‘This is massive': Stars shine spotlight on West Cork food

October 8th, 2018 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

Chef Ahmet Dede with Robert Collender and James Ellis celebrating a Michelin star for their Mews restaurant in Baltimore. (Photo: Anne Minihan)

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WEST Cork’s food tourism is set for a massive boost after restaurants in Ballydehob and Baltimore were awarded coveted Michelin stars this week. 

Bookings are pouring in to secure one of the six tables in Ballydehob’s Restaurant Chestnut run by owner and chef Robbie Krawczyk, and it’s a similar story at Baltimore’s Mews, which has 10 tables and is owned by Robert Collender and James Ellis.

They were both highly regarded in West Cork and further afield, but calls and emails are now coming from overseas as the wins have reached a global audience. 

Michelin stars have created ‘food destinations’ where they have been awarded, and food tourism has become a huge part of the overall industry.

And in more good news, Dillon’s in Timoleague, run by Richard Milnes and partner Valeria Ventura, received its first Bib Gourmand from Michelin this week.

The couple has already had bookings from the UK as a result, while Kinsale’s  Bastion held on to its Bib for the fourth year in a row.  Coincidentally, Paul and Helen McDonald of Bastion previously ran Mews.

Along with Cork city’s Japanese eaterie Ichigo Ichie, Chestnut and Mews are among only 14 Irish restaurants given a star in the 2019 Michelin Guide for Great Britain & Ireland. 

Fiona Field of A Taste of West Cork Food Festival said the stars would, without doubt, put the area on the global map for tourism. ‘This is massive for West Cork,’ she said. Kevin Cullinane at Cork Airport agreed: ‘The delicious culinary offerings of West Cork have always been a major draw for European and American visitors. Having two exceptional restaurants will certainly drive even more overseas visitors to West Cork.’

A spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland said: ‘This news will significantly add to Cork’s strong reputation as a gourmet destination and enhance the food experience for visitors who visit Cork.’

Robbie and Robert both accepted their awards on behalf of local producers. Robbie told The Southern Star that they are spoiled with the fantastic produce of West Cork, which makes his job so much easier. 

Robert Collender of Mews attributed their success to their incredible suppliers. Japanese chef Takashi Miyazaki also said he got much of the produce for his Cork city restaurant from this area. Speaking from London, where he had been delayed after the closure of Irish airspace on Tuesday night, Robbie, who runs Chestnut with girlfriend Elaine Fleming, said: ‘The food and produce we get to use is so fantastic and makes our lives so much easier – all we’re doing really is representing that.’

The self-taught chef who grew up in Schull added: ‘If you get bad produce you have to work so hard to make it taste ok, and it will only ever be that. But half our work is done for us which means we can focus on showcasing it.’

• See page 5 for more. 

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