The year has started in style for Portadown chef and deli owner Simon Dougan who has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List.
Simon received the award for services to hospitality and catering in Northern Ireland.
The award is the latest in a line of royal honours for the 45-year-old. Last year, he hosted HRH the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at his Yellow Door Deli in Woodhouse Street. He was also appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Armagh - a Royal appointment made by the Earl of Caledon.
Simon said the awards letter had sat in the house for three days before he opened it and when he did, he was “speechless” and handed it over to his wife Jilly.
The Bleary man has been running the deli in Portadown’s Woodhouse Street for 20 years, and in that time has expanded the business by opening other delis and starting a now very successful outside catering business.
Simon, who comes from a large family of five sisters and four brothers, also has the support of various family members in the growing business. Andrew, his cousin, opened the delis in Belfast and Lisburn and runs the catering at the Ulster Museum and for Ulster Rugby.
Gary, Andrew’s brother, runs the wholesale side of the business supplying restaurants all over Ireland with daily deliveries of fresh bread and patisserie while Jilly manages the Yellow Door kitchen garden and other growing projects at their outlets.
Said Simon, “Food for me is not a job, it’s a way of life. It’s a very exciting time to be a chef in Northern Ireland. The raw produce here is world-class.
“We supply a lot of goods into Dublin, including wheaten bread, fifteens and caramel squares, which don’t exist in the south of Ireland.”
Simon has been closely involved in Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink and having catered for the launch is set to bring the year to a close with an event at Ulster Museum next Wednesday.