Attention Dubliners: we’re incredibly lucky to inhabit a city with such foodie inclinations and a culinary largesse.

Right now, Dublin offers an exquisite blend of Michelin-starred fare, outstanding street food, hipster eateries and friendly local restaurants. And let’s not forget the evolution of our drink culture either.

We were once a city of avowed tea drinkers and pint lovers; we’re now as au fait with cocktails and customised artisan coffee blends as any seasoned mixologist or barista – and loving them. We’ve also fully embraced the juicing phenomenon, but still find time for a cuppa. Or three.

According to James Burke, Dublin Food Chain’s network manager, Dublin is now the largest geographical area for emerging food businesses

Dublin has succulent resources – arguably some of the best dairy products, organic vegetables and internationally acclaimed meats in the world – and Dublin Food Chain is working hard to ensure that the city’s unique food heritage is getting the recognition it deserves.

Since 2010, DFC has been promoting and expanding Dublin’s food sector, via training, marketing initiatives and networking. But who exactly makes up the Dublin Food Chain? Essentially, every sector of the industry, from producers, retailers, and suppliers to cafes, delis, restaurants and bars, and indeed, anyone who works in the food industry in this town and is passionate about supporting and using locally-sourced food ingredients.

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The 1900-strong (and constantly growing) membership base includes companies big and small, from fruit and vegetable growers Keelings to the deliciously named Improper Butter Company, who produce a range of butters in flavours that include sunblushed tomato and basil, and cinnamon and honey. According to James Burke, Dublin Food Chain’s network manager, Dublin is now the largest geographical area for emerging food businesses. “Traditionally more food producers emerged from the regional areas,” he says. “This has reversed in the last two years because of the supports that have been put in place by the Local Enterprise Offices. Now those emerging with a new food idea can participate in food-specific programmes such as Kick Start Your Food Business and The Food Academy.”

Dublin Food Chain says its goal is to help the county nurture its enviable status as an iconic food brand

While the Dublin Food Chain has rich ingredients to work with, it still faces challenges. From the food producer’s point of view, Burke says these include the logistics of getting deliveries around the busy streets of the capital and the lack of areas available for food trucks to sell from – although this is currently being addressed by Dublin City Council with the creation of a new strategy for markets in the city.

The forum has been pushing its agenda in a number of ways, hosting mentor events and facilitating fact-finding trips to other food-forward cities; they also have over 40 interns from DIT working with Dublin’s food producers, supporting projects such as the creation of digital media strategies.

Ultimately, Dublin Food Chain says its goal is to help the county nurture its enviable status as an iconic food brand – there’s certainly no doubt that there’s a huge appetite, from consumers and producers alike, that it achieve this delicious aim.

For more information visit www.dublinfoodchain.ie

Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

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