Building on the success of its last three outings, Samhain has firmly established itself within the fibre of the Boyne Valley by stimulating conversations on Irish food and culture and cementing its status as an important fixture on the food festival schedule. Exploring thought, taste and intrigue through discussion, demonstration, workshops, talks, tours and play, Samhain will take place in the heritage town of Kells once again from Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th November.
As well as an enviable line-up of award-winning chefs, best-selling cookbook authors, culinary experts, and international guest speakers, organisers Boyne Valley Flavours will also unveil their vision for launching Ireland’s very first ‘Centre of Food Culture, Boyne Valley’, a groundbreaking project to foster, safeguard and support Irish food and culture, supported by Meath & Louth County Council.
Building on what was announced as an idea at Samhain 2021, the concrete vision will be unveiled and not to be missed during the Samhain Symposium (Friday 4/11, 2-5pm, Kells Courthouse). This afternoon of presentation and discussion will be chaired Dr. John McKenna (McKenna’s Guides) and feature Rinaldo Giacomo Rava (University of Gastronomic Science, Pollenzo, Italy) Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire (TU Dublin) Darina Allen (Ballymaloe Cookery School), Chef JP McMahon (Eat Galway Group), Kevin Sheridan (Sheridan’s Cheesemongers), and Maria Flynn (Ballymakenny Farm).
Across three days of events, this year’s festival programme includes captivating cookery demos, panel discussions cocktail masterclasses, kids cookery classes and food and drink tastings as well as the anchor event, the Samhain Supper, taking place in the Headfort Arms on the Saturday night — tickets limited (100 max, €75pp) and a fast event to sell-out annually, so fastest fingers first.
Three key spaces will house the events across the schedule: the beautifully-restored Kells Courthouse (Tourism and Cultural Hub), The Red Church, a stunning and historic red brick chapel in a former convent which will house the ‘Spirits of the Boyne Valley sessions’ and the hospitality anchor of the town, Headfort Arms.
Among the demos across the Saturday and Sunday will be:
- JP McMahon with Taste The Atlantic Seafood Ambassador Chef Roann Byrne
- Patrick & Russell of GastroGays (authors of Hot Fat)
- Jess Murphy of Kai Galway (co-author of United Nations of Cookies)
- Lily Ramirez-Foran of Picado Mexican (Author of Tacos)
- Kwanghi Chan of Bites by Kwanghi and ChanChan (Author of Wok)
- Dr. Martin Ruffley with Jacinta Dalton
- Darina Allen with Hugh Maguire The Smokin’ Butcher
- Graham Herterich of The Cupcake Bloke and The Bakery Rialto
Each demo is €5 to attend and pre-booking is essential. Uniquely, each of the demos are led by published authors – a nod to the festival’s literary tradition and emphasis too – and each author will conduct a book signing post-demo, in association with Antonia’s Bookstore.
A trad session in Jack’s Bar on opening night with Carlingford Oysters and local beers
Flavours of the Boyne Valley interactive cocktail session with GastroGays
Meet the Maker: James Tallon at Martry Mill
A Whistle Stop Tour of the Boyne Valley with Whistler Whiskey and Boann Distillery ft. Glasgow-Diaz
Slane Rocks: 40 Years of Whiskey & Rock ’n’ Roll with Alex Conyngham & Ali Dunworth
A history of cider in Ireland with Mark Jenkinson of The Cider Mill
The Women who Created the Irish Farmhouse Cheese Revolution with John & Sally McKenna
Rookie Cookie: Kids Cooking Classes with The Bunnery Cookery School
GIY Diaries with Michael Kelly
The Story Matters Most with Devin O’Sullivan
Scoop: What is Irish Food? With Dee Laffan (Editor) and Kristin Jensen (Publisher)
Irish Raw Milk Cheese & Craft Beer with Kevin Sheridan and Judith Boyle
As part of the schedule, a brand new competition event will see a Samhain Schools TY Young Cooks of the Year Competition held throughout Friday morning, sponsored by SuperValu Food Academy. The cook-off final will see teams of two from eight different schools in the Louth/Meath areas going head-to-head, tasked with creating a two-course meal that heroes at least two local ingredients per dish from Boyne Valley Flavours producers. Among the trio of chef judges will be: Jess Murphy of Kai in Galway, Conor Halpenny of Square in Dundalk, and Pauric White of Cavan Institute of Technology and Tutor on Chef Apprenticeship Programme.