Derek Patterson: Heartfelt tributes paid to respected NI business owner and chef
Tributes have been paid to well known Northern Ireland businessman and chef Derek Patterson, who passed away suddenly at his home in Co Down on Tuesday.
Mr Patterson, 53, was co-owner of the Hillsborough-based Plough Group of restaurants and a well respected chef. He was also a founder of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival.
His hospitality businesses included The Plough, Hillsborough and The Tannery near Moira.
A message posted on The Plough Inn Facebook page on Tuesday night said: "It is with great sadness that we confirm the sudden passing of Derek Patterson.
"Whilst the Patterson family appreciates your kind thoughts and condolences, they would be grateful for some privacy at this difficult time."
Local UUP councillor Jenny Palmer described Mr Pattersons's death as "heartbreaking", while businessman Naldo Morelli from Morelli's Ice Cream said: “Awful sad news about Derek Patterson from The Plough in Hillsborough. Always ahead of the game & seemed to be very passionate about food & his business.”
Councillor John Palmer said Mr Patterson had been a close personal friend for many years.
"I am just shocked," he said. "It is so sad. Derek was such a nice guy and his passing is a terrible loss. He will be missed by everyone who knew him."
Many people took to The Plough Inn Facebook page to express their shock and sadness at Mr Patterson's passing, and to post heartfelt tributes.
One wrote: "A man ahead of his time. A huge loss to the industry. Thoughts with the family", while another described him as "a nice guy with a genuine heart."
Another friend wrote: "Was an honour and privilege to call him a friend. Will be sadly missed by the tourism industry. Thoughts and prayers with the family."
Paying tribute to Mr Patterson, Hospitality Ulster said he was a forward thinker who was full of energy.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of Derek’s death. He was a key member of our industry and was known far and wide," a statement on the organisation's Facebook page 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.”