Exciting new era for Lough Erne Resort with Stephen Holland

Wednesday, January 04, 2023. 1:48pm
Exciting new era for Lough Erne Resort as Stephen Holland takes up culinary reins from Noel McMeel
Stephen Holland and Noel McMeel

Exciting new era for Lough Erne Resort as Stephen Holland takes up culinary reins from Noel McMeel

The new head of Lough Erne Resort’s award-winning culinary team has promised to continue and develop the legacy of highly respected Culinary Director, Noel McMeel who has formally announced his intention to step down after 15 years at the luxury Resort.

Executive Head Chef, Stephen Holland who has been an integral part of the exceptional culinary team at Lough Erne Resort for more than 12 years, says 2023 will herald an exciting new era as he formally takes up the reins. “We are so fortunate to have built an incredibly talented team of chefs at Lough Erne Resort over the last 12 years or so, under Noel’s leadership. We plan to harness that talent and continue our successful philosophy of sourcing, preparing, and serving fresh food in season as we embark into 2023.

“One of the most amazing elements of working as a chef at Lough Erne Resort is the access we have to wonderful local suppliers who are amongst the very best in the world. As a team of chefs it’s a privilege to support them – both for the good of our local economy but also because they enable us to create mouth-watering dishes that have consistently been amongst the best within these islands.

“Food is linked to many of life’s greatest moments. It is often how we celebrate and the focus of social gatherings where lasting memories are made. A plate of food can evoke feelings of nostalgia and happiness as it takes us back to a place or time in our lives. It can elicit a sense of joy and happiness. As a team we realise the huge responsibility that places on our shoulders, but continually raising the bar is what motivates us a professionals and we’re really looking forward to building on Noel’s great work.”

Stephen Holland started his impressive culinary journey as ambitious 13-year-old who secured his first paid job as a porter in a local hotel in Dungannon. As he explains it was there, that he got taste for life as a chef.

“I have very fond memories of my time there and the learning was second to none. In fact, I still use and practice many of the skills I learnt there today. Whilst studying at college I also worked at the luxurious Castle Leslie Estate under the leadership of Noel McMeel which is where I first met someone who has become a massive figure within the Irish food scene.”

Following his studies Stephen spent some time in an events’ company before setting off to travel the world where he cooked in some of the best establishments in USA, Australia, Dubai, and New Zealand.

“These were crucial years for me as I was able to experience diverse cultures and benefit from learning under some of the most creative and talented chefs in the world. As I look back, this period really shaped my life and prepared me for my current role as Executive Head Chef in one of Ireland’s top food destinations. To this day I find my travels provide great inspiration for my dishes.”

During his 12-plus years at Lough Erne Resort Stephen has cooked for world leaders including US President, Barak Obama and British Prime Minister, David Cameron – but he counts meeting his wife, Rachael – a colleague at the Resort – as amongst his greatest achievements.

Meanwhile, Noel McMeel, who advised senior executives at the Resort some time ago that he wished to explore other professional opportunities and begin a new chapter in his life, says he has no doubt the Resort’s treasured culinary offering is in safe hands.

“My vision has always been about enabling our team to be the very best they can be, so our guests enjoy a unique gastronomic experience characterised by creativity, theatre, colour, texture and taste. I genuinely believe Stephen is someone who is not only well educated and highly experienced, but highly skilled, well respected in the culinary world, a trusted mentor and an inspirational leader for his team of chefs. I look forward to seeing this team continue to support local suppliers, push the boundaries, and ensure the Resort’s guests enjoy the most amazing food experience across The Blaney Bar, The Loughside Bar and Grill and, of course The Catalina.” 

Noel McMeel concluded: “I’m not sure what it is yet, but I know the time is right to embark on the next chapter of my life. Lough Erne Resort has been my home for nearly 15 years: it’s been an incredibly important part of my life. I came here to film the second year of The Great British Menu and fell in love with the place. I just knew in my heart I wanted to work there. There’s something truly magical about it. I’ve been so blessed to work with so many great people, whom I count as friends – they have been like family to me. I am forever indebted to Lough Erne Resort for its belief in me and the encouragement I received to be the best I could be, nurturing me as I became the chef I am today.

“This nourishing approach is instilled in every member of the culinary team at Lough Erne Resort, and Stephen Holland is the pure embodiment of exceptional leadership and skill. I am honoured to pass on the ‘whites’ a trusted friend and colleague who has over the years has become an exceptional leader. I have no doubt the dining experience here will go from strength to strength under his guidance. I will watch with pride and of course, I will never be a stranger to my Fermanagh Lakeland home.”

Mark Ward and Jeff Mahan from US-based TRU Hotels and Resorts, LLC which has ultimate responsibility for operating the Resort, paid tribute to Noel McMeel.

“We have been privileged to work with Noel since 2015 when The Resort was acquired by Lough Shore Road Limited, in a joint venture of U.S. based Advantage Capital Holdings, Inc. and TRU Hotels and Resorts, LLC. He has been an inspirational leader who has helped fulfil our vision of positioning Lough Erne Resort to the fore in relation to our culinary offering. He leaves a lasting legacy that we are certain Stephen and his team will build upon.  We will always be grateful to Noel for informing us some time ago of his intentions so we could work together to ensure a seamless transition to Stephen’s leadership. Noel has been truly loyal to us and the Resort from the day he started, and we wish him every future success in his next chapter.

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