Donegal LEO Launch "The Food Coast" website
Launch of County Donegal's new Food Coast Experiences website.
The Food Coast Experiences is an exciting initiative to create a series of food tourism experiences in County Donegal that celebrates Donegal food, its food producers and its food champions. The Food Coast Experiences are immersive and give you a taste and flavour of the modern food and drink culture in Donegal.
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Councillor Gerry McMonagle welcomed guests to the event, saying, “Today’s event is a great opportunity for Donegal’s Food Businesses to learn from each other and is a great way for food businesses to realise the potential of Donegal food. Today will help to give you the tools to communicate your food-story to the widest possible audience. Don’t just be happy with what you are but strive for what you can become.”
EveAnne McCarron introduced Sinead Hennessy, Food & Tourism Manager for Fáilte Ireland.
"Tourists now seek out new food experiences, don’t just look to eat the same things they eat at home" she told those in attendance. "Food is becoming an important consideration for all visitors. The majority of visitors are also interested where their food comes from. This has led to a search for authenticity and visitors to Ireland are now looking to learn about Irish Culture through our food experiences".
Sinead continued, "When visitors lave Ireland their lasting memories are around the social interactions of eating and Product, Service and Stories all interlink to make up a great food experience for visitors. drinking. Food is now at the core of exceptional visitor experiences".
Four key things for all food businesses to remember is to keep things authentic and real, have high quality produce, have food on offer that is close to source and to create iconic food and drink experiences for visitors.
Product, Service and Stories all interlink to make up a great food experience for visitors.
- First characteristic of a really good food story is Passion.
- The next characteristic of a good food story : Be Yourself.
- The next characteristic: Paint a picture. Take your story and give it room to breathe. Paint a scenario that a visitor can picture themselves in. Delivering story through experiential scenario.
- The next characteristic : Find your point of difference. That is something that is becoming more difficult, but that ones food businesses should strive for.
- Great stories get more attention and more sales. It is really important to deliver what your story sets out. Do not tell tall tales.
- Use video and imagery and your story will be picked up more by modern media and social media.
Chef Brian McDermott says his recent book launch was a way to shout about this county.
"Without Donegal producers I don't have a story to tell and Donegal’s reputation as a food county is growing", said Brian. "The word artisan is not enough any more. You need to still look for something that little bit different. Do your homework on product and innovation, find out where it is going to fit".
Brian offered more advice for food producers and service providers on how to improve their food experience offering:
- Don’t overthink, but do deliver more than people expect.
- Don’t just copy others. Being unique and different is what visitors want to see.
- We have an obligation to pass on knowledge about our food and our county.
- There are only two types of customer - new and repeat! If you deliver on your food story you will built customers.
He added, "Donegal food businesses must share our stories on one landing space and with the launch today of the Food Coast website, we now have that landing space."
James Doherty from the Sliabh Liag Distillery told his story.
"There was a time when there was more illicit distilling in Donegal than in any other part of the country! The two heartlands of poitin making, at the time, were Inishowen and Sliabh Liag", said James. "It is important to know why you want to do what you do, because it is hard and for us it was about reclaiming a distilling legacy of Donegal. Do the things you are good at and do them well".
He continued, "We wanted to be sure we were driven by authenticity. We make things, do them to the best of our ability and do them with integrity. Have a story that works for a paddler, a story that works for a swimmer - with a bit more depth to it and one as well that works for the geek who wants to know all the nuts and bolts of what you do. We feel incredibly supported by the food community in Donegal and we try to reciprocate that."