The House of Peroni is bringing Italy’s best foodie secret to Dublin this week, with a Sagra food event taking place in Meeting House Square on October 19th and 20th.
Celebrating Irish food producers creating authentic Italian food here in Ireland, the event is open to the public and visitors can meet the producers, hear their story and buy samples of their produce to take home.
Former World Young Chef of the Year, and Dubliner, Mark Moriarty, and Peroni’s Master of Taste have joined forces to create a sagra inspired cicchetti menu which will be available at La Sagra.
In addition to this, they have also created a menu for a special dining experience, marrying the techniques and rich tradition of Italian cuisine with award-winning Irish artisan produce, to deliver a dinner to remember!
Ahead of this exciting event, Mark and Francesco revealed some details about their experience working on this project and what visitors can expect.
You are two accomplished chefs utilising Italian-inspired Irish produce to bring an authentic Italian dining experience to Ireland. How did this partnership come about?
Francesco: Peroni Nastro Azzurro came to me with the idea of bringing an Italian Sagra to Dublin with The House of Peroni Presents La Sagra. In Italy, a Sagra is a traditional Italian festival that brings communities together to celebrate their local food produce.
Thousands of Sagre are hosted annually in towns and villages across Italy, as visitors and residents gather in the square to enjoy the seasonal speciality foods of their region. Ireland has great produce and The House of Peroni Presents La Sagra will celebrate Irish food producers in the authentic setting of an Italian Sagra. I will be working closely with Mark Moriarty, former World Young Chef of the Year, to create a Sagra-inspired menu for an immersive dining experience and a cicchetti menu for the Sagra which is open to the public.
Mark: Peroni Nastro Azzurro came to me with the idea of La Sagra and the opportunity to collaborate with Italian chef Francesco Mazzei to create a Sagra-inspired cicchetti menu, and the menu for the immersive dining experience. Ireland produces some great produce and The House of Peroni Presents La Sagra will celebrate this Irish produce.
This event is going to be a beautiful fusion of Italian and Irish food and culture. How has this experience been for you, both personally and professionally?
Francesco: It is an absolute pleasure to work with such a talented chap and I am looking forward to continue this.
Mark: It has been great to work alongside a chef of Francesco’s calibre and see his vision of food in comparison to my own. Personally, I have enjoyed the freedom to be creative using another country’s cuisine, working with ingredients I don’t usually work with and being able to present Italian dishes in my own style.
Italian cuisine is very popular in Ireland. Why do you think the Irish are so drawn to it?
Francesco: We share the same values of conviviality, along with simple and beautiful things such as the pleasure of eating and sharing a meal.
Mark: Italian food is honest, focused and full of flavour, much like our own cuisine. There’s comfort in the variety of carbohydrates used in Italy, and this is something the Irish palate loves.
Using the best of Irish produce inspired by Italy, Toons Bridge Dairy from West Cork and The Wooded Pig from Meath, do you feel these products are capable of making the traditional Italian food taste authentic, despite being produced outside of Italy?
Francesco: Absolutely. Since I moved to the UK, I have always been a firm supporter of sourcing local, and of course products that are up to high standards.
Mark: The producers we are using have taken Italian techniques to Irish produce. With exceptional recipes and raw materials, the finished products remain authentic.
Mark, you were crowned the San Pellegrino World Young Chef of the Year in Milan in 2015 and went on to work with Massimo Bottura in Milan in October 2016. How did these experiences enhance your love of Italy and Italian cuisine?
Mark: I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in Italy during my year in 2015/16, working alongside some great Italian chefs. I just loved how passionate all Italians, not just the chefs, were about Italian food.
It’s a celebrated element of everyday life in Italy. I have seen this passion really start to develop in Ireland in the last 5 years, particularly among my age group, in a way that wasn’t there before.
Are you glad to be returning to Ireland for this unique collaborative event?
Mark: Since finishing my pop-up world tour last October, I moved to Melbourne and have been back working hard and seeing new ideas.
I can’t wait to get home for a few days, it’s almost a year since I’ve done a pop-up anywhere in the world, so where better than Dublin.
Francesco, you have opened restaurants around the world and this year, opened a new Italian restaurant in Islington. With your vast experience in world cuisine, do you find yourself continuously drawn to the food you grew up with in Calabria? And is it important for you on a personal level, to bring authentic Italian cuisine to other countries like Ireland?
Francesco: Yes of course, although it’s constantly evolving throughout the years. Wherever I have travelled, and I have recently been around a lot, I always try to bring around my heritage as much as I can.
What do you think about the Italian-inspired ingredients produced in Ireland? How do they compare to traditional Italian produce?
Francesco: They are fantastic, I would not use them otherwise.
Why do you think Irish ingredients lend themselves so well to Italian cuisine?
Francesco: I think Irish ingredients lend themselves to Italian cuisine because they are grown with love and respect.
Mark: Absolutely, particularly our dairy and meats, which lend themselves to world class cheese making and charcuterie.
Do you feel like the Irish artisan producers embody the same level of passion as Italian producers?
Francesco: Yes, absolutely.
Mark: In my experience, yes. I’ve met producers from all over Ireland who are consumed in their passion and love of food. It shows in their products and it’s great to be able to showcase them at an event like this.
Can you give us any details about your Sagra-inspired dinner menu ahead of the event?
Francesco: I don’t want to spoil the experience, but it will be amazing.
Mark: The collaborative menu has been eye opening for me. I’ve enjoyed trying to reimagine some Italian classics in my style and presenting them as ideas to a decorated Italian chef is not easy! The menu will showcase both classic and reimagined interpretations of Italian cuisine.
Can you reveal your favourite dish on the event’s menu?
Francesco: Mark’s arancini of course!
Mark: Mine is a dessert inspired by a combination of olive oil and mozzarella cheese.
Why is Peroni is a good match for this event?
Francesco: Sagra is a celebration and Peroni is the perfect match because it’s fresh, light and crispy.
Mark: Peroni are a passionate Italian brand and have proven to be a leader in food and beverage pairing. I’m looking forward to being part of another successful Peroni event in Ireland.
What can attendees expect at the event? Are there any surprises in store?
Francesco: No surprises, just genuine and good food accompanied by the best beer.
Mark: It promises to be relaxed, fun and offering something you wont get anywhere else in town.
The House of Peroni’s La Sagra event is a beautiful merge of two cultures and an exciting collaboration between Ireland and Italy, are you both enjoying the opportunity to work together?
Francesco: Very much, it’s an absolute pleasure.
Mark: Ever since I saw Francesco on BBC’s ‘Madness of Michelin’ documentary in 2011, I have been a fan. So I’m really enjoying getting to work with him and his team and also learn a bit on the way.
During the Sagra evening, dishes will be introduced by Mark and Francesco, while guests will also get to hear from the local producers whose ingredients have been used throughout the menu, such as Italian-style cheese makers, Toons Bridge Dairy, and artisan salumi producers, The Wooded Pig.
Don’t worry if you missed out on tickets to the dining experience as Mark and Francesco’s Sagra-inspired cicchetti menu, as well as Peroni Nastro Azzurro, will be available at festival which is open to the public.
For more information, visit www.thehouseofperoni.com.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.