A café in Ballycastle was among the winners at the recent World Bread Awards in London.
Thyme & Co, owned by husband and wife team Tom and Eimear Mullin, triumphed in the Irish Wheaten Loaf category, beating off competition from bakers across Ireland and the UK.
Its ‘Ballycastle wheaten’ wowed an extensive repertoire of judges, including awards host and Dickenson & Morris Master Baker Stephen Hallam.
Speaking following her return from the awards ceremony, which was held in St John’s Church, Hyde Park, Eimear said: “It was a great achievement to even be there, sitting alongside such big names like the head chef from the Dorchester Hotel. That made me realise just how high level it was. I couldn’t believe it when we were named as the winner, I was over the moon.”
Thyme & Co’s wheaten bread is based on a recipe given to Eimear over 10 years ago by Ballycastle woman Roberta McBride. Since then, it has been refined by bakers in the café to create today’s winning product.
And it has certainly been a worthwhile process, with the judges saying ‘they were impressed by the look of the bread, it had a good crust, and they would find it difficult to suggest any improvements’.
It could also be argued that an impressive wheaten is in the genes. Eimear’s uncle used to own the popular Ashfield Bakery in Omagh, which had a widespread reputation for its wheaten bread. And in another interesting coincidence, Tom’s uncle worked in the bakery as well.
Eimear said: “We always knew it was good bread. We would have people calling in specifically to get it. It’s a hidden gem and we are delighted to see it recognised like this. And the connection with my uncle and his wheaten bread makes it special as well.”
Thyme & Co is a member of Causeway Coast and Glens Food Network, which aims to showcase and support local producers across the region.
Offering her congratulations, the Mayor, Councillor Joan Baird OBE, said: “I was delighted to visit Tom and Eimear recently, where I was able to say ‘well done’ to them in person. They are fantastic ambassadors for our area, and it is inspiring to know that a product made here in Ballycastle has been recognised as one of the very best.”
Thyme & Co’s victory also means they have secured a little piece of history, as it’s the first time the World Bread Awards featured an Irish Wheaten Loaf category.