Sheena Dignam leads food enthusiasts around Galway’s finest food destinations, sampling fresh sushi, the finest cheese, oysters, mouth-watering breads, savoury bites, and sweet treats. Recently we spoke with her about the many flavours to be found in the ‘City of the Tribes’.

What is your own ethnicity/heritage?
I was born in Ireland and moved to France at the age of 7. Studied Culinary Arts and Wine in the Loire Valley.

When and why did you start Galway Food Tours?
3 years ago.

Are they the same reasons you do it today?
Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. I originally started the tours for my French comrades to showcase what amazing produce we have in Ireland as I would often noticed that our reputation in Irish food was not the best. Now I receive guests from all over the world and I love showing them off the beaten track places to go. Great products to eat and drink all the while soaking up the amazing atmosphere of the West.

How has the company grown over time?
I have been blessed that there is an increasing demand in Food Tourism at the moment in Ireland. And food tours are increasingly becoming a popular option of things to do when they visit a city. I have now developed Wild Atlantic Way Food Tours for this year, where we fly over to the Aran Islands and discover some amazing farmers, Brewery’s, Gastronomic castles in Connemara. I have also started Brewer/Whiskey and Sweet Tooth Tours.

What are the challenges involved? 
The logistics of planning itinerary’s in the countryside and to constantly be thinking of implementing the next new tours.

What are the rewards?
To see the people enjoying themselves, having an authentic and unique experience/ hearing and reading the great feedback. Being referenced in guidebooks like the Lonely Planet and McKenna’s.

Who are your clients, and what can they expect on a food tour?
I am delighted to have a great mix of clients. But, in general, they are couples over 30. My guests will experience a very authentic way of visiting Galway. Meeting the locals , tasting everything from award winning cheeses, local, crab, Irish Sushi, Seaweed Bread, Whiskeys, Poitin (Irish version of Moonshine), Courgette cakes, Oysters to name a few. The tour would normally replace a lunch.

What makes Galway such a unique culinary destination? 
We are blessed to have such wonderful producers many have been producing in there family for generations. We also have amazing selection of restaurants with wonderful chefs at the helm, some that have Michelin stars others award winning. They All work very closely with local producers.

What is Irish cuisine, and how has it evolved in recent years?
Irish cuisine is changing quiet rapidly. I think a few decades ago we were always looking at what didn’t have and import a lot; but we now have confidence and are proud of the terrific products we have to offer. We are eating more varied foods and cuisines.

What are your thoughts on the current state of Ireland’s culinary industry today?
It is a very interesting time to be in Ireland’s culinary world these days. We make a huge emphasis on sourcing local, using old and new techniques. We have wonderful dairy, meets, fish/shellfish, beers, whiskeys, at our fingertips and we have very talented people that make it happen \.

How can it be improved?
Teaching children the importance of eating properly. Introducing them to different foods and educating them on the whole process from the soil to the plate.

What’s next on your culinary agenda?
I am going to France in the next few weeks to visit a series of oyster beds in La Rochelle, before my season kicks off.  I will be throwing in a few good restaurants along the way too.