This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in October of 2021.
I joined Carton House – Ireland’s first Fairmont-managed hotel – in May. I oversee all food operations, including our fine-dining restaurant, the Morrison Room, Mediterranean-style restaurant Kathleen’s Kitchen, afternoon tea in the original drawing rooms of the house, the Carriage House gastropub, and all conferences and events. Currently, we’re employing 25 chefs and ten kitchen porters, but we are recruiting at the moment, to meet an increase in business.
It’s been very good, all things considered. I worked pretty much all the way through Covid. I also had extra time at home with my family, which was fantastic.
At the start, I worked in a couple of gastropubs, then in a couple of hotels, before moving to Australia, where I was head chef in a five-star casino resort, SkyCity, before being promoted to banquet head chef, then executive sous-chef, and then I spent my last year and a half there as executive chef. My family and I returned to Ireland, where I worked as executive chef in Lyrath Estate for two years before moving to the Conrad Dublin as executive chef for two years, before joining Carton House in May of this year.
Without a doubt, moving to Australia – both professionally and personally. My family thrived over there and loved the experience, and I gained fantastic experience at a very high level, which opened up so many doors for me when I returned to Ireland.
Opening the first Fairmont-managed hotel in Ireland: Carton House. I joined on 23 May and had a huge amount of work to do in all areas to be ready to open on 2 June, but – having said that – it was a fantastic experience, and I loved the challenge.
Meeting [Irish rugby union player] Robbie Henshaw in a restaurant one night and asking, “Where do I know you from?” and asking his partner was she a food blogger.
More patience; speaking more languages; a better sleeper. What is your favourite restaurant? Potager, in Skerries, although I haven’t been there in a while now.
Picking gooseberries when I was a kid.
My arms were ripped off me by thorns, and I used to get around £2 or £3 a day.
Professional golfer. It looks like a very nice life!
People being bad timekeepers; people not being team players; negative individuals.
You get out what you put in.
Always aim high and trust your ability.
Rocky – because I got knocked back a few times earlier in my career but kept on trying, and I always try my best.
Mrs Ball’s Chutney.
Use local suppliers, have very professional staff – both at front and back of house – and have interesting menu choices and great wine.
Without a doubt, it is the welcome and world-class hospitality we deliver, and we have the best ingredients in the world on our doorstep.
Probably more variety on menus. I notice, in certain touristy destinations in Ireland, a lot of the menus you encounter are very similar.
Yes, I think so. We are quite knowledgeable when it comes to food and wine, and we are fair. We will always give hotels and restaurants a good crack at getting things right.
Black sole bonne femme.
I love the variety in my job – no two days are ever the same. I love the sense of achievement when a day goes well and guests are happy.
Totò Schillaci scoring against Ireland and knocking them out of Italia ’90.
Family. That goes without saying.
Stay up to date