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Yellow door chef Simon receives MBE

Thursday, 5 January 2017

KILLYLEA man and Yellow Door chef Simon Dougan had always joked over the years, with tongue firmly in cheek, that all the hard work in the kitchen would be worth it in the end, as it would be all for a MBE.

Little did Simon know that 2016 would bring such a recognition, after he was awarded a MBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours list, in the same year that he welcomed HRH Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to his Yellow Door restaurant in Portadown.

"I was shocked but delighted," Simon told the Ulster Gazette. "It's not just an honour for me but for the whole team... We've had so many people sending messages. It's been lovely."

Having received notification via a letter that was sent to him in November, the chef said he "just sat stunned, in silence" then passed the letter on to his wife, Jilly.

Now that the news is public, Simon said it was terrific to receive such an accolade in Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink. "It's fantastic to be part of that," he continued, "as well as being part of the Food Heartland Forum.

"It's great to see that the work of a chef, or someone from food and hospitality industry, has value, that it's recognised."

Another highlight, of course, was welcoming Charles and Camilla to the Yellow Door, where the royals got sample some of County Armagh's produce, including cider. "It must be remembered that Prince Charles is not only a royal, but also a food producer himself, with his Duchey brand. He joked that it was good to keep up with the competition."

Looking forward to what 2017 will bring, Simon revealed that he keen to see local food products receive wider attention. "People don't realise that we have some products that aren't known all over Ireland. Fifteens, caramel squares... traybakes that aren't known in the south.

"We now have those products sold in Dublin Airport and outlets like Brown Thomas and the Merrion. We want to continue with that," he said.

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