... it is good enough for us!"
Diane Stopford, buyer in Dean & Deluca, USA, during an interview on Irish TV in February 2012
This is a most precious quotation from Diane Stopford, at the time buyer in Dean & Deluca, New York, which she made when she was asked on the Morning Show on Irish TV station TV3 (13 Feb 2012), if Dean & Deluca carried Irish food products. The quotation refers to the state dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's historic visit to Ireland in May 2011. And this is the curious story behind this quote.
As you might know, we have not smoked any wild salmon since 2006 when a driftnet fishing ban was introduced to Irish waters. Irish wild salmon was hand-fished and sold at the same price as gold-dust. For the salmon season of 2011, the strict fishing ban was lifted for small outfits fishing in rivers to maintain a healthy level of salmon in the breeding grounds (read more about wild salmon fishing).
One afternoon in May 2011, Birgitta got a phone call from Ross Lewis, the co-owner and head chef of the Michelin starred Chapter One Restaurant in Dublin. He and Garrett Duff from With Taste were going to cook for a Very Important Person which at the time he could not reveal the name of, and asked if we had wild salmon available.
We had not. Up to then, Birgitta had not given much thought to buying in wild salmon to smoke it.
Half an hour later, she got a phone call from a fishery outfit in County Waterford who were fishing salmon in the Blackwater River offering us wild salmon. How strange a coincidence was that?
They had four full salmon for us which we smoked - on their own - in the big kiln which has a capacity of 250 sides. Birgitta then took the eight fillets as they were and brought them to Dublin herself. The picture shows Birgitta with Garrett Duff from With Taste (on left) and Ross Lewis from Chapter One.
After she dropped off as many sides of the wild salmon that were needed there, she got a phone call from craft butchers Nolan's of Kilcullen just outside Dublin asking if she had wild salmon, they would need it for a lunch for a Very Important Person, couldn't divulge who it was? So, on her way back to Lisdoonvarna, she made a little detour and hand-delivered the remaining sides of salmon to Nolan's.
As we all know now, it was Queen Elizabeth II who everybody was cooking for. But it is a little-known fact that she ate our Burren smoked Wild Irish Salmon twice during her historic visit to Ireland: once at the State dinner on 18 May 2011 at Dublin Castle with over 170 guests, and then again a day later at a lunch in Kilcullen.
To close the circle and come back to the quotation by Diane Stopford - now you know why she made the comment. As an Irish woman, she followed the visit of the Queen to Ireland even though she is living abroad. She must have felt confirmed in her decision to list the Burren Smokehouse products with Dean & Deluca!