Eileen Dunne and Stefano Crescenzi
A special award, given in recognition of the special contribution made by exceptional individuals in Irish hospitality
A true marriage of cultures. That sounds simple, but it’s a complex thing to achieve and it’s what this remarkable couple have contributed to Irish hospitality.
Eileen Dunne & Stefano Crescenzi’s journey from ‘La Vista’, their Sutton deli of the 1990s, to the range of Italian experiences they now offer through Dunne & Crescenzi, L’Officina, Bar Italia and La Corte del Caffe – and, until recently, the charming canalside Nonna Valentina - is an inspiring one. There’s a concise outline on the back flap of their book published last year, Dunne & Crescenzi, The Menu, which I would commend to anyone with an interest in authentic Italian cooking, artisan food sourcing – or, very importantly, the way that the once formal Irish restaurant has developed to become a place to socialise over food. The relaxed and sociable dining style they introduced to Ireland has been a catalyst in changing our attitudes to eating out.
We owe a great debt to Eileen and Stefano for the clarity of their vision and their steadfastness in pursuit of accessible excellence - particularly regarding the sourcing of high quality ingredients. Not only do they import the very finest speciality products from Italy, as would be expected, but some of Ireland’s best producers now also benefit from supplying the group, notably McConnells of Dublin (smoked fish); the game and organic meat butchers, Downey’s of Terenure; the Kerry Lamb Group; Gold River Farm in Co Wicklow (organic vegetables) and G’s Gourmet Jams (jams and honey from Laois).
Eileen and Stefano’s business has also grown organically, and how exciting it is for their staff and customers – who are emphatically a part of the mix – to experience the best of Irish and the best of Italian foods coming together in a uniquely successful expression of shared culture. We are grateful to them and will watch with interest to see what they may come up with next!