Tuesday 22 October 2019

Two Irish restaurants triumph at inaugural World Restaurant Awards in Paris

The ceremony dubbed the Oscars of the food world took place in Paris

Ballymaloe House
Ballymaloe House
Cafe Paradiso in Cork.
Rachel and Darina Allen with the late Myrtle Allen. Photo: Clare Keogh

Aine Fox and Nina Massey

Two restaurants in Cork have triumphed on the global food stage at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards.

The ceremony, dubbed the Oscars of the food world by co-founder Andrea Petrini, took place in Paris last night.

The county enjoyed double success as vegetarian restaurant Paradiso’s long-standing partnership with Gortnanain farm was recognised for nearly two decades of close collaboration, and Ballymaloe House won "trolley of the year".

Darina Allen (70) dedicated the award to her late mother-in-law Myrtle Allen, who died last year, saying: “I hope she’s looking down tonight.”

She added, joking, that she was a “trolley dolly” as she celebrated her business's win.

She praised Ballymaloe’s pastry chef JR Ryall for bringing “a little bit of magic” to the restaurant’s renowned sweet trolley, which features dishes including Carrageen Moss pudding, made with seaweed from the Irish coast.

Laughing, she added: “JR creates the magic on the trolley and I’m the trolley dolly of the year!”

Ultan Walsh, who runs Gortnanain farm with his wife-to-be Lucy Stewart, has been supplying vegetables to Paradiso for nearly two decades.

Restaurateur Denis Cotter said it was a “huge honour” to win the Collaboration of the Year crown for the relationship between his 40-seat restaurant and Mr Walsh’s nine-acre farm which grows aubergines and artichokes alongside the more conventional potatoes and cauliflowers.

He said: “It’s also an amazing recognition and a very unusual recognition of what we do and what we have been doing behind the scenes for such a long time. It’s very touching.”

Top chefs including Alain Passard, Alex Atala and Clare Smyth were among those who descended on the French capital for a glittering ceremony at the Palais Brongniart.

Lorena Vasquez, master blender of Ron Zacapa rum, partner of the World Restaurant Awards, said: “We are so pleased for the Irish and UK winners here tonight. What a fantastic achievement for them to be recognised on this global stage, as the best in the world.

“This is testament to their passion and pursuit of flavour – a passion we at Zacapa share. Whether it’s food or rum, we’re all focused on letting flavour speak for itself.

“Congratulations and we look forward to toasting their win with them tonight.”

Dan Keeling from London's Noble Rot, which won in the Red Wine-Serving category, said he aimed to make the Bloomsbury venue “a real drinkers’ place, a real wine lovers’ place”, serving old vintages that are ready to drink, at good prices.

His colleague Mark Andrew said: “The idea of the restaurant is to bring not just fantastic service, which is a given at the top end of our industry, but also great food, really interesting wine, exciting wine, and present it to people in a way which really adds to their experience and where they can really get involved.”

South African restaurant Wolfgat, which specialises in local seafood, was named Restaurant of the Year.

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