Pro chef and chef director across the Rick Stein restaurants, Jack Stein, to headline 'The Taste of Tourism Summit'

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Following a four-year break, the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation has announced the return of ‘The Taste of Tourism Summit’ on Tuesday 28 February in the Culloden Estate and Spa.

The summit provides an opportunity for businesses to hear first-hand from a line-up of specialist speakers who have used food and drink to attract new customers, improve profits and enhance their reputations.

Janice Gault, Chief Executive of NI Hotels Federation, said: “For any business in the tourism spectrum, food and drink have a central role. It’s important to understand emerging trends, changing consumer needs and what’s in vogue for the traveller seeking an authentic culinary experience. The summit will explore the relationship between food and culture, the concept of food heritage and how to create a foodie destination. We will also be examining the skills shortage and providing practical advice on how to reduce costs.

“This year’s speakers reflect the complexity of food and drink in 2023. Their contributions will help you adapt to changing consumer demands, improve your profitability and attract more customers. We also plan to discuss trends in sustainable tourism regarding sustainable food consumption and food waste management. Delegates will have the opportunity to meet artisan producers, sample their unique produce and then garner insights from experts in the sector who are producing exceptional menus, building loyal customer bases, and thriving.”

Jack Stein. Image: Paul Winch-FurnessJack Stein. Image: Paul Winch-Furness
Jack Stein. Image: Paul Winch-Furness

Attendees at this year’s Summit will have the pleasure of meeting pro chef and chef director across the Rick Stein restaurants, Jack Stein. Born in Cornwall, Jack is the middle son of Rick and Jill Stein. His love for the hospitality world, in particular the kitchen and food-side of things, was apparent from a young age.

Jack began his career working as a kitchen porter during the school holidays and, at 16, tried his hand at front of house, working as a waiter throughout the remainder of his professional education. Jack studied at Cardiff University, completing a BSC in Psychology before going on to do a Masters in Ancient History. However, his heart was set on cooking, and he re-entered the family business as a Commis Chef at The Seafood Restaurant upon graduating, before becoming Sous Chef at Rick Stein’s Café.

Jack is best known for a love of fresh, simple seafood and he sees many similarities between Cornwall and Northern Ireland.

He commented: “I am looking forward to returning to Northern Ireland and love talking to other chefs from the region about the shared food heritage between Cornwall and Northern Ireland. We are lucky enough to work with great local seafood, exceptional dairy products and a wide range of artisan producers. I have created a menu showcasing great produce which ensures that the dinner is not only unique, but seasonable and sustainable as well. It will be good to share my story at the summit and give an insight into my life and the culinary adventures I have been on.”

Fruits de mer. Image: SAM A HARRISFruits de mer. Image: SAM A HARRIS
Fruits de mer. Image: SAM A HARRIS

Popular writer and broadcaster, Stefan Gates, who is renowned for his love of quirky culinary quests and extraordinary food adventures will outline the key issues facing the global food community.

Founder and Chair of All-Ireland Sustainability and Triterra, Danielle McCormick, will discuss the impacts of food waste on businesses.

The Hospitality and Food Sector (HaFS) across the UK and NI wastes approximately 1.1 million tonnes of food per year, costing the industry a shocking £3.2 billion each year, with 75 per cent of that food being perfectly edible.

Not only is this severely impacting the bottom line of businesses across the region, but it is releasing enough greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere that make it the third largest emitter of GHG after China and the US. During this presentation, delegates will discover the business case behind why you should get onboard with curbing food wasted from your business, and how to take simple actions that can result in major wins.

Jack Stein pictured with chefs. Image: Sam HarrisJack Stein pictured with chefs. Image: Sam Harris
Jack Stein pictured with chefs. Image: Sam Harris

Award-winning investigative journalist, Joanna Blythman, will update delegates about the pros and cons of veganism, whilst top food blogger, Niamh Shields, will focus on the power of social media and provide tips on how to promote businesses digitally.

With a passion for driving change and finding sustainable solutions, Sally O’Kane, Head of Compliance and Sustainability at Frylite Group Ltd., will outline Frylite’s mission to reduce business waste and improve efficiency.

Eco-minded entrepreneur, Carina Conyngham, who, since moving to Ireland, has established a gold-certified ecotourism business, will share her insights. Rock Farm is a 90 acre organic farm situated on the Slane Castle estate along the banks of the River Boyne just opposite the Castle and Distillery. From concerts with star appearances by Harry Styles to weddings and whiskey, Carina is helping Slane Castle diversify from its historical roots to providing a unique luxury experience.

Industry panellists on the day include chefs Andy Rea, Paula McIntyre and Suzie Lee, Causeway foodie Geri Martin, chef turned producer Paul Cunningham and tourism consultants Sharon Scott and Julie O’Brien.

Jack Stein. Image: Sam HarrisJack Stein. Image: Sam Harris
Jack Stein. Image: Sam Harris

This full-day event includes breakfast, lunch and refreshments. Delegates will leave with a special ‘Summit Bag’ and inspiration from some amazing, internationally-acclaimed speakers. Curated artisan food and drink will also be served up at an Artisan Marketplace throughout the day.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA); Tourism NI; Tourism Ireland; Invest NI; Bunzl McLaughlin; Frylite; North Down Group; Hastings Hotels; Coca-Cola HBC NI; Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council; Belfast City Council; Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council; Derry City and Strabane District Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

If you run a hotel, restaurant, bar or any hospitality business with a food element, this is the conference for you. For further details or to book your space, log on to