Focus on Food Conference

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Focus on Food Conference

Flash Sale - tickets 50% off! The Focus on Food Conference marks the start of a new food and drink journey for Belfast - Book your place

By Belfast City Council

When and where

Date and time

Tue, 28 Mar 2023 09:00 - 16:30 BST


ICC Belfast ICC Belfast, 2 Lanyon Place Belfast BT1 3WH United Kingdom

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About this event

Focus on Food Conference

ICC Belfast, Tuesday 28 March 2023

The Focus on Food Conference marks the start of a new food and drink journey for Belfast.

Book your place today - final week flash sale of 50% off

Belfast is fast becoming one of the UK's top destinations for outstanding food, drink, and hospitality. Food, drink, and hospitality make a significant contribution to the economy and culture of Belfast and Northern Ireland. The industry shapes the experience for many, drives economic activity and stimulates national and international tourism. The growing reputation of the city as a vibrant food and drink destination is built upon a range of factors including outstanding talent, the quality of its independently owned restaurants and bars, markets, distinctive food experiences and recent innovations, such as street food hubs, pop-up restaurants, micro-breweries, and community-focused venues. Belfast is proud to showcase producers from across Northern Ireland that are growing, rearing, fishing, and distilling world class food, and ingredients.

Guest speakers include: Grace Dent columnist, broadcaster, author, and restaurant critic for the Guardian and regular on critic on BBC’s Master Chef UK, Giles Gibbons founder of the Sustainable Restaurant Association and top chefs and Great British Menu contestants Gemma Austin and Chris McClurg.

Make sure you are part of the conversation: to participate and collaborate on the future of food, drink, and hospitality as the bedrock of Belfast and Northern Ireland’s economy, as a defining aspect of its culture and as a central element of its tourist experience.

Key Topics “on the table”

- nurturing talent

- sustainability best practice

- what makes a great food destination

- New Voices: Finding success in a competitive world.

- how to engage with Belfast's newly established Food and Drink Network

In addition to hearing from our industry experts, you’ll have a chance to interact and make connections with foodie colleagues and peers from across Northern Ireland at our ‘Producer showcase’ zone.

Who should attend Focus on Food 2023?

Anyone working or studying in the hospitality and tourism industries including chefs, restaurateurs, front of house staff, hoteliers, producers, farmers, distributors, food tourism professionals, students and venue managers.

Tickets include lunch refreshments. Student discounts apply.

Speaker Line up

Grace Dent, restaurant critic, The Guardian

Chris McClurg, Chef Patron, Paul Ainsworth's No. 6 (and Great British Menu winner)

Anna Pollock, Strategist on regenerative hospitality and tourism

Gemma Austin, Chef Patron, A Peculiar Tea (and Great British Menu finalist)

Skye Gyngell, Chef Patron, Spring and Heckfield Place

Giles Gibbons, Co Founder, Sustainable Restaurant Association

Conor Spacy, Founder, Food Space, Dublin

Vinny Hurrell, BBC Radio Ulster

Robin Gill, Chef Proprietor, Darby's group, London

Plus - Michele Shirlow, David Roberts, Christina Black, John Greer, Gary Quate, Una McMahon Beattie, Mairead McEntee



Registration and Introduction to Morning Session

Councillor Michelle Kelly, Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast

Anna Pollock, Strategist on regenerative hospitality and tourism


Morning Break, Networking and Producer Showcase


Grace Dent, Author, Broadcaster and Restaurant Critic, The Guardian

Wendy Langham, Belfast Stories.


Lunch Break, Networking and Producer Showcase


Afternoon panel sessions

1. Beyond sustainability: our collective responsibility to act. In conversation with Conor Spacey,

Founder of the Food Space; Skye Gyngell, Chef Patron of Spring and Heckfield Place; and Giles

Gibbons, Co-founder of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

2. Nurturing talent – the role of education in shaping Belfast’s culinary reputation. In conversation

with Professor Una McMahon Beattie, Chair, Council for Hospitality Management Education, and

Mairead McEntee, Ulster University.

3. New Voices: Finding success in a competitive world. Vinny Hurrell in conversation with Gemma

Austin, Chef Patron, A Peculiar Tea; Alex Greene, Head Chef, Deanes; and Chris McClurg, Chef

Patron, Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 in Cornwall.

Looking ahead – next steps for Belfast.

Donald Sloan in conversation with Michele Shirlow, Chief Executive of Food NI; David Roberts,

Director of Strategy, Tourism NI; Rachael McGuickin, Director of Business Development,

Sustainability and Transformation, Visit Belfast; and representative from, Beannchor Group.


Closing remarks and conference wrap-up

About the organiser

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