Paradiso and Gortnanain have won the Collaboration of the Year category, which rewards restaurants for their work with their suppliers.
When Ultan Walsh of Gortnanain Farm in Co Cork, Ireland, quit his post-doctoral research post at University College Cork to grow unusual vegetables, the first thing he ever sold was to Paradiso, chef Denis Cotter’s vegetarian restaurant in Cork. Eighteen years later, Paradiso now takes up to a thousand artichokes a season from Gort na Nain.
For Cotter, working with Walsh was a game-changer. “He had an interest in growing things it was assumed you had to import. It changed the way we work. Our approach is now more responsive than recipe-driven.”
There are countless examples of close chef-farmer collaborations but Cotter and Walsh’s is marked out by its longevity and synergy. Cotter describes Walsh (a part-time bouzouki and mandolin-maker) as “brilliant at everything he does”. Cotter, in Walsh’s words, “walks the walk”. “If you go to Paradiso, it’s not an expensive restaurant. It’s very much a Cork restaurant where Cork people go to eat.” For both parties, the collaboration is an ongoing friendship and creative partnership.