Barbara Collins has a background in news and current affairs. She has worked as a reporter and producer at BBC Northern Ireland for 12 years, but when she’s not grappling with the ins and outs of hard news, she’s thinking, or talking about food.
She is the resident food writer and restaurant reviewer at Flavour magazine and is a regular contributor to the Features section of the Farmers Guardian. She has also contributed to the Irish Farmers Journal’s Country Living supplement and does food and travel features for the Irish News.
Jenny leads on developing the Food for Life Catering Mark in the early years, higher education and healthcare sectors. With ten years’ experience of running PR and communications campaigns for charities and blue chip companies, Jenny also manages marketing for the Catering Mark.
Prior to joining the Soil Association, Jenny worked for Friends of the Earth, where she was involved in some high-profile campaigns.
The Catering Mark is available for all food providers. It offers a unique guarantee from the Soil Association that what's on the menu is fresh, free from controversial additives, and better for animal welfare. Over 500,000 meals with the Catering Mark are being served every weekday - that's more than 100 million each year.
Ben Craig, the entrepreneur behind Root & Branch Organic has teamed up with John McCormick, Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens to launch a new Belfast-based ethical business that integrates sustainable business with schemes for personal development in a community context.
This is a unique and valuable combination that aims to sell organic sustainably sourced products, provide excellent customer service, product information and personal and social development opportunities for its patrons. It will appeal to food lovers, professionals, musicians, artists, students, young people and persons looking to support local and environmentally conscious initiatives.
Visit www.rootandbranchorganic.com for more information.
Stephen Daye is the Parks & Countryside Development Officer for Carrickfergus Borough Council. Stephen has over 28 years of horticultural experience within local government. He trained at Belfast City Council and moved to Carrickfergus Borough Council 14 years ago.
In Carrickfergus, he has led a number of environmental and community projects such as Eden Allotment Gardens, which is Ireland’s largest allotment project. In recent years he has helped to form the Northern Ireland Allotment Managers’ Forum and the Northern Ireland Parks Managers’ Association. Stephen is a graduate of the University of Ulster where he received his BA in Business Studies and a Masters in Business Administration.
Barry has worked in the hospitality industry for over 22 years, five of which have been spent in Stormont’s Parliament Buildings as Executive Chef. Earlier, Barry worked in two Michelin-starred restaurants and has developed his skills in hotels and restaurants in the USA, in London and the Channel Islands.
Barry has a BA Hons degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Ulster at Coleraine. He is an Ambassador for the hospitality industry on behalf of People 1st and gives guest lectures to the Junior Chefs’ Academy, both of which are government sponsored organisations which promote the hospitality industry to young people.
Ian Garner heads the Waste & Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) Northern Ireland delivery of the Rethink Waste Programme from its Belfast office. Ian joined WRAP in 2003 and has led WRAP Northern Ireland’s establishment as a key resource efficiency delivery body.
He is a Chartered Environmentalist and a Chartered Water and Environmental Manager with 30 years’ experience in areas of waste management, wastewater treatment, contaminated land regeneration, chemical manufacturing and production process development.
Ian is WRAP’s main point of contact for the Northern Ireland Government and Northern Ireland Stakeholders. WRAP has also partnered organisations in the Republic of Ireland in cross-border market development projects, leading on the All-island Paper Mill feasibility assessment project of 2006/7, and as a member of the present North South Market Development Steering Group.
WRAP’s team in Northern Ireland works closely with businesses and the public sector and draws in expertise from its UK teams to deliver a comprehensive resource efficiency programme for the Department of Environment.
Jim Kitchen works with the Soil Association, managing a new project to develop sustainable food communities in Northern Ireland.
From 2007-11, Jim was the Northern Ireland Director of the Sustainable Development Commission, working with government Ministers, advisers and officials to embed sustainability in government policy. Prior to that, he established and developed the NI office of WWF, the world’s leading environmental organisation.
Jim is a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment at the University of Ulster. He advises the British Council in Northern Ireland on climate change, sits on the Council of the Ulster Wildlife Trust and the Steering Groups of Arena Network and Climate Northern Ireland.
Jim’s early career was as a teacher and Headmaster, thirteen years of which were spent in Zambia, where he indulged and developed his passion for the natural world and its wildlife.
John McCormick is the elected Soil Association Trustee for Northern Ireland. John has been running Helen's Bay Organic Gardens, an organic market garden with a box scheme since 1991. He has recently joined up with Ben Craig to establish Root and Branch Organic as a vehicle to take the box scheme to a wider audience and to develop other initiatives that support ethical consumerism. John is well known in the agricultural community as one of the early pioneers of organic agriculture in Northern Ireland.
Niall is the owner and head chef of the James Street South Restaurant. He built on his early experience in Belfast with 12 years in London, training under Michelin starred chefs Nico Ladenis, Gary Rhodes and Marco Pierre White.
Niall returned home to Belfast to open James Street South Restaurant in 2003; since then, he has won a loyal following and has enhanced the Belfast restaurant scene. The restaurant has won a clutch of accolades including Best Restaurant in Northern Ireland (Observer), Best Restaurant in 2008 (Which Good Food Guide) and it is currently listed in the Top 100 restaurants in the UK by the Restaurant Magazine and Eat Out magazine. Niall recently competed in the BBC2 series Great British Menu where he reached the UK final.
Niall has recently expanded his business with The Cookery School at James Street South, The Private Dining Room at James Street South and The Bar + Grill at James Street South. These new businesses are co-located with his original restaurant and offer a haven for all things culinary.
Maurice is a fourth generation farmer, based on the edge of Strangford Lough. He took over his family’s mixed vegetable and potato farm in 1977. Like many within the farming community Maurice, with his wife Judith, decided to diversify in 1984 and opened their first farm shop which was swiftly followed by a second in 1989. He was joint co-ordinator of the very first Farmers’ Market in St George’s Market, Belfast.
Within ten years, indomitable competition from the ever growing number of multiples forced the closure of both shops. He then had a major career change, when he took on a part-time job as a sales assistant with Marks & Spencer, which gave him the time, in 2006, to launch Ards Allotments on their farmland; they currently lease 48 private plots. He has since put 13 acres of his farm into organic conversion, which will be ready at the end of 2013.
Nick Price was trained at Bournemouth Hotel School where he graduated as Student of the Year; he has worked in the hospitality and affiliated industries for the last 36 years.
His career began in France where he worked in a variety of establishments, from simple places producing gutsy honest food to some rather more serious restaurants, all of which taught Nick that taste is the single most important thing that he could give his customers.
He married Kathy, his business partner, in 1978 and returned to his native Northern Ireland to set up a restaurant and bar operation on an island in Strangford Lough which rejoiced in the name Daft Eddy’s, a local folk hero.
In 1983 they set up their very own first venture in a converted court house near the family home in Killinchy and soon set up a network of local suppliers of fresh produce to go with the short daily menu of the best available ingredients. Nick’s flourished as a business but slowly Belfast was coming back to life after years of turmoil and the dream had always been to open a restaurant/wine bar operation in the heart of the city.
In 1989 Nick’s Warehouse was born, giving Nick the scope to trade at two levels with a formal restaurant and a wine bar operation to feed the hungry Belfast clientele. At first, they could only open at lunch as the trade simply was not there in the evening but as time went by the city became the vibrant buzzing place that it is today and trade increased accordingly. In 1997 the restaurant was enlarged by 90 seats to cope with demand and has grown to be at the heart of the Cathedral Quarter - a must-visit destination for every visitor to Belfast. Nick’s Warehouse appears in just about every major food guide and has been featured on various TV cookery programmes for RTE and Carlton TV.
Nick’s reputation has grown considerably over the years. He was Chairman of Taste of Ulster and led the North East Ireland Convivium of Slow Food. Currently, Nick is involved in a project to make artisan cheese and has just completed a course to learn about Salami making.
Michele is the driver behind Northern Ireland – Good Food is in our Nature, the industry campaign designed to connect the supply chain through a positive promotional message about Northern Ireland’s Food & Drink. Together with Taste of Ulster, the campaign provides a united voice for the industry.
Michele first qualified as an accountant in industry before she began working with SMEs in a senior management role in LEDU. She progressed to take responsibility for Export Marketing in Invest NI as Assistant Trade Director where she also completed a 3 year part time assignment in Poland working in a UK/Dutch government consortium to create Export Support Systems.
Michele supported the Industry body – The Food Strategy Implementation Partnership to implement their Fit for Market recommendations with DARD & Invest NI. She raised the £800k private sector funding required to create the Northern Ireland – Good Food is in our Nature message which she has delivered over the last 2 years.
Inspired by her experiences overseas, Michele is a passionate believer in working collectively to spread a positive message about Northern Ireland.
Craig is the Area Warden for the National Trust in Belfast. He studied Forestry at Newton Rigg College, Cumbria. Craig and his team manage a number of National Trust countryside properties in and around the city.
In recent years he has established Community Allotments at Minnowburn in South Belfast and at Greenhill near Annahilt. Craig grew up in south Belfast and still lives there with his wife and two young children.
Malcolm moved in Retail Markets Management in the mid 1990’s with a succession of management roles within Councils in Leeds, Huddersfield and Bradford.
During this time he worked to deliver three International Market Festivals, celebrating the theatre and personality of outdoor market trading by inviting market traders from across Europe and beyond. These events raised the national profile of the Markets Industry in the UK with the 2006 event generating over 700,000 visitors and over £15m in local economic activity for the Bradford Council District.
In January 2008 he moved to Bolton Council as the Assistant Director of Environmental Services, including Markets, School Meals Service and Bereavement Services, leading a workforce of 1400 with a turnover of £24m. This senior management team went on to win ‘Management Team of the Year’ at the UK Local Government Chronicle Awards in March 2011.
However his passion for markets has not diminished with Bolton Market winning a number of awards in the last three years. The Tourism Retailer of the Year Award at the Manchester Tourism Awards in 2009 was followed by the Best Indoor Market in Britain Award from NABMA in January 2010, the ‘5 a Day Supporter of the Year’ Award from the Fresh Produce Consortium (UK) in May 2011 and most recently the UK’s Best Food Market, BBC Food & Farming Awards in November 2011.
Malcolm sits on the Working Group for Retail Markets chaired by the Communities and Local Government Department of National Government and was invited to a ‘think tank’ session on future leadership in the public sector for the internationally renowned Ashridge Business School UK. He has also represented the UK at European Retail Markets industry meetings with the European Union and is also a member of the national working group set up as a result of the Mary Portas Review of the High Street.
When not at work he plays golf (badly), 5 a side (reasonably well) enjoys refereeing local league football and travelling the UK in his heritage VW campervan called Emma.