WIT Director Kieran Byrne fondly recalled last year’s Terra Madre festival during a media briefing at the Cork Road campus on Friday last.
He believes that the success of the festival could in turn create a new regional food culture based in Waterford,
“I would like to see Ireland promoted through food and not just via the well-known pub culture that we have here,” said Professor Byrne.
“Given all the talk of carbon footprints and the environmental impact now associated with where and how we source our food, local produce is destined to become more popular.”
Added Prof Byrne: “The south east region possesses a climatic advantage and we have several fruit farms and vegetable growing operations to re-assert that point.
“This could aid Waterford and the south east to create its own food culture and its own brand of food, be it fish from Dunmore East, Passage East, meat from cattle farms in the county, the produce of local cheesemakers and so forth.”
On the price front, Prof Byrne believes there may be more value needed to attract overseas tourists through, for example, early bird menus.
“The Irish tourist industry needs to attract a greater volume of visitors consuming at lower prices, as opposed to just availing of exclusive Irish food,” he added.
“International tourists will want better prices and value and a distinctively local flavour. They will not just be content with what the Irish pub can offer, I believe. They will also great local Irish food that will augment their holiday experience.”
Through its training students in food production and presentation, WIT is ideally positioned to develop what Prof Byrne described as “a regional food focus”.
He added: “By continuing to produce highly qualified graduates, the local hotel and catering industries will benefit from a new workforce moulded with this new food culture in mind.
“We as a nation need to move positively down this road for the future and the south east could lead the way as we have the climate and infrastructure to make this happen.”