The award for Best Menu at the 32nd Catey Awards, the hospitality industry’s answer to the Oscars, went to OX Belfast, and co-owner Alain Kerloc’h collected the prestigious trophy on 7th July at a spectacular awards ceremony at Grosvenor House in London.
“Winning Best Menu at the Cateys is fantastic,” says chef and co-owner Stephen Toman, “as everything at OX begins with the menu. Since opening in April 2013, taking a risk on a new kind of dining for Belfast has really paid off for us, and this kind of recognition for our menu, from our peers and colleagues in the industry, is really rewarding. The best part of an award like this is the opportunity it gives us to showcase our wonderful Northern Ireland ingredients, producers and suppliers.”
“Winning an award like this is always a recognition of the work of the whole team at OX,” says Alain Kerloc’h, manager and co-owner of OX, “and it was a real honour to accept the award for Best Menu at the Cateys and be in such amazing company.”
OX Belfast truly were in excellent company on the night as among the other award winners were legendary chefs Daniel Boulud, who won the International Outstanding Achievement Award, and Nico Ladenis who won the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Recognising the industry’s highest flyers, strongest performers and latest emerging brands, as determined by those best placed to decide – the industry itself – with 21 categories covering all facets of the business, the Cateys awards night is the culmination of months of judging and preparation. More than 140 judges (chosen on account of their expertise, industry knowledge, and past successes as Cateys winners themselves) met over three days of lively debate to arrive at the shortlist and choose the winners, and the Cateys were awarded at a ceremony presented by actor John Hannah, where the evening’s menu was designed by leading chef Mark Sargeant.
Judges described the menu at OX in glowing terms, with Giovanna Grossi of AA Hotel Services calling it “imaginative, inspired, seasonal and intelligent”. She continued “The price point is sensible and the dishes would certainly encourage anyone to go to Belfast.” Clare Smyth MBE, Northern Ireland’s only 3-star Michelin chef and chef-patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay said the OX menu is “Very exciting!” going on to say “It’s fantastic to see a restaurant in Northern Ireland of this calibre. This is a young chef pushing the boundaries and using the wealth of produce the region has offer.”
Organised by The Caterer magazine, the UK hospitality industry’s leading source of information for over 135 years, since their inception in 1984 the Cateys have become a byword for quality, class and achievement, the awards that everybody wants to win.
Best Menu award-winner OX always has a fascinating menu, showcasing excellent meats and sustainably sourced fish but with equally careful attention given to seasonal vegetables and fruit. Chef Stephen Toman’s uniquely enthusiastic approach to seasonal produce and his close relationships with local suppliers means vegetables at OX are no longer considered just a side or a garnish, but as equal partners and occasional stars of the show.
Co-owners Stephen and Alain each have a background in formal dining, with complex and sophisticated menus and high levels of service. With OX (and their gorgeous, honey-toned wine bar right next door in OX Cave), their aim is to provide the same quality of food and attentive service, along with a focus on dining with seasonal creativity, but in a relaxed, simple and welcoming environment.
OX is enterprising, ambitious and inventive, and is now the winner of Best Menu at the Cateys!