The village of Kinlough on the Donegal/Leitrim border is preparing for an influx of food tourists following the publication of The Bridgestone Guide 2012. The ‘go to’ guide has placed local Chef Piero Melis as one of the “10 Hot Chefs” in the country while also honouring The Courthouse Restaurant as one of the Best 100 Restaurants in Ireland.
The Bridgestone Guides are authoritative, controversial, reliable and independent and pull no punches - making it in to the Bridgestone Guide is very prestigious.
Chef Piero Melis, proprietor of The Courthouse Restaurant, Kinlough knows the importance of the publicity and is “delighted” with the achievement and the “acknowledgement of his hard work.”
The restaurant has been noted in the guide for almost ten years of it’s 15 year business but the upgrade to one of the best 100 restaurants in Ireland is something he feels will boost business.
“Last year I won Best Chef in Leitrim and this really helped business, the media publicity boosted our numbers.” He now hopes his high inclusion in the Bridgestone Guide will further increase customers to The Courthouse.
The prestigious guide speaks glowingly about Piero and his popular restauraunt saying, “ Piero seems ageless, and vitally youthful- he seems solitary, capable.
“He established The Courthouse, in quaint and quiet Kinlough village, in 1996, when County Leitrim was beginning to assert itself, and for fifteen years he has practised what he learnt from Richard Corrigan when Mr. Melis worked at Bentley’s in London as manager of the oyster bar - make it stylish, keep it simple.
“There is no arrogance about his cooking, which is beautifully logical, and he navigates through the needs of a conservative local audience with aplomb. He understands food in a profound way, he is a servant to his ingredients and has the intuitive touch that characterises someone who reads his ingredients with natural ease and contemplation.
“He is hands-on and hard-working: he will bid you goodnight as you head upstairs to bed after a delicious dinner, and he will be there in the morning to make sure your breakfast is just as perfectly executed as dinner. His food is artfully, transcendently simple, and best matched with the striking wines he imports himself from Sardinia, vivid with ancient tastes
Piero said he relies usually on the local custom of Leitrim, Sligo, Donegal and Fermanagh and his close proximity to the seaside town of Bundoran helps trade.
In the past three years he said he has noticed more loyal customers returning, which he would not have seen in the years previous. But The Courthouse does attract foodies from further afield and Piero has been taking more frequent bookings from people in Dublin and Belfast who also want to stay locally on their trip.
Piero puts down his success to local products of good quality and excellent value.
He said acknowledgment by Bridgestone puts more pressure on him to perform to his best, which means being more creative. As one of the top 10 chefs in the country according to Bridgestone, Piero has become the “one to watch.”