CHEF Ahmet Dede believes that a fusion of good produce, great talent and hard work resulted in two Michelin stars for his Baltimore-based restaurant.
His restaurant, Dede, was one of only three to be presented with a prestigious second star at a ceremony in the UK this week, and the only one in Ireland to get the double delight.
‘I’m just over the moon and so incredibly proud. It’s amazing,’ Ahmet told The Southern Star.
The Turkish native was awarded one Michelin star in the 2019 edition of the guide, when he was head chef at the Mews restaurant, also in Baltimore, an accolade he retained in 2020.
He opened Dede with business partner Maria Archer during the pandemic, in July 2020, and it was awarded its first star in 2021. At the time he made no secret of his ambition to get a second.
‘I’ve waited so long for this,’ he said. ‘I was quietly confident because of all the work we’ve done, but you just never know.’
The Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2023 citation said: ‘Chef Ahmet Dede’s Turkish heritage underpins his beautifully composed and exquisite cuisine. Skilful, judicious spicing hits all the right notes, so never comes close to overpowering the fine local ingredients; purity and balance are never at the expense of flavour.
‘The whole brigade of nine in the kitchen are all from Turkey, and Ahmet’s personality imbues every creative yet authentic dish. The room is always alive with atmosphere and contentment, with service coming from charming co-owner Maria and her delightful team.’
‘Excellent cooking,’ it adds, ‘and worth a detour.’
The restaurant opened for the season a few weeks ago and Ahmet said it’s already busy, but he’s hopeful the new accolade will boost numbers.
For now he’s planning on continuing to create unique Turkish fusion dishes, with some ‘new ideas in the mix’.
‘It’s all about working to make the experience unique for our customers,’ he said, adding that having access to the best local produce was part of his success.
Getting a star can bring the added pressure of being stripped of it, but that’s not a concern for Ahmet.
‘If you try to hold onto something, you’ll lose it. I know there’s more for us to achieve here and I’m looking forward to pushing forward with my brilliant team,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s only new one-star Michelin restaurant was announced as Terre in Castlemartyr Resort, also in Co Cork.
Kinsale’s Bastion and Ballydehob’s Restaurant Chestnut both retained their stars.
Restaurant Chestnut and Dede were also included in The Sunday Times’ annual list of Ireland’s 100 Best Restaurants compiled by John and Sally McKenna, along with Dillons’ Corner in Skibbereen. Cork city’s 51 Cornmarket also made the list.
Interestingly, chef Rob Krawczyk of Restaurant Chestnut, Anne Zagar of 51 Cornmarket and Ruairí Melvin Dunne at Dillon’s Corner, all grew up in the seaside village of Schull.