One of Northern Ireland’s best-known restaurateurs had a “passionate commitment to the hospitality industry,” mourners at this funeral service heard on Monday.
Derek Patterson, co-owner of the Hillsborough-based Plough Group of restaurants and a highly respected chef, passed away suddenly near his home last Tuesday.
The 53-year-old father of four’s hospitality businesses included The Plough, Hillsborough, The Pheasant in Annahilt and The Tannery near Moira.
He was also a founder of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival.
Among the mourners at the service, which was led by Rev Dr Allen Sleith, were a number of renowned chefs and restaurant owners including Michael Deane and Danny Millar.
Rev Sleith of Hillsborough Presbyterian Church said Mr Patterson (pictured) had a lifelong “work hard – play hard” attitude with many passions that included family, animals of all kinds and sharing his extensive knowledge with apprentice chefs.
“While he played hard and enjoyed life to the full, there was no mistaking his passionate commitment to the hospitality industry that he served so well,” Rev Sleith said.
Many heartfelt tributes were paid to Mr Patterson in the hours and days following his tragic passing, with one friend describing him as “a man ahead of his time” and “a huge loss to the industry.”
A statement issued by Hospitality Ulster said: “Derek was not only known and loved by the members of the public who visited his bars and restaurants but he was a favourite of a number of Northern Ireland’s Secretaries of State when they lived in Hillsborough Castle and he’d have catered for them all at some stage.
“He was full of energy and very forward thinking and he was instrumental in bringing about the idea of the destination pub and restaurant in Northern Ireland – and now everyone has followed his lead.
“Our sympathies go to his loved ones. He will be sorely missed by so many.”
At yesterday’s service, Rev Sleith paid tribute to Mr Patterson’s impressive drive and track record in the hospitality sector.
“Combine that passion, with a strong work ethic, an eye to detail, an imaginative flair, hard won experience from working overseas, and a larger-than-life personality, and you have a winning formula for a sector that expects high standards – one in which you can’t afford to coast and can never rest on your laurels,” Rev Sleith said.
“But those skills were shared around, not just for his customers, but for numerous apprentice chefs, whom Derek took under his wing in a mentoring role, often encouraging them to travel the world and then bring what they’d learnt back home to NI. He excelled in that mentoring role, and was also fond of cooking demos, always finding ways to make them entertaining.”
Rev Sleith added: “Derek’s hospitality and conviviality lived out something of that fullness and freedom in work, at home and at play.
“He was full of banter, a raconteur, whose story telling was legendary. Derek was the co-founder of the famous Hillsborough Oyster Festival, and his passion was its driving force for over two decades, and yet, behind the scenes, he was passionate in other quieter ways, a generous contributor to worthy charities.”
Mr Patterson is survived by his wife Pamela and children Max, Natasha, Toby and Amelia.