A taste of success for IFEX 2018
Jean-Christophe Novelli stops for a drink with Johnsons Coffee at IFEX 2018
Sean Owens, Jean-Christophe Novelli and David Close.
“With the addition of Meat@IFEX and the World Butchers’ Challenge we had high hopes for this year’s event, however IFEX 2018 has exceeded all our expectations!” comments Caroline McCusker, Event Director of IFEX.
IFEX 2018 saw over 6500 visitors descend on the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, making it the biggest turnout for the exhibition to date. With exhibitors reporting that substantial business was done and overwhelming positive feedback from visitors and exhibitors alike, IFEX 2018 really did serve up a show that will benefit all of those involved in the months and years ahead.
IFEX Event Manager, Caroline McCusker adds: “We have worked hard on this show for the past two years. Our goal was to make IFEX 2018 as good as it could be and the vibrancy and atmosphere over the three days was incredible.
“In the build up to the sold-out event, the signs were very positive, and we are thrilled to hear exhibitors are reporting that major deals have been done.”
Exhibitors’ efforts to showcase their businesses in the best possible manner really added vibrancy to the event and for visitors, they got to sample the food and drink on offer, including the award-winning products that were on display at the Great Taste Market.
IFEX was officially opened on Tuesday 20th March by Multi-Michelin star award-winning chef, Jean Christophe Novelli, who joined Sean Owens, Director of Salon Culinaire on the podium.
Jean-Christophe Novelli praised the quality of local produce on display and also welcomed the large crowds on the first day of the event saying: “Northern Ireland is fast-becoming world-renowned for its hospitality offering, and IFEX plays such a pivotal role in the development of skills and securing future business for the 200 plus exhibitors who participated at the show.
“I was really impressed with the calibre of exhibitors; the chefs, both young and senior taking part in the live competitions, and the overall positive atmosphere at the show.”
Taking home one of the biggest awards at IFEX was Paul Cunningham from Brunel’s Restaurant, Newcastle, who was named DAERA NI Chef of the Year. Paul competed against five other culinarians to win the top accolade, impressing the judges with his creative flair and inspirational use of ingredients throughout the course of the competition. Thrilled with winning, Paul commented: “IFEX is synonymous as the event where NI’s top chefs first won their medals and to be crowned DAERA Northern Ireland Chef of the Year is incredible.
“It is a huge honour to win and to now be included in the hall of fame alongside such industry heavyweights is a dream come true. Having come second in the competition last year, my goal this year was to go the distance and reach the top spot and I’m thrilled to have achieved this. I was up against some tremendous talent, which makes this victory even more special.”
With over 200 companies showcasing innovative products and services, visitors had a wealth of new products to see, taste and learn about.
This year IFEX almost doubled its show size with the addition of a sister event – Meat@IFEX, which welcomed over 500 international delegates from across 12 countries, who competed in the World Butchers’ Challenge. Following an outstanding display of butchery skills and creativity, the home nation, Team Ireland, was announced as the best in the world, being crowned as the world’s top butchers. Team Ireland was made up of: Garrett Landers, Team Ireland Captain; Ian McKernaghan, Team Ireland Vic-Captain; Stephen Cooke; Eamon Etherson; Stephen Millar and Colly Donnelly.
The World Butchers’ Challenge aims to showcase skill and innovation in the butchery trade and there was further success for Team Ireland in the Best Pork Product and Best Sausage categories.
As the premier trade event for the food, retail and hospitality industry, IFEX returns in early 2020.