THERE’S ONLY one All-Ireland competition that’s holding my attention this week as Kilkenny take on Galway on Sunday in Croker but The Great Carvery Of The Year awards have taken place – the All Ireland for carveries, don’t you know – with Harvey’s Point in Donegal scooping Best Hotel Carvery award, while The Elm Tree in Cork held on to its Best Pub Carvery crown at the Great Carvery of the Year Grand Final. The winners receive, amongst other things, €2,500 in marketing support for the food side of their business.
Launched in 2010 by Unilever Food Solutions Ireland, Great Carvery of the Year is a nationwide search for Ireland’s best pub and hotel carvery. After a hugely successful first year, the competition was expanded to create two separate categories of winner in 2011: the Great Carvery Public House of the Year and Great Carvery Hotel of the Year. This year saw even more exciting changes as the competition was extended to include Northern Ireland and a public vote was introduced to determine a top three shortlist of Best Pub Carvery and Best Hotel Carvery from each province – Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster. Read on for the full list of winners.
Following a three-week-long public vote, Unilever Food Solutions’ Business Development Chef Mark McCarthy and his team of mystery shoppers had the tough job of whittling the 24 finalists down to just eight provincial winners and two overall winners. Out of the 11 counties represented at the inaugural award’s ceremony, The Elm Tree in Cork, Harvey’s Point and The Old Orchard Inn in Donegal, the Radisson Blu at Dublin Airport and The Grange in Dublin, the Carlton Hotel Galway, the Killarney Court Hotel in Kerry and The Merry Monk in Mayo came out on top in the provincial competition.
The judging panel was unanimous, however, in choosing their overall winners. Speaking at the Grand Final, Mark McCarthy said:
“Every year the competition gets tougher and tougher so to be shortlisted by the Irish public as one of the country’s Great Carvery venues of the year is something to be very proud of. There are some really outstanding carvery venues in Ireland – every time I go out on the road with the Great Carvery team I am blown away by the high standard and incredible calibre of pubs and hotels that are out there. It is a testament to all of the venues that made it this far.
“But for me,” Mark continued, “a great carvery is about much more than just good food; it’s about the whole package. That means creative menus, exceptional chefmanship, clever use of seasonal and local produce and top-drawer customer service. Harvey’s Point and The Elm Tree demonstrated all of these key ingredients and more. I was blown away by the passion, dedication and creativity that these two venues put into each dish on their menu – they are truly inspiring and very worthy winners.”
Irish rugby legend and competition ambassador Tommy Bowe was also on hand to present all of this year’s winners with their awards. Speaking at the final, he said:
“Looking at all the great pubs and hotels that have made it to the Grand Final it’s clear that Irish chefs – North and South – take their carveries very seriously. When I joined the Great Carvery team this year, I knew that carvery was popular – I’m a big fan myself! – but I didn’t realise just how much of an institution it is in Ireland.
“Now that I’m back in Ulster, I am delighted to see the competition being extended to Northern Ireland for the first time, and was thrilled to see one of the overall winners coming out of the province. Hopefully it’s a good omen for the new rugby season!”
As the overall winners, Harvey’s Point and The Elm Tree will receive marketing support to the value of €2,500 each and a double-page spread in one of Ireland’s top trade magazines. Both venues will also receive a specially commissioned wall plaque and commemorate chalkboard to remind customers that they are about the sit down and enjoy the best carvery in Ireland.
- Great Carvery Hotel of the Year: Harvey’s Point, Lough Eske, Co Donegal
- Great Carvery Public House of the Year: The Elm Tree, Glounthaune, Cork
Great Carvery Hotel of the Year
- Leinster: Radisson Blu, Dublin Airport
- Munster: Killarney Court Hotel, Co Kerry
- Connacht: Carlton Hotel Galway
- Ulster: Harvey’s Point, Co Donegal
Great Carvery Public House of the Year
- Leinster: The Grange, Co Dublin
- Munster: The Elm Tree, Cork
- Connacht: The Merry Monk, Co Mayo
- Ulster: The Old Orchard Inn, Co Donegal