cook for a panel of professional chefs, and a Junior MasterChef event. There will be 120 food stalls to browse, and admission is €5 on the door (children under 12 years free). See tasteofcavan.ie