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Top chef to tell stories of Northern Ireland's artisan producers

By Rachel Martin

An internationally renowned Co Armagh television chef says he wants to put Northern Ireland cuisine on the map from his new base in China.

Award-winning food writer and China TV chef James McIntosh (37) has set his sights on producing a cookbook showcasing quality food and drink producers from across Northern Ireland.

The book will also include interviews with Northern Ireland's diaspora, the men and women who now work in far flung corners of the world.

It's has been timed to coincide with Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink and will be published in 2017 as a legacy of the year-long celebration.

Mr McIntosh, who used to work for a publisher, said he had come to believe that Northern Ireland was missing out on major awards by not marketing its food better.

Through the book he aims to "tell the stories, not the news, of every food company and every town in Northern Ireland".

Mr McIntosh is famous in the Far East for his cookery shows, some of which have reached over one billion people.

Growing up in the Tandragee, Co Armagh countryside with his mother, a home economics teacher, Mr McIntosh quickly learned the value of good food.

He says those early lessons have stuck with him in later life and influenced a 'farm to fork' theme in his career.

Over the last few years, Mr McIntosh has travelled across China taking part in award-winning television documentaries and appearing on the famous China TV show Day Day Up with an audience of up to a billion people.

His food travels started at just 18 when he toured Siberia. Since then he has travelled across Europe and into the Baltic States, Japan, Middle East and further afield.

Highlights of his career include launching the Aga pro range in North America as well as co-presenting a 20-part food series on China TV.

Speaking about his latest venture, Mr McIntosh said: "It's an exciting project.

"We've already started by writing about the incredible story of Lough Neagh eels, and Leggygowan goat's cheese of Saintfield."

Previous titles from James McIntosh include Food on the Silk Road, also the theme of a television series in China, as well as a series of books about cooking with Agas.

The whole book is about storytelling, Mr McIntosh said.

"Food is the story of a people on a plate, and each plate has a story - it benefits a community and nourishes a family."

He said his book would tell the story "of all the small producers who make the taste of Northern Ireland unique" and focus on artisan produce.

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