After the success of March’s discussion on the future of Irish food production, chaired by Aoife Carrigy of (former Deputy Editor of FOOD&WINE Magazine), now turn their attention to the restaurant industry.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland, who will announce their annual restaurant awards on Wednesday 25 May, are warning that the industry is in crisis.

We will ask the following panelists: ‘Are Irish restaurants up the swanny?’

• Joe Macken, restaurateur (JoBurger & Crackbird)

• Enda McEvoy, chef (Gregan’s Castle & Cook Wild Project)

• Paul Cadden, restaurateur (Saba restaurant & former President of RAI)

• Caroline Byrne, food writer (Bridgestone Guide Dublin editor)

If we have had one Irish restaurant or coffee shop closing every day in the last two years as the RAI have reported, and if we are to expect 10 closures a week over the next year, as they have warned, is this an inevitable thinning out of an unsustainable ratio of restaurants to hungry punters? Do we have too many mediocre restaurants in the country who have gotten used to being able to serve overpriced food? Is competition not a good thing for consumers, and will the result be that only the fit will survive? Or are all restaurants struggling with unsustainable rents, wages and rates? And will the result be that only the bland survive and that restaurants aren’t in a position to take risks with their menus? Is it a race to the bottom?
And for all the restaurants that closed last year, what of those that opened? Is there a certain type of restaurant doing well at the moment? Do they have a formula that the others should follow? Should we focus on the success stories rather than the failures?
There will also be TASTINGS from several Irish artisan producers who will tell you a bit about why they do what they do. There will be a chance to win some great foodie PRIZES, and an inspirational talk from an Irish chef just back from a coveted stage at NOMA in Copenhagen, recognised as the top restaurant in the world. Manager of The Sugar Club and food writer ( & The Ticket’s Booking the Cooks column), Oisin Davis will host a KARAOKE COOK-OFF between DJs Conor G and David De Valera, who will pit their toastie sandwich-making skills against one another! And of course there will be a FULL BAR to help get the conversation going.
Doors 7pm (with discussion kicking off at 7.30pm sharp)
Admission is €5
For more info and updates on these events check out Holy Mackerel because food’s worth it!