Queen's University food markets give students true taste of world
Queen's University is to hold a series of food markets on campus aimed at raising the profile of local producers and introducing foreign students to Northern Ireland flavours.
Elmwood Hall on University Road will host the first event, on February 9, coinciding with Chinese New Year.
"We'll have a Chinese theme, with dragon dancing from the Queen's Chinese Society and up to a dozen stands with a range of different foods," said Brian Horgan, head of campus food and drink.
"We plan to hold food markets four or five times over the year, at Elmwood Hall and other venues on the Queen's estate. They're aimed at our international students, to give them an introduction to the range of food available here, as well as the 2,000 or so staff who work here and the local community in south Belfast.
"We held a global food market at Elmwood in October and it was very successful.
"It got us thinking that this is something we could do more often. Closer to the summer we hope to hold an outdoor market on the Medical Biology Centre site on Lisburn Road."
Queen's has advertised for local traders to take part in the markets and hopes to attract the type of artisan producers and coffee specialists who regularly trade at the popular St George's Market in Belfast.
"We hope to offer people a bit of variety, to let them try something new. It all ties in with the Year of Food and Drink, and around December we plan to hold a major two-day event, celebrating the best of Northern Ireland food," said Brian.
Brian is responsible for all the on-site catering at Queen's and has just taken over running the bars and restaurants at the Students' Union. "We have a major emphasis on quality local produce right across the campus," he said. "With the banqueting in the Great Hall, in particular, we insist on local food. All of our meat comes from Carnbrooke in Dromara and we try to buy fresh, seasonal local vegetables. It's about supporting local as well as reducing air miles. We're committed to carbon management."
Brian revealed that Queen's is to open a new ground floor cafe in the atrium of the redeveloped law library, due for completion this summer.
It will seat up to 100 people and open in time for the new academic year in September.