Janice Gault, Chief Executive, NI Hotels Federation

When I first heard the word Daikon, I assumed it was a rival vacuum cleaner to the Dyson. My next thought was that it was a type of diet, but this turned out to be Dukan, a protein based eating plan invented by renowned French doctor, Dr Pierre Dukan. After a little research, I discovered that the illusive daikon is in fact a type of radish. It is stalwart of Asian cuisine and sometimes referred to as a mooli. Daikon has crossed over to mainstream European cooking in recent times. Indeed on a recent visit to an acclaimed French restaurant, it appears as the mainstay of their canapé selection. It is not the only international ingredient to appear on our local menus: items like harissa, miso and bok choy have all transcended into Northern Ireland cuisine.

The NI Hotels Federation is currently organising an event called Taste of Tourism. We’ve been lucky enough to engage the services of food Trendologist, Charles Banks, to speak about the evolving nature of food and drink. Charles says that he learnt about food at his mother’s side and is a fourth generation foodie. His early food endeavours culminated in him winning Junior Master Chef, which led to a trip to France and a degree in catering.

From high-street restaurants, he moved into new product development at Saxbys. By the time he left for Grampian, Charles was head of this department, a role in which he would continue, working with among others, Sainsbury’s. There he met Wayne Edwards and the seeds for thefoodpeople were sown. Charles co-founded thefoodpeople with Wayne in 2004.

Over the last decade, this groundbreaking global agency has demonstrated a shared love and knowledge of food and drink and a passion for gastronomic trends. The team help to develop market-winning products and realise big food ideas. thefoodpeople produce great reports on food and beverage trends in the UK. I’ve now become acquainted with the Ube, a strangely purple yam. I’ve felt the heat of the Aji Amarillo and marvelled at the superfood status of the Yuzu.

As the culinary world appears to shrink, our available ingredients seem to grow. We’ve added spice to our local hero ingredients: creating Bombay Aloo with Comber Earlies, added seaweed to locally churned Abernethy butter and sun dried tomatoes to sodas! Come along and hear what Charles has to say about menus, adapting to culinary change and keeping ahead of trends.

The full programme for this year’s Taste of Tourism event is available on tasteoftourism.com and you can also book directly via the website. Book today and see if you can use agave to sweeten your menu and attract new customers!

Organised by the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, the Taste of Tourism food summit takes place on 4th April in the Culloden Estate and Spa.