Darina Allen paid tribute to Myrtle Allen as Ballymaloe House was announced as one of two Cork winners at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards, held in Paris on Monday night.
The Awards were created to ‘celebrate restaurants as culture, considered in the same way as film, art and music’ and were dubbed the Oscars of the food world by co-founder Andrea Petrini. Cork was home to both Irish winners, while there was one winner from the UK.
Mrs Allen dedicated the Trolley of the Year award to her late mother-in-law Myrtle Allen saying: "I hope she's looking down tonight."
She said the Ballymaloe matriarch, who died last year, ‘inspired us all’.
“The sight of a trolley trundling majestically towards your table is one of the joys of old-fashioned restaurant service,” the judges said. “At Ballymaloe House in Cork, the sweet trolley never really went out of fashion. The original wooden cart was made in the early 1960s by carpenter Danny Power to Myrtle Allen’s specifications: a top shelf with ledge and another underneath for plates and serving utensils.”
The judges and Mrs Allen praised head pastry chef JR Ryall, who has overseen desserts at Ballymaloe for the last decade.
Mrs Allen said he brought "a little bit of magic" to the restaurant's renowned sweet trolley, which features dishes including Carrageen Moss pudding, made with seaweed from the Irish coast.
Laughing, she added: "JR creates the magic on the trolley and I'm the trolley dolly of the year!"
Also flying the flag for Cork was vegetarian restaurant Cafe Paradiso, which took home the Collaboration of the Year Award for its long-standing partnership with Gort na Nain Farm, near Nohoval.
Ultan Walsh, who runs the farm with his wife-to-be Lucy Stewart, has been supplying vegetables to Paradiso for nearly two decades.
Restaurateur Denis Cotter said it was a "huge honour" to win the Collaboration of the Year crown for the relationship between his 40-seat restaurant and Mr Walsh's nine-acre farm, which grows aubergines and artichokes alongside the more conventional potatoes and cauliflowers.
"It's also an amazing recognition and a very unusual recognition of what we do and what we have been doing behind the scenes for such a long time,” Mr Cotter said. “It's very touching."
Top chefs including Alain Passard, Alex Atala and Clare Smyth were among those who descended on the French capital for a glittering ceremony at the Palais Brongniart.
South African restaurant Wolfgat, which specialises in local seafood, was named Restaurant of the Year.