New group to celebrate Slow Food movement

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A new local group dedicated to the promotion of the Slow Food movement is to be launched in the city next week, Wednesday, December 2, by well known Irish chef Paula McIntyre.

Slow Food NW is supported by the Slow Adventure in the Northern Territories - or SAINT Programme - which is a three year programme being run by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from The Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 under the EU programme.

The initiative aims to develop and promote slow adventure experiences in the region which includes slow food.

Slow Food is a global organisation with supporters in over 150 countries which first started in 1986 in Italy, led by Carlo Petrini as a reaction to a McDonald’s opening near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Essentially Slow Food is the antithesis of fast food. With the motto “Good, clean, fair” it links the pleasure of food with a commitment to the community and the environment.

As BBC Resident Chef and Director of Slow Food NI, Paula has long been championing Slow Food and is keen to engage as many individuals, producers and chefs as possible in the new organisation.

“It makes perfect sense to start a Slow Food convivium in such a vibrant area for food in the world,” she declared ahead of the launch. “I’m delighted to be associated with this new group and really look forward to us hosting this launch and then putting on other food events, highlighting issues, but most of all having fun with food.

“Food is such a common bond with people in this country and the North West convivium is the ideal platform for chefs, producers, and people who love food and cooking, to come together. It’s great that Shane Holland CEO of Slow Food UK will be in attendance and can get a chance to see first hand what the area has to offer.”

Following on from the city’s success in being named runner up the Foodie Town Ireland Awards, Council’s Tourism Development Officer, Mary Blake, said she was delighted to see the Slow Food NW Convivia being developed. “Slow Food is an area which many of our chefs and producers are exploring already and we are keen to learn from international best practice and to encourage our food tourism sector to embrace the Slow Food approach”

And it’s a fantastic opportunity for local businesses as Jennifer O’Donnell, who will be managing the Slow Food Element of SAINT, explained: ‘The establishment of Slow Food NW fits well with the aims and objectives of the SAINT programme and will help us develop an international kite mark for the region as a slow food destination and promote it through project partners across several European countries including Norway, Iceland, Sweden.”

The main aim of the organisation is to reinvigorate people’s interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. The Slow Food Ark of Taste is an international catalogue of endangered and forgotten foods from around the world. It is designed to preserve at risk foods that are produced sustainably, unique in taste and part of a distinct eco-region. There are over 800 listed foods including, at present, two from Northern Ireland in dulse and corned beef.

Slow Food Northwest will be officially launched at the Walled City Brewery in Derry at 11am on December 2nd. Shane Holland, CEO of Slow Food UK, Michele Shirlow of Food NI and Paula McIntyre, Director of Slow Food NI, will be there to outline plans for the future, both within the North West context and beyond. There will be a special introductory rate to be part of Slow Food membership which it is open to anyone with a passion for food, whether they are food producers, farmers, professional chefs, good home cooks or enthusiastic consumers – if you have an interest in good food then this is the organisation to be part of!

Please RSVP for this event by contacting Jennifer O’Donnell, Rural Tourism Project Officer Derry City & Strabane District Council – jenniferodonnell@derrystrabane.com