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Cateys 2018: Restaurateur of the Year – Independent – Richard Corrigan

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Cateys 2018: Restaurateur of the Year – Independent – Richard Corrigan

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Richard Corrigan – or Mr Hospitality, as he was described by one of our judges – has worked his way up the ladder over the past 38 years, and boy, has the journey been a great one. His first Michelin star came at Fulham Road in 1994 and the second at Lindsay House in 1997, which he retained for more than 10 years.

Corrigan took over Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill in London – where his career had begun some 20 years before – in 2005. Corrigan’s Mayfair followed in 2008 and it won the Evening Standard’s Restaurant of the Year award along with three AA rosettes in the first three months. The next year Corrigan’s was named AA Restaurant of the Year.

This year Corrigan’s celebrates its 10th anniversary and continues to adapt to offer new and exciting things for customers. In 2017, the restaurant underwent a redesign, with the addition of Dickie’s Bar, which was opened in collaboration with New York’s Dead Rabbit mixologist Gregory Buda.

In 2013, Corrigan bought Virginia Park Lodge in Co Cavan, Ireland, where he champions self-sufficiency and sustainability. The estate has an ethos of responsible consumption, repurposing and recycling, and 90% of waste including glass is recycled on-site.

Corrigan’s success hinges on great ingredients and warm, unpretentious service. The business itself is a family affair, with Corrigan’s son Richie at the helm of Corrigan’s until last month, while his sister Deirdre runs the weddings at Virginia Park Lodge.

His style of cooking is in the same vein – unpretentious and timeless, but constantly moving with the times. At Corrigan’s, teaming up with Buda allowed for an innovative space for cocktails to shine alongside the restaurant. Guests are also invited to partake in monthly cocktail classes as part of Dickie’s Cocktail Club, and the bar sells its own branded homemade sodas as well as bar snacks.

The purchase of Virginia Park Lodge has allowed Corrigan to move his empire a step closer toward a sustainable future, supplying vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices to his restaurants. Corrigan is also working towards the reintroduction of animals into the estate, while last year he added 12 bespoke Blackdown shepherd huts to the 110 acres. The farm-to-fork ethos of his operation is something the judges picked up on, praising the chef as “someone to aspire to”.

Outside of the restaurant, he has cooked for the Queen and at the White House, and been a mainstay of BBC’s Great British Menu. He is an ambassador for the Slow Food movement and the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance in the UK, which he used his own money to kickstart.

Corrigan was described by the judges as “inspirational” and “passionate”, “a force of nature”, who “embodies hospitality”. They are sentiments that resonate with the rest of the industry for a chef whose hard work underpins his longevity and who has become one of hospitality’s national treasures.

What the judges said

“Simply a legend. Hospitality runs through his veins. Richard understands the A-Z of customers’ needs, always aiming to exceed expectation. He’s a torchbearer for farm to fork.”
Chris Galvin

“Richard is a tour de force. He exemplifies great, warm hospitality and understands food and wine perfectly. He also runs great restaurants and is an inspirational leader and contributor to the industry. An outstanding winner.”
Alastair Storey


The shortlist

Richard Corrigan Corrigan Collection

Michael Deane Deanes, Belfast

Josh Eggleton The Pony & Trap, Bristol

Andrew Pern The Star Inn, Harome, Yorkshire

The judges

Peter Backman Managing director, Horizons

Elizabeth Carter Editor, The Good Food Guide

Chris Galvin Chef-patron, Galvin Restaurants

Sam Hart Owner, Hart Bros Restaurants

Alistair Sandall Head of professional development, Institute of Hospitality

Will Smith Chef-patron, Sugar Boat

Alastair Storey Chairman and chief executive, WSH

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