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Simon lands £6m ‘Royal Castle’ contract to create 35 jobs for Co Armagh-based Yellow Door

Simon and business partner Barry to provide dedicated on-site catering at Hillsborough Castle

yellow door contract
Simon Dougan, Yellow Door (left) and business partner, Barry Smyth (right) show off some of the delicious food that will be served in the new Hillsborough Castle Café and Stable Yard Tea Room. Looking on approvingly is Historic Royal Palaces Retail Director, Gina George. Copyright credit: Brian Morrison/Historic Royal Palaces.

County Armagh-based Yellow Door’s Simon Dougan has secured his latest venture – providing dedicated on-site catering at Hillsborough Castle.

And 35 jobs will be created with new catering propositions on the estate, as part of the major project to open the Castle up to the public by Easter 2019.

The prestigious contract for the The Yellow Door is worth in the region of £6 million to the company, which continues to expand its reach in this competitive market sector.

Work at the Castle is in the final stages of a five-year £20million investment by Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Castle, to re-open the doors of Hillsborough castle and grounds to the public on 10 April 2019.

Simon and his business partner, Barry Smyth, beat off stiff competition to win the five-year contract, which will see The Yellow Door providing all catering services at the newly built Hillsborough Castle Café and the Stable Yard Tea Room.

With its emphasis on quality, local, fresh, seasonal produce, and environmental goals such as recycling, on-site composting and working towards zero waste to landfill, the tender submitted by the dream team of Simon, NI’s leading outside caterer, and Barry, a Michelin-starred chef,  proved a worthy winner.

“In keeping with the historic nature of Hillsborough Castle we also aim to use varieties of heirloom vegetables such as purple carrots, and some of the more uncommon herbs like lovage and blue hyssop, as well as Chilean guavas, which were reported to be Queen Victoria’s favourite fruit,” explained Simon.

The Yellow Door already grows a lot of these vegetables and herbs, but Simon and Barry are thrilled to be able to liaise with Hillsborough Castle’s Head Gardener at the reinstated four-acre walled garden on the choice of seasonal produce to be grown specifically for use in the new kitchens.

“You just can’t get any fresher than that,” said Barry.

Gina George, Retail Director at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “We are pleased to have awarded The Yellow Door the contract for our new catering outlets at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. Following a five-year cross site £20million investment by Historic Royal Palaces, our new café and tea-room will open to the public when the Castle re-opens on the 10 April 2019.

“The Yellow Door perfectly matched our brief to ensure there is a strong emphasis on quality local and seasonal produce with a menu that will be inspired by the history of the estate. We look forward to working with them in this new chapter for the Castle.”

With The Yellow Door’s fame in fine dining, the new tea room is a perfect fit for Simon’s talented patisserie team, and in homage to the 18th Century Pineapple Houses and original Hot House walls that were discovered during the estate’s renovation work, Simon is going to create a Pineapple Signature Cake.

“We’re also going to be working with local supplier Suki Tea to create a unique Hillsborough Tea to complement the cake,” added Simon.

Already one of the official caterers at Hillsborough Castle, where he has cooked for numerous VIP guests, Simon Dougan is equally passionate about his latest venture.

“We have catered for many VIP guests during their visits at Hillsborough, as well as weddings and high-end corporate events. Adding the new public café and tea room to our offering is the icing on the cake,” he explained.

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