Tuesday 5 November 2013

Web Summit Dublin

Sorry, this seems to be becoming a pattern, months of nothing and then a flurry of posts come along all at once!

The third Web Summit and in my sheltered little life the first I'd heard about, was held in the RDS in Dublin recently. It was a mammoth event, sizzling with energy, which most of you will have heard about. The reason why it came to my attention this year was because just a couple of weeks before, Paddy Cosgrave, the curly-haired young dynamo behind the whole event, contacted Margaret Jeffares, founder of Good Food Ireland, to ask whether GFI would take on the feeding of the 10,000 plus delegates over the two days. It was a terrifying but tantilising challenge: what an opportunity to showcase Irish food to all those exciting young techies from Silicon Valley and over thirty countries around the world.

Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave with Margaret Jeffares of Good Food Ireland. Image: http://blog.websummit.net/2013/10/24/introducing-irelands-first-food-summit/
There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, Margaret persuaded Rory O'Connell of Ballymaloe Cookery School, to take on the role of event manager, and then put out a call to the Good Food Ireland membership made up of farmers, fishermen, artisan producers, bakers, fish-smokers, cheese-makers, chefs... Over 60 responded and then the fun began. It was an incredibly tight deadline, just ten days to pull it off.

A huge marquee was erected in beautiful Herbert Park, close to the RDS. On the day the sun shone brilliantly as the delegates merrily made their way along by the lake past the funky art installations made from defunct television and computer screens, keyboards, and "mouses". They were welcomed by huge displays of fresh seasonal produce as they entered the marquee to get a taste of the best Irish artisan food.

Art installations made from defunct computer "mouses" and a computer caterpillar!

On the first day we had been told to expect 5,000 people, but over 7,000 people poured into the tent as the word spread, oops! By 2.30pm the food was running out and many producers had used up their entire supply for two days. So what to do?

Me and my team!
Rory did some frantic calculations on the back on an envelope, mustered his troops, many of whom headed home and cooked and baked throughout the night.  Nora Egan drove back to Inch House in Co Tipperary, where she and her girl, made and cooked 40 new black puddings until 4 am. And then at the crack of dawn her son drove to Dublin with the freshly made puddings. That's just one of the many remarkable stories from behind the scenes of the Good Food Ireland members, who have such a passion to showcase the best of Irish food at every opportunity.

Some of the gorgeous sweet treats laid out on horse chestnut leaves

Congratulations to Margaret Jeffares, Rory O'Connell and all who were involved in doing Ireland proud in the inaugral Food Summit. And not least to Paddy Cosgrave and his ace team who had the vision to make the Food Summit an integral part of the Web Summit.