Shock at death of restaurateur Derek Patterson who put Hillsborough on the map
Tributes have been paid to one of Northern Ireland's best known chefs and entrepreneurs Derek Patterson following his death.
The body of Mr Patterson, who headed up The Plough Inn in Hillsborough, Co Down, was found near his home at St John's Road in the village yesterday.
The PSNI said last night that a post-mortem examination is due to be carried out to establish the cause of death, but it is not being treated as suspicious.
Mr Patterson (53) was best known as the chef and part-owner of the Plough Group of restaurants, which also includes the Vintage Rooms in Hillsborough, the Pheasant in Annahilt and the Tannery in Moira.
Mr Patterson ran the family firm, which had been founded by his parents, alongside his brothers William and Richard.
He lived in Hillsborough with his wife Pamela and their four children.
As a leading figure in the local hospitality industry, he also established the village's Oyster Festival in 1992.
Bill Wolsey, managing director of the Beannchor Group, which includes the neighbouring Hillside Bar in Hillsborough, said Mr Patterson's death would have a deep impact on the industry.
"Derek was a very hard-working publican who made a huge impact in the village," Mr Wolsey said.
"This is a great loss for our industry and our sympathies go to his family at this heartbreaking time."
Down Royal racetrack stalwart Mike Todd also paid tribute to his friend.
"Derek was a great supporter of ours down the years as well as a super chef and a super person," he said.
"As a man of great foresight, he really revitalised Hillsborough and put it on the map with the Oyster Festival.
"He will be hugely missed by so many people."
Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, added to the tributes.
He said: "Derek was the ultimate entrepreneur and someone who was always very much ahead of his time, particularly starting up the Oyster Festival at a time when no one was doing food festivals.
"He was always a man on a mission and seemed to thrive on carving out a really good business through hard work.
"This is awfully sad news and the thoughts and prayers of everyone in the entire hospitality sector are with his family at this difficult time.
"Derek was a well-known and liked member of the hospitality industry and will be sadly missed by all."
Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Mr Patterson had been an ambassador for the village and beyond.
"This is devastating news for Derek's family, and indeed the wider community in Hillsborough," he said.
"Derek was a well-known and greatly loved figure in the area as well as a very successful businessman who for many years brought investment into the village. He always gave as much back to the community as he received from it through his business and he will be greatly missed." Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne said Mr Patterson's legacy will be felt for years to come as one of the architects of Northern Ireland's success as a foodie destination.
"Derek was as significant a player in the restaurant business as the original top Michelin star holders of 25 years ago including Paul Rankin, Michael Deane and Robbie Millar," he added.
"He was forward-thinking and Hillsborough has much to thank him for in terms of his contribution to food and hospitality. He was one of the first restaurateurs to make people appreciate food and eating as an event."