Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative Society was “delighted” at its invitation to a two-week Taste of Northern Ireland event at London store, Fortnum & Mason.
Hand-picked from a number of local fine food and drink producers, Production Development and Marketing Manager Cathy Chauhan told the Mail it was a fantastic opportunity to showcase their smoked eel range.
A 309-year-old iconic family business, Fortnum & Mason is famous for bringing the finest food and drink to customers from all over the world.
Between May 5-19, Cathy represented Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative at the store, and met Prince Charles, whom she said was very interested in eel.
With customers from all over the world, she said it was also a great opportunity to let them taste Lough Neagh eels.
“We had a real range of international visitors to the stand as well as people who shop in Fortnum & Mason all the time,” she said.
“It was also encouraging a lot of Northern Irish people who live there, to come in and see products from home.
“There was a real mix of people and a really great reception to it. People were loving it and a lot of people who didn’t like fish, gave it a try.
“It’s not a heavy smoked product, smoked eel.”
As for what Prince Charles thought, she said: “He was very interested in eel in general and has a great interest in food and the environment, so he asked me a few questions about the seasonality of it.”
Cathy said the Co-op now hopes the event will open up some new lines of business.
“They already have some local suppliers in there,” she explained, “(but) we are hoping there’s a possibility that they’ll continue to take the product. We are having a tasting session with them just before the end of the promotion, so hopefully we’ll have some conversations with them then.”
Speaking at the event, First Minister, Arlene Foster said: “I am delighted to support Fortnum & Mason’s celebration of Northern Ireland Food and Drink. Invest NI has worked closely with Fortnum & Mason in delivering this showcase which, I have no doubt, will generate increased sales in Great Britain for many of our local businesses.”
Ewan Venters, CEO of Fortnum and Mason said: “Northern Ireland boasts an abundance of world-class produce. The quality of everything is astounding.”