2015 Award Winners CHEF OF THE YEAR 2015

Derek Creagh, Harry's Restaurant, Bridgend, Co Donegal

Derek Creagh

Great ingredients have always been the essential foundation for great meals – the celebrated French chef Paul Bocuse called them ‘the building blocks of good cooking’- and our best chefs take full advantage of the fact that Irish producers are supplying world class ingredients in abundance.

Run by brothers Donal & Kevin Doherty, who famously put Inishowen food on the map with their “Local Food From Local People” mantra, Harry’s was the the Bord Bia 'Just Ask' Restaurant of the Year in 2011- and their energy and dedication to promoting the very best local produce has inspired many others to do the same.

The arrival of Derek Creagh to Harry’s in 2014 marked a major milestone for both the chef - who trained in Edinburgh and made his name in some of Britain and Ireland's most famous restaurants (he worked with Heston Blumenthal, among other luminaries) and has now moved back to his roots - and the restaurant, which has gained an exceptionally talented and committed chef, who is clearly very happy to be back on his home patch and overseeing both this restaurant and the newer Harry's Shack at Portstewart.

Working with fresh produce grown by Noel Doherty at the restaurant's fabulous walled garden nearby at Burt is a new challenge for a chef used to placing daily orders, and he is like a kid with a new toy in his delighted excitement at working with whatever is at its best each day.

Derek is one of a new wave of classically trained chefs who have moved away from fine dining to a more informal style of cooking that is underpinned by technical skill yet notable for its immediacy, simplicity and great flavour - and they are cooking some of the best food in Ireland today.

Calm and happy at his work, he is the complete opposite of the stereotypical ambition-crazed chef, and enjoys dropping in to his Mum for a cuppa on his way home from making a few hundred more customers very happy. Which is great all round - and must make the Dohertys very pleased indeed.

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