Chef Ahmet Dede has dedicated the Michelin star his Baltimore restaurant was awarded this week to his parents who are recovering from Covid.
Currently in his native Turkey caring for his mum and dad, Ahmet said the accolade was still sinking in and it meant the world to him.
This is the second Michelin he’s brought to West Cork, having being awarded a star while he was head chef at Baltimore’s now-closed Mews. A incognito judge visited the restaurant in December, before the current lockdown, and was particularly taken with their lobster kebab, according to Ahmet.
That has now become a signature dish for the coastal restaurant.
In other good news for the region, Ballydehob’s Restaurant Chestnut, run by Rob Krawczyk, kept its star for the third year, while Bastion in Kinsale, run by Paul McDonald, also retained their star.
Ahmet and business partner Maria Archer were set to open Dede in the Customs House, Baltimore, when the pandemic hit last March. They ran a very popular takeout during lockdown and plan on doing the same from March 16th.
Speaking from his home in Turkey, he said: ‘This star is for my parents. My dad spent two weeks in ICU with Covid and hardly made it out. My mum was sick too and we lost her brother and sister, my aunt and uncle, to the virus in the same week.’
He also credited his mum with teaching him everything he knows about food: ‘She’s a housewife who has had to feed four hungry males every day so I’ve learned a lot from her!’
He said his ambition was always to get a star in his first year in business, and to realise that was ‘amazing.’
Maria said the news had given the entire area a great lift. ‘A Michelin is every chef’s ambition, it’s the gold standard in the industry, but it wasn’t our focus right now given the year that was in it and we’re really honoured.’
Dede’s style is far more casual than what’s typically associated with Michelin restaurants in terms of its menu and customer experience.
Maria, whose partner Shane Menton is also involved in the business, explained how when they were finally able to host diners when restrictions lifted during the summer, the last thing they wanted was to add to people’s stress levels, and opted for a relaxed vibe.
Dede is the only newcomer to the 18 Irish restaurants included in the 2021 Michelin guide for Ireland and the UK.
In Cork city, Japanese restaurant Ichigo Ichie kept its star, while Goldie was given a Bib Gourmand which recognises good food at affordable prices.