President’s Report – June

So to say it’s been busy would be an understatement! The Irish Restaurant Awards Food Oscars Final was held last month and a great night was had at the DoubleTree by Hilton with a beautiful meal presented to over 950 guests by the top chefs in our industry. There was a great buzz in the room and congrats to all the winners.

Our AGM was well attended and we had a fantastic line up of speakers from all over the world and it was enjoyed by all. I must thank the Shelbourne for looking after us so well throughout the day and night. I would also like to welcome and congratulate our new elected council. Council members are made up of various restaurateurs throughout the country who guide the direction of the organisations and raise issues at a local level. You can find a full list of council members here.

I must also thank all who attend our AGM and Presidents Dinner including Government Ministers Patrick O’Donovan T.D. and Shane Ross T.D. who assured myself and our members that our concerns would be addressed and he really did understand them. By the end of the evening I must say I felt that Minister Ross is one of the most competent Ministers we have and like myself is not afraid to address topics head on which I truly admire. I and the Association really look forward to working closely on lots of matters and issues that affect our industry and the country as a nation.

Here are the challenges that we face us as an industry. Challenges which we must continue to highlight to our politicians;

  • Calories and menus,
  • Shortage Chefs,
  • Minimum Wage,
  • Local Authority Charges,
  • Cost of Doing business,
  • Work Permits,
  • Rates,
  • Environmental Health Officers,
  • Rising Rents,
  • Excise Duty,
  • Maintaining the 9% vat rate.

As an industry, we have created well over 50,000 jobs in the last three years and are growing. We all played a massive role in the economic recovery in Ireland employing 90,000 people and contributing three billion to the Irish economy each year.

Unfortunately, we as restaurateurs usually have to absorb price increases but we must call on our new government and new ministers to understand the realization of implementation of new bills. Make them realise that the bills they bring forward affect us and the major costs associated with introducing them affect our industry. Make them realise that the extra costs that add to running a business sometimes have to be passed on to the consumer. With this in mind, I know it will hurt recent gains we have made as a country in offering value for money as a destination but it is necessary because although growth has occurred in some of the major hot spots, rural Ireland is still struggling.

One of my major goals is to get home economics mandatory on the national curriculum.  This provides students with knowledge and skills which enables them to understand the dynamic of food. In practice Home Economics allows students to plan meals and make informed choices when shopping for food, to read food labels correctly and importantly – to be able to cook nutritious meals for themselves and their families. I feel really strongly about ensuring Home Economics is made compulsory so that students can learn food safety and hygiene, food preparation and culinary skills. Myself with the support of the association and now with the backing of Neven McGuire, will meet with the Minister for Education and put a policy forward to him in relation to this. We need to educate before we legislate.

It gave me great honour to present this prestigious Mike Butt award to one of the finest ambassadors to the tourist and food industry this country has ever seen. Neven McGuire received this hall of fame award for consistently promoting Ireland as a world culinary destination, Neven is one of the finest chefs in the world and we are privileged to have you as a member of the Association. Over the years, you tirelessly have pushed Ireland as a food destination and continue to change the culinary landscape with your work ethic and dedication to culinary arts. Neven made an emotional speech and all of us in the room gave a standing ovation. You should be so proud of your achievements and I am indeed honoured to know you and call you a personal friend. Congrats again.

I must express my sincere sympathies on the death of Marty Nee Marty was well-known among the shellfish community around Ireland and ran his business Marty’s Mussels with his wife Catherine and also a provider to members of the association. Mine thoughts and the thoughts of the association are go out to everyone in his family.

The Irish Restaurants Golf Society had a great day at Corrstown Golf Club at the Jameson Gold Reserve Inter-Restaurant Competition and well done to team Eala Bhán Sligo who took the cup home and massive thanks to Patricia Mc Gowan who took charge of this event. As President of the RAI and captain for 2016 I would encourage new and existing members of the RAI to join this excellent golf society it’s a great way of meeting fellow restaurateurs and friends.

My Captains Day takes place at the K Club on the 27th of June and I look forward to meeting new members and existing ones at this day  please Call the office on 01 6779901 or email  to book your Tee Time see you there.

What weather we are having maybe not perfect for us as restaurateurs unless you have a BBQ area but we should not complain as it certainly customers are enjoying themselves.

Finally, thanks to all the staff at Team RAI for all the hard work over the season.

Anthony Gray

President of The Restaurants Association of Ireland


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