Edwina Hynes of La Cote restaurant, who won the title of Best Restaurant Manager in Leinster, in the 2019 Irish Restaurant Awards, was more nervous for her husband Paul than she was for herself, as she sat at a gala dinner in a Dublin hotel, waiting for the results to be announced in between courses.
Paul wasn't nominated but he did receive a privileged invitation to prepare the fish course for the awards dinner hosted by the Restaurants Association of Ireland and attended by approximately 1,100 guests drawn from the creme de la creme of the hotel and restaurant industry throughout the country.
Edwina who had been voted County Wexford's Best Restaurant Manager in the regional heats, was accompanied to the dinner by La Cote member of staff Michelle Landon. The pair soaked up the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation at the ceremony while Paul and his team worked away in the kitchen of the Clayton Hotel on Burlington Road.
'It was a big deal - you're cooking for your peers. They're all up there at the top of their game. It was a great expereience for him', said Edwina, who was distracted from over-thinking about her own performance in the competition by wondering how Paul was getting on.
Her husband was assisted by Andrew and Jeffrey Doran and by his brother Noel Hynes, a chef at the Riverbank House Hotel.'I hadn't spoken to him all day. I was nervous for him because he had been planning so much and had done a couple of test runs. He was doing monkfish. Cooking for 1,100 was a big challenge and it was important that it went well. I was rooting for him', said Edwina.
Unsurprisingly, Paul's fish course of monkfish brined in nage and saffron, squid ink bulger, fermented fennel and nori crisp was a resounding success. 'The dish was amazing. I was so proud of him', she said. He also produced a vegetarian option using MeadowField goats cheese from a Wexford supplier.
Meanwhile, at the dinner, it came to the Restaurant of the Year category and when Edwina was named as the winner, she was 'blown away'.
'I was absolutely delighted. I was just over the moon with it because initially it's the public voting for you. Then a mystery diner comes to the restaurant and the final result is based on their report and also the decision of the judging panel.'
Paying tribute to the entire team at La Cote, she said: 'You can't be a good manager without a good team to manage. It was a win for all of us. It's so important for front of house and the kitchen to work together to create the experience for the customer', said Edwina who couldn't go overboard on the celebrations on the awards night because she had a dental appointment the following morning!
La Cote on Custom House Quay in Wexford town which works closely with local food suppliers, has been open for five years and has won numerous awards including one for Best Seafood Restaurant.