Belfast Telegraph

My amazing day: Celebrity chef Paula McIntyre on MBE honour and sharing risque joke with Prince William

By Allan Preston

Celebrity chef Paula McIntyre has said she's delighted after receiving her MBE from Prince William yesterday.

Originally from Aghadowey, Paula (51) now lives in Portstewart and received the honour in Buckingham Palace for her services to hospitality.

"It was such a lovely, amazing day," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"There was a few of us from Northern Ireland there and (Oscar-winning actress) Emma Thompson was first up to get her Damehood. We were all ushered into a room and I thought there would be hundreds of us but there was only around 60.

"That meant it was quite intimate and we all got to meet lots of people, so it was lovely."

She added: "Prince William was very nice and took a lot of time with everybody. There was a good bit of chat when it was my turn.

"He floored me as he said: 'I believe you've met my dad a few times'. Which I think had been at an event at Highgrove.

"He asked me all about food in Northern Ireland and I also made him laugh with a joke, but I'll not say what it was as it's probably a bit on the risque side for a future king.

"I will say, though, he certainly does have a good sense of humour."

Paula said receiving the honour for her chosen career was a particularly proud moment.

"I absolutely love what I do, I really feel blessed to have met all the people that I have and to able to represent Northern Ireland across Europe," she said.

"It's a real pleasure, so to get an award for something you love doing couldn't be better could it?"

On top of her success, Paula said she was delighted to hear Northern Ireland was named 'best food destination' this week at the prestigious International Travel and Tourism Awards in London.

The award was presented to Food NI's chief executive Michelle Shirlow.

"She texted me quite late to tell me, she couldn't believe it. To win that really puts Northern Ireland on the map," said Paula.

"Northern Ireland's a small community, so everyone in the food industry knows and supports each other, which is wonderful."

Food NI's Year of Food and Drink 2016 was celebrated for boosting the profile of food and drink here.

After accepting the award Ms Shirlow commented: "I am thrilled to receive this strategically important award which positions Northern Ireland internationally as the leading destination for premium quality and innovative food and drink.

"This international award is a marvellous accolade for our industry and local producers in particular and should be a major benefit for our rapidly developing tourism industry as it seeks to attract even more visitors from across the world and in particular, golf enthusiasts for The Open in Portrush in 2019."

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