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  • Ireland’s John Mulcahy Recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award

    Erik Wolf

    The World Food Travel Association is pleased to announce that its 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award for service to the food and beverage tourism industry has been given to John D Mulcahy, PhD, an independent gastronomy tourism activist, advisor and researcher, who is also recognised as the architect of food tourism development in Ireland.

    Originally qualified as a hotel manager in Ireland, John has over four decades of experience in tourism and hospitality. The first two decades of his hospitality career were spent as a hotel manager, a fine-dining restaurateur, a gastropub operator, a catering manager, and head of academic operations at Shannon College of Hotel Management.  After those posts, and until 2017, John utilized his industry experience and knowledge as a senior public servant in Ireland with CERT (Council for Education & Recruitment in Tourism) and Fáilte Ireland (the Irish National Tourism Development Authority) where he led the newly-created Food Tourism, Hospitality Education, and Tourist Accommodation Standards division. His priorities were threefold: first, working from the ground up identifying local activists across the food tourism landscape to create an active and vibrant ‘food champion’ network; second, providing thought leadership for food tourism development; and third, encouraging and funding others to conduct and disseminate similar research.

    A latecomer to academia, John gained master’s degrees in Hospitality Management (Oxford Brookes, 1994), and Gastronomy (Le Cordon Bleu, Adelaide University 2010), as well as the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits (1998).  In 2020, he graduated with a PhD in Food Tourism Development from the School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology at Technological University Dublin – the first in Ireland, if not in Europe. John actively continues to publish research on gastronomy tourism topics.

    John is no stranger to the World Food Travel Association (WFTA). His earliest contribution was as a guest speaker at the 2010 Culinary Tourism Thought Leadership World Summit in Nova Scotia, Canada. He also contributed to the Association’s book, “Have Fork Will Travel: A Practical Handbook for Food & Drink Tourism Professionals” in 2014, and several of the annual State of the Food Travel Industry reports. John worked closely with the WFTA on its important international food tourism research published in 2017 and 2019, and some of which was shared by WFTA Executive Director Erik Wolf at the Fáilte Ireland ‘Food Connect’ conference organized by John in 2016. Since then, John has also spoken for WFTA at the World Travel Market in London (2017) and at WFTA’s FoodTrex events in Thessaloniki, Greece (2018), and Pamplona, Spain (2019).

    When asked about the committee’s choice for the recipient, WFTA Founder and Executive Director Erik Wolf stated that “John is a great asset to the world’s food and beverage tourism industry. An original thinker, a careful researcher, and a true thought leader, I have always looked forward to hearing the wisdom he speaks. His contributions to our industry, especially in Ireland, are legendary. ”


    The Food Tourism Industry Lifetime Achievement Award is a prestigious recognition from the World Food Travel Association, and it is the only such award in the food and beverage tourism industry. The award was first introduced in 2020 to recognize exceptional individuals who have made profound, long-lasting contributions to the food and beverage tourism industry throughout their careers. Individuals are nominated by other industry professionals and the Association’s leadership votes on applications received. Recipients are presented the award in person at the Association’s annual FoodTreX Innovation Summit. Applications for the 2022 Food Tourism Industry Lifetime Achievement Award will open in early 2022.

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