May 17 2016

#FoodOscars in Ireland

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The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) hosted its Annual Awards event (#FoodOscars) in Dublin last night (Monday 16th May, 2016). This event is of huge importance to Restaurant owners, Chefs and their crews, and Front of house teams, from all over the island of Ireland.

This is their NIGHT to get dolled up and sit down to a nice meal together, cooked by their peers aka the winners from last years awards, and receive recognition for their hard graft. All  950 of them. Dear god – I’d hate to be the dishbitch for that party!


When working and living in the world of Social Media, there is no need for TV’s or Newspapers in one’s life. All we need is a decent internet connection to keep us entertained for hours – which is what the team from the RAI did last night. You can jump on to Twitter (even if you are not a registered user) and see all the Tweets from last nights #FoodOscars right here.


The reason I am telling you about this, is because Summer is here (although it is raining heavily this morning at 6am!), and even if you are not planning any kind of big holiday this year, you could spend a few hours looking at some new places to visit around the island.

Fill your bellies in the best Restaurants and Cafés along the way! The #FoodOscars awards matters most to folks working in the Service Industry in Ireland because of the transparent judging process put in place by Adrian Cummins (CEO of the RAI) and his mighty team.


The #FoodOscars Award process runs from early January until mid May each year. It is a lengthy and thorough process designed to reveal the best in the industry in a fair and transparent manner which includes:

Public nominations

Menu judging

Mystery guest inspections

An expert and unbiased judging panel

This is all factored in when deciding the winners. The judging panel consist of professionals who are incredibly passionate about the Food Industry in Ireland. Their backgrounds are hugely diverse and cover a range of everything from:

  • Newspaper Editors
  • Journalists
  • Bloggers
  • Marketing Executives
  • Wine Shop owners
  • Food & Wine Critics
  • Lecturers & Teachers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Grocery Shop owners

The list goes on, but I am sure you get the picture.


Judging panels are assembled by region (Connacht, Munster, Leinster, Ulster) and they meet once to vote for the Regional winners and then meet again to vote for national winners. This is all done on a volunteer basis and each judge donates their time graciously to aid in ensuring the process is as fair as the RAI intend it to be.

The judges spend their time (and their own money!) eating and sleeping in Ireland’s best (and sometimes worst!) hotels and restaurants  all year round; testing and tasting, sipping and savouring – always making notes of who is worthy of a win. And then they share the details of all the delicious places they have been to with other judges so that other regions are aware of the stiff competition, and also know where to go eat when they visit different parts of Ireland throughout the course of the year.


How to get involved:

Yes – I realise this is a ‘year in advance’ but based on the information I have shared with you above, as a restaurant owner or service industry worker, you now know that this summer, when the judges hit the road exploring the tastes and tipples the Island of Ireland has to offer, you need to bring your A game. Be the best that you can be all year round!

Oh yeah, and …

  • Restaurants
  • Cafes
  • Gastropubs
  • Hotels
  • Food Heroes

You do not need to be a member of the RAI to be nominated or to take part in the awards.

All you need to do is encourage your peeps to vote for you via Voting typically opens mid January and closes by the end of the month. This is important, because if you do not receive a public nomination then your name is not going into the hat for the Regional or National Awards. So mark your calendar NOW for late December 2016 to remind your customers to nominate you when then time comes!

A few of my personal favourites took home some massive WINS last night for Galway, Mayo and the Connacht region in general!

Kai Café – Best Customer Service (David Murphy and team with Jess Murphy and crew in the kitchen)

JP McMahon – National (and local) Food Hero (Aniar)

Enda McEvoy – Best Chef in Ireland at Loam, Galway

Rua Café – Best Café in Ireland (Aran McMahon)

Ashford Castle – Best Wine Experience in Ireland (Éanna Hasset)

To all the nominees and winners .. especially in the Connacht Region … damn, you have made us proud.

Thank you for your hard work; We know how hard it is to keep your head above water. You are continuing to shine an incredibly bright light on the West of Ireland and for this – we thank you!

That is it for now folks, time to do the school run and get to work!


 I was inspired to write this blog post late last night, as I sat responding to several text messages from local bar/restaurant/café/hotel owners and employees, all wondering why their place of business never gets recognised for their efforts at the #FoodOscars each year. I guided them all to the RAI website, because I think it is an excellent website, clearly explaining the nomination process and I hope, if you work in the service industry or know anyone working in the service industry, you will share this with them.

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About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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