Bridging the gap between gastronomy and farming

Press/Media: Expert Comment


The farm to fork movement, in which 
ingredients have been directly 
sourced from local farms, has 
witnessed rapid growth in many of 
our local restaurants over recent 
With more and more consumers demanding 
local seasonal ingredients, the connection 
between the chef and the farmer has 
become of vital importance to the success of 
developing a strong community food system.
For example, local farming family the 
Alexanders, of Ballyboley Dexters based 
near Greyabbey in County Down, recently 
had their pedigree Dexter beef featured on 
the Great British Menu by head chef and 
youngest contestant Andy Scollick of The 
Boat House Dining in Bangor.
Great British Menu judge and two-star 
Michelin chef Daniel Clifford believed the 
quality of this 100 per cent grass and pasture 
fed beef to be ‘outstanding’.
The connection between the producer 
and chef was evidenced throughout 
chef Scollick’s work on the Great British 
Menu displaying his passion for local 
produce. However, more needs to be 
done to strengthen the relationship 
between hospitality and our local farms, 
like Ballyboley, that adopt a regenerative 
approach to farming.
Regenerative farmers seek to improve the 
environment while farming the land, with 
efforts made to ensure the soil on which the 
food is produced has encountered minimal 
In bridging the gap between producer and 
hospitality, Ulster University is hosting its 
first Gastronomy Summit 2022 in Belfast, 
April 11-13, which aims to unite academics, 
chefs, producers, writers, activists and 
destination managers, who are committed 
to achieving positive change for the 
communities they represent.
Keynote speaker and tourism strategist 
Anna Pollock will be specifically addressing 
the relationship between hospitality and 
farms which adopt regenerative principles 
and will consider how this might help local 
communities flourish.
The summit also provides an opportunity 
to reinforce NI’s growing reputation as the 
source of the highest quality agricultural 
produce, which is helping to shape the image 
of the region internationally, as well as 
supporting local hospitality and retail.
Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines will 
be discussing how to harness the power of 
a local food system by connecting the farm 
and the fisherman to the restauranteur.
He believes that utilising the power of 
community has made County Devon in the 
southwest of England one of the best larders 
in the UK and Europe.
Supported by Food NI, Tourism NI and the 
Oxford Cultural Collective, the conference 
will host a range of world-renowned keynote 
speakers from across the globe. 
They include Joxe Mari Aizega, General 
Manager of the Basque Culinary Center in 
Spain; Gaston Acrio, chef, writer and founder 
of Fundacion Pachacutec from Peru; as well 
as culinary historian and broadcaster Dr 
Jessica Harris.
Over three days of keynotes, discussions, 
academic presentations and social events, 
delegates will consider the development of 
cities, regions and even countries as food 
and drink destinations in ways that deliver 
tangible benefits to local people.
They will share practical solutions to 
achieving lasting and inclusive community 
regeneration, including in locations that 
are facing considerable social, cultural and 
economic challenges.
The conference will also host a social 
programme that will include informal 
events, enabling delegates to explore shared 
interests and consider future working 
Dinners and lunches will showcase 
outstanding local produce prepared 
by renowned chefs. Delegates will also 
experience Belfast, a city increasingly 
defined by its food and drink stories.
Ulster University will be using the summit 
as a means of showcasing great produce and 
talent from across NI (again representing 
the alliance between farms, producers and 
hospitality), including through a dinner on 
April 13 at City Hall dedicated to food and 
drink from NI.
The Ulster University Business School 
would love to welcome those from the 
agricultural community across NI – tickets 
are now available from the website.
n For more information on the Gastronomy 
Summit 2022, including the call for best 
practice case studies, keynote speakers and 
registration, please visit https://www.ulster.

Period10 Feb 2022

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