local food, restaurants, food value chain, Ireland
Restaurant chefs and owners have a potentially influential role to play in promoting the use of local foods and
supporting producers. Indeed chefs are taste makers, and their conceptualization of local food can influence consumers’
perceptions, knowledge and geographical awareness. Yet their role is not well documented in research literature. In-depth interviews were conducted with seven purposively selected chefs in Galway City, Ireland, who are seeking to develop a
local cuisine. Menus, websites, and statements of philosophy were also analyzed. Attention focused on the definition of local food, sources of supply, how local food is used in cuisine, and how it is presented on menus. Common themes among restaurants include the geographic stretching of local food to include artisan products, issues of seasonality and variability in supply, and questions about the authenticity of promoting the use of local foods. There are opportunities for
building linkages between chefs and local producers, to promote authentic use of locally sourced foods.
Recommendations are made for five strategies to build a sustainable local food geography, based on strengthening the
farmer- to-chef shortened value chain.