Rugby ace Tommy Bowe searches for Leitrim’s top carvery

Top international rugby player Tommy Bowe has swapped his rugby kit for chef’s jacket to launch the third annual Great Carvery of the Year competition. As the competition’s new ambassador, Tommy is calling on pubs and hotels across Leitrim to dust off their carving knifes in a bid to be crowned Ireland’s Great Pub Carvey of the Year and Great Hotel Carvery of the Year.

Top international rugby player Tommy Bowe has swapped his rugby kit for chef’s jacket to launch the third annual Great Carvery of the Year competition. As the competition’s new ambassador, Tommy is calling on pubs and hotels across Leitrim to dust off their carving knifes in a bid to be crowned Ireland’s Great Pub Carvey of the Year and Great Hotel Carvery of the Year.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s competition, Tommy Bowe said: “On the rugby field we focus on getting the basics right and then building creativity, originality and innovation into our game. In my mind, these same elements are crucial to success in the kitchen. There are a huge number of pubs and hotels in Ireland serving up top quality carvery every day and the Great Carvery of the Year competition is special in that it recognises this effort. As the newest member of the Great Carvery team I’m really looking forward to seeing what the competition serves up, whether it be exceptional value, first-class customer service, clever use of local ingredients or all of the above.”

Launched in 2010 by Unilever Food Solutions Ireland, Great Carvery of the Year is a nationwide search for Ireland’s best pub and hotel carvery. Due to a hugely successful first year, the competition was expanded to create two separate categories of winner in 2011: the Great Carvery Pub of the Year and Best Hotel Carvery of the Year. Now entering its third year the competition is set for even bigger changes. For the first time the competition has been extended to include Northern Ireland, while a top three shortlist of Best Hotel Carvery and Best Pub Carvery from each region – Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster – will be decided by public vote.

Commenting on the changes to this year’s competition, Mark McCarthy, Unilever Food Solutions’ Business Development Chef, said: “The last two years of Great Carvery have been a huge success. We are consistently blown away by the standard of entries we receive and the calibre of our winners year-on-year.

“Looking forward to this year’s competition I’m excited to build on the success of the previous two years by making the competition the biggest it’s been yet. Central to this has been opening the competition up to Northern Ireland and I can’t wait to see – and sample – what the pubs and hotels up North have to offer,” he said.

With the public determining a top three shortlist of both pub and hotel carverys from each region, Mark also shares his top tips for those looking to vote for their favourite carvery. “A great carvery meal is about more than just the quality of the food served. It’s about atmosphere, value and exceptional customer service and attention. So remember to consider the overall offering when casting your all-important vote!”

Once the public has chosen its regional shortlist, Mark McCarthy and the Unilever team will have the unenviable task of whittling these venues down to just eight regional winners. This will involve mystery visits to venues across the country before the eventual Great Carvery Pub of the Year and Great Carvery Hotel of the Year, along with the regional winners, will be unveiled at a Grand Final event to be held in Dublin.

The overall winning venues will receive PR and marketing support to the value of €5,000 each. The winners will also receive a specially commissioned wall plaque and commemorative chalkboard to remind customers that they are about to sit down and enjoy the best carvery in Ireland.

The registration deadline for Great Carvery of the Year 2012 is Friday, 13th July after which voting will be opened to the public. The regional winners and overall Great Carvery Pub of the Year and Great Carvery Hotel of the Year will be announced at the inaugural Great Carvery of the Year Grand Final in Dublin in September 2012.

For registration and voting details click here.