On the eagerly awaited evening of May 31, 2022, a jubilant celebration of Ireland’s hospitality industry unfolded at the Limerick Strand Hotel during the YesChef Awards. Colleagues and friends from all corners of the island gathered to support one another on this emotionally charged night, where the finest talents in Ireland’s culinary world were unveiled.
The event, which was a complete sell-out, saw the presentation of over 140 awards, encompassing every facet of the industry. Exciting additions to the awards roster included distinctions such as Steakhouse of the Year, Wine Bar of the Year, and Outdoor Dining Space of the Year.
Shane Smith, Managing Director of NI Media, encapsulated the atmosphere of the evening, saying, “We’ve waited a long time for this night, and it’s wonderful to witness an industry that was severely impacted bounce back so swiftly. The people in the hospitality industry have demonstrated their innovation, resilience, and creativity, and their unwavering passion for their craft truly shone through tonight.”
The culinary journey at this year’s Awards Dinner was crafted by a talented lineup of chefs, including past YesChef Award winners. The students of Coláiste ĺde, Finglas, under the guidance of Chef Mentor Derek Flynn, crafted the appetizer and fish course. The main course, an exquisite creation, was prepared by Chris McMenamin (YesChef Chef of the Year 2020) and our team, alongside other talented chefs from Donegal. Chloe Duggan (YesChef Young Chef of the Year, Munster 2020) from Adare Manor crafted the delectable dessert.
Shane expressed gratitude to the student chefs and their mentor for their fantastic dishes, as well as to Chris McMenamin, Chloe Duggan, Jack Duffy – YesChef, and Paddy Anslow, Executive Chef from the Limerick Strand, for their invaluable support.
The pinnacle of the evening came when Megan Slevin (Co-Owner), Melissa Slevin (sister-in-law), and Chefs Chris McMenamin & Colin McKee proudly accepted the award for ‘Best Traditional Gastropub in Ulster.’ However, the excitement didn’t stop there, as it was announced that Biddy’s O’Barnes was also crowned ‘Best Traditional Gastropub in Ireland,’ an extraordinary achievement.
Megan expressed her gratitude, saying, “What an honor it is to receive this award on behalf of our hardworking staff and my husband Aaron Slevin, who couldn’t be with us on the night. We have worked tirelessly on renovations and assembling a team to transform our 150-year-old pub into a premier destination for food. We must acknowledge our wonderfully talented Head Chefs Colin & Chris, who have been with us every step of the way to make Biddy’s the next big pub grub destination. We are proud of what we’ve achieved so far and are already exploring ways to further enhance our food and service for the loyal customers who have supported us throughout this transformation.”
Biddy’s O’Barnes Executive Head Chef Team, Chris McMenamin and Colin McKee had the honor of preparing the main course for over 450 attendees—a challenge met with impeccable execution, thanks to the collaboration of chefs from all over Ireland. The camaraderie of the Donegal Hospitality community was palpable throughout the evening, underscoring the genuine excitement for every winner from the region.
As the night concluded, Biddy’s O’Barnes emerged not only as a star of the evening but as a beacon of innovation and excellence in the Irish hospitality scene. Their journey of transformation and dedication to culinary artistry has indeed left an indelible mark on the culinary world, and the future shines even brighter for this iconic establishment.
We’d love to highlight and shout out all the Winners in Donegal
Seafood Restaurant of The Year 2022, Ulster / Quay West, Donegal Town
Indian Restaurant of The Year 2022, Ulster / Chandpur, Donegal Town
Traditional Gastro Pub of The Year 2022, Ulster & Ireland / Biddy’s O’Barnes, Barnesmore
Local Restaurant of The Year 2022, Ulster & Ireland / Blas@thegateway, Donegal Town
Hotel Restaurant of The Year 2022 Ulster / The Market House Restaurant at The Abbey Hotel, Donegal Town
Italian Restaurant of The Year, Ulster / The Railway Tavern, Fahan
Café of The Year, Ulster / Kitty Joe’s Café, Mountcharles
Front of House Team of The Year, Ulster / The Rusty Mackerel, Teelin
Street Food of The Year, Ulster / Johnny’s Ranch, Ramelton