This free virtual food festival on Sunday has an amazing line-up

    Virtual Samhain food festival 2020 Easy Food

    The historic precursor to modern day Hallowe’en, Samhain marked not only the time of harvest but also a time of transition. In 2020, Samhain Festival is transitioning itself digitally, streaming live and free via Facebook Live this Sunday 8th November from 12-5pm, following this year’s theme of ‘Recovery Through Food’.

    Continuing key conversations around food and literature whilst stoking important dialogue on food’s present, past and future, the annual festival — which had a stellar debut in 2019 — will get the sophomore outing it deserves, at a time when we all find ourselves staying home. Rather than taking place in Kells, Co. Meath, 2020 will see the festival come alive in the very homes of its audience.

    Curated and co-directed by Olivia Duff (Headfort Arms, Maperath Farm, Irish Food Champions) and Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon (GastroGays, Chew The Fat, Boyne Valley Flavours ambassadors), the digital production will draw on the experience of speakers such as Darina Allen, JP McMahon, Jordan Bailey, John and Sally McKenna, Domini Kemp, Padraic Óg Gallagher and more. Run under the banner of the annual Hinterland Festival of Literature & Arts, in conjunction with Boyne Valley Flavours (with support from Discover Boyne Valley Tourism) Samhain was also prestigiously lauded by the McKennas as the best new Irish festival last year.

    Free to all who wish to be part of the audience for Samhain 2020, key talks include:

    • Darina Allen (Ballymaloe Cookery School), Regina Sexton (University College Cork) and Caroline Hennessy (Irish Food Writers Guild) will delve into the past and present of food, pondering “Plagues, Pandemics and Potato Blights” — we’ve endured landscape-shifting hardship before as a people, and come through wiser (though leaner) and more informed of how to approach a future of food. What can we learn from our past in paddling through this unprecedented pandemic?
    • 2020 could arguably go down in the annals as ‘The Great Pivot’, where industry has had to fight, diversify and unexpectedly evolve in order to survive. Chef-restaurateurs Jordan Bailey (Aimsir) Padraic Óg Gallagher (The Boxty House) and Séaneen Sullivan (L. Mulligan Grocer) will be led by writers and Chew The Fat podcast hosts Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon in a conversation about grit, survival and enterprising to stay in business.
    • John and Sally McKenna, in conversation with author and columnist Aoife Carrigy, will present ‘Milk’, their newest book detailing and celebrating Ireland’s pedigree as the finest dairy producer on earth, through a unique collection of recipe, history and culture.
    • Food as medicine: Chef-restaurateur Domini Kemp will discuss the pivotal role food plays in the wider health care industry with Paula Mee (Consultant Dietician) and Joyce Timmins (Marymount Care Centre, former Exec. Chef Rotunda Hospital).
    • Rory O’Connell (Ballymaloe Cookery School) will host a smoked black pudding cooking demonstration in celebration of the second annual National Black Pudding Day using The Smokin’ Butcher Hugh Maguire’s famous smoked black pudding.
    Virtual Samhain food festival 2020 Easy Food
    Darina Allen launches the inaugural National Black Pudding day with Hugh Maguire (The Smokin’ Butcher) & Olivia Duff (Headfort Arms Hotel & Boyne Valley Flavours) at Samhain Festival. Picture: Patrick Browne
    • Finally, Olivia Duff will lead a panel discussion on the day’s theme and tagline ‘Recovery Through Food’ with an esteemed panel including JP McMahon (ANIAR, Food on the Edge), Jacinta Dalton (GMIT, Irish Food Champions) and Mark McGowan (President, Restaurants Association of Ireland, Scholar’s Townhouse Hotel).
    • The producers of the Boyne Valley and beyond will be showcased throughout the day in self-shot snippets, including Hugh Maguire (The Smokin’ Butcher, celebrating the second annual National Black Pudding Day), Kevin Sheridan of Sheridan’s Cheese, Maria Flynn of Ballymakenny Farm, Eoin Sharkey of Maperath Farm, Michael Finnegan of Boyne Valley Farmhouse Cheese, John McDonnell of Shalvanstown Biodynamic Farm, Keith Coleman and Aisling McHugh of Rock Farm Slane/Slane Castle, Ruairi Browne and Laura McMenamy of Great Northern Larder and more.

    Audiences are encouraged to watch along from 12-5pm on Sunday 8th November as the event is live-streamed on two Facebook pages (HinterlandFestivalKells and BoyneValleyFlavours) and to interact on social media using #Samhain2020. This event is 100% free and registration isn’t required.