Donegal farmer Thomas Hughes knows a thing or two about the agri-food business
Donegal farmer Thomas Hughes knows a thing or two about the agri-food business and he’ll be cooking up a storm at a major Slow Food Festival in Derry this weekend.
Owner of Lisnamulligan Farm in Castlefin, Thomas is in the unique position of not only producing quality local meat products, he’s also a dab hand on the culinary side of the business.
The Aberdeen Angus beef and free range pork farmer will be among top food producers from across the north west and wider region showcasing their premium products at Northern Ireland’s first Slow Food Fair centred in Guildhall Square on Saturday, October 8th and Sunday, October 9th from 12 noon until 6pm.
Admission to the festival is free.
The Festival is taking place as part of October’s Harvest theme celebrations during Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016, supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) NI Regional Food Programme.
Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement founded in Italy in 1989 which promotes true enjoyment of good, clean and fair food and production systems, with a commitment to community and the environment.
Thomas Hughes has lived on the family farm inherited by his late father Thomas snr. in the townland of Lisnamulligan, since 1972.
After his dad passed away in February last year, Thomas finished up his job as Sales and Marketing Manager at Donegal Rapeseed Oil where he had worked since 1988, to focus on his food production business which specialises in Aberdeen Angus burgers and, pork and apple burgers from free range pigs.
With his brother William looking after the cattle on the 100 acre farm holding, Thomas has been concentrating his efforts on developing the relatively new business and is pleased with the positive feedback from customers, often returning to savour Lisnamulligan’s flavoursome products which are available in a number of local restaurants and shops.
Having enjoyed buoyant sales at the LegenDerry Food Festival and Clipper Race Kitchens in Derry earlier this year, Thomas is looking forward to returning for the Slow Food Festival.
Lisnamulligan’s gourmet Aberdeen Angus burger was designed in consultation with Chef Brian McDermott who will also be starring at the Festival, and is served in a brioche bap with carmelised onions, Emmental cheese, Ballymaloe relish and rocket salad.
The Finn Valley farm will also be serving up a hearty breakfast bap with bacon and sausages from their free range pork and, local eggs.
Thomas revealed that he had picked up a few cooking tips from watching chefs Brian McDermott and Neven Maguire in action over the years.
Looking forward to meeting festival-goers in Derry this weekend, the Castlefin agri-food expert who has been cooking since the age of eight, said: “I can guarantee my products are free from antibiotics and outside interference.
“The pigs are all fed the old traditional way with either boiled and raw potatoes and in keeping with the Slow Food ethos, they are given time to mature rather than force fed, before they are slaughtered.”
The family-friendly Slow Food Festival will include a Harvest Market, cookery demos and talks with chefs and craft brewers in the marquee as well as a Street Food Zone which will feature another Co Donegal producer, Scarpello & Co from Newtowncunningham, whose speciality is long-fermented sourdough bread and wood-fired pizza.
A Family Fun Zone including petting farm and planting workshops hosted by ‘Edible Gardener’, Jilly Dougan will also keep the children entertained during the two-day event.
Fringe events include free walking and cycling food tours, a Harvest and Foraging Day at Butterlope Farm in Plumbridge, and talk at St Columba’s Heritage Centre focusing on wild and overlooked native foods by Inishowen eco-tourism company, Wild Strands.
Popular local celebrity chefs Paula McIntyre, Director of Slow Food NI who recently returned from a major annual international Slow Food event in Italy, and Brian McDermott who is also a Slow Food ambassador, will be hosting cookery demos in the marquee.
For further information on the Slow Food Festival visit www.derrystrabane.com/food