The French Ambassador to Ireland, Monsieur Jean-Pierre Thébault visited Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) today as part of the ‘Good France’ or ‘Goût de France’ series of culinary events being hosted throughout Ireland this March to celebrate French and Irish gastronomy.
According to Ambassador Thébault, ‘“Good France / Goût de France is an exceptional opportunity to showcase the vitality of agrifood links which exist between our two countries”.
“I am delighted that this third edition of Good France allows for the participation of Culinary Arts Schools in Ireland, many of whom share a strong connection with French schools, particularly under the Erasmus+ programme. The possibility for Irish and French students to train in another country, learn new skills and improve their language abilities during their education is a sign of the strong bonds which unite our two countries and an excellent sign for the future of French and Irish cuisine,” Ambassador Thebault said.
Welcoming Ambassador Thébault to WIT, Institute President, Professor Willie Donnelly spoke of the close historical links between Ireland and France and referred in particular to the excellent relationship that WIT enjoys with some twenty-two partner universities throughout France.
“French students account for one of our largest international student cohorts on campus with some 84 French students studying at WIT this academic year”, Professor Donnelly relayed.
The Goût de France lunch at WIT was based on a traditional 8 course menu by renowned French chef Auguste Escoffier. Escoffier launched the ‘Dîners d’Épicure’ (Epicurean Dinners) initiative in 1912; the same menu, on the same day, in several world cities. These dinners includes an apéritif with finger food, a starter, two main courses, a cheese platter and a dessert, accompanied by French wines. This international Good France event is to take place March 21 in 150 countries around the world bringing together some 2000 chefs in over 2000 different culinary establishments.
The culinary team at WIT was led by Chef Tony Barry, himself an admirer of Escoffier’s tradition, and students from the BA (Hons) Culinary Arts and Higher Certificate in Hospitality Studies programmes.
During the visit, Ambassador Thébault met with some of the French students who currently study at WIT across a variety of academic programmes. The Ambassador was particularly pleased to meet students from the Hotel and Tourism School at the University of Angers who are studying similar subjects at WIT and thoroughly enjoying their experience.
Head of Department of Languages and Tourism, Ray Cullen said, “The French language has been taught at WIT for over 40 years and is offered on a variety of programmes including the BA (Hons) programme in Arts, Bachelor of Business and BA (Hons) Hospitality Management. Students have the opportunity to spend one or two semesters of their undergraduate programme at WIT at any of our partner universities in France or indeed throughout the world.”
In attendance at the lunch were a wide variety of civic and industrial leaders from the city including Alderman Adam Wyse, Mayor of Waterford City and County, President of WIT, Prof Willie Donnelly, President of the Waterford Chamber of Commerce, Laurent Borla, himself a French citizen, Davy Walsh, chairman of the Waterford-Saint Herblain twin towns committee, representatives of the Waterford Alliance Française and a number of French language teachers from local secondary schools.