President’s Report – November 2019

It is hard to believe we are into the final quarter and preparing for Christmas. The past month was a very exciting time for our industry, Michelin stars were awarded in venues across the country bringing our total stars up to 18. There is a feeling of pride within our Industry, congratulations to all that have been awarded stars and bibs and also those that have retained their stars. It is also important to acknowledge our farmers and producers, they too deserve recognition for providing us with the tools in the form of outstanding raw ingredients and produce. It can never be underestimated the importance of how they contribute to our sense of place and the story of our Island through food. 

The development of our food culture has been revolutionised in recent decades and we are most definitely experiencing the pinnacle of modern Irish cuisine. Considering the skills shortages in our kitchens and front of house, we have shown once again our resilience and determination. These recent awards shout the message loud and clear that Ireland is one of the greatest food destinations in the world. We want to maintain these standards, it is vital our businesses are equipped with skilled staff. We are consistently lobbying the Work Permits Section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to speed up the processing of work permits and through our Restaurant and Hospitality Skillnet we are working to develop and maintain more quality staff. It is a primary goal for us to ensure that we as an industry can deliver on our commitments of exceptional service to our domestic consumers and international visitors alike.

Last month we had a situation where our meat processing plants and our farmers were in a dispute. The result was a stalemate between the parties and suddenly there were shortages appearing countrywide. The timing for this dispute was incredible as Failte Irelands Taste the Island initiative was in full flow. A disruption like this may have been detrimental to the campaign. Thankfully there was resolution and I am urging all parties to consider the potential impact that a dispute like this has on the economy.

In the coming months the Restaurant Association of Ireland will be delivering an employer programme which will be accessible to all members as part of the overall membership and is an easy to use cloud based programme. I feel that this initiative will be of great benefit to our restaurants and it will assist in retaining staff. It will also identify strengths and weaknesses which will afford businesses the opportunity to focus on areas that need improvement. It is my hope that all restaurants will embrace this employer programme as it will strengthen the calibre of our workforce as it will make our industry more attractive to potential employees. 

I hope that Christmas bookings are coming in quickly and I look forward to my next update in December.