Life as a Chef - Our Chefs Share Their Thoughts

How to become a Chef

In September 2015 we launched our popular 'How To beocme a Chef' series where we asked Good Food Ireland Chefs a number of questions about their journey - the results showed that they pretty much all had three things in common:

Our Good Food Ireland Chefs confessed that they:

1: Would have like to have travelled more & each concludes that travel is THE best way to experience different cultures and foods.

2: Had to make BIG sacrifices of time with family and friends to be the top Chefs they are today

3: Mother was nearly always the first influencer though each Chef spoke of the ongoing learning process of this career.

Here are a few quotes that struck a chord with us - have a read through their stories- they are very inspiring!


I think moving away from your family and friends and people you know to say ‘I am going to do this and I am going to do it on my own’ is very challenging. No one spoke English in the kitchen,  so I had to learn enough to get me through the orders and the menu. I started with numbers and words for different ingredients and went from there. I speak a little Italian now, mainly based on food! I would say to anyone wanting to be a chef, keep the head down, work hard and travel.
~ Ryan Stringer, ely wine bar & ely bar & brasserie, Dublin


Ryan Stringer of ely wine bar & ely bar & brasserie

I am driven by ingredients. I like to keep it simple, with only three hits on a plate.
Every day is a challenge for me and it's far from mundane! I also get the opportunity to get out of the kitchen to go shooting with our game supplier, or meet one of our farmers or producers. But I would love to have travelled more, and perhaps I will again. I would love to go back to Japan and cook and learn about the cuisine there.
~ Enda McEvoy, Loam Restaurant, Galway

Chef Enda McEvoy of Loam

I would rather peel a thousand spuds than do paperwork. I think it takes ten years to become a good cook, and even then you never stop learning. You need a good decade to get to know the chemistry of food, to learn how certain dishes and ingredients react, and college doesn’t really teach you that. The best mistakes are your own mistakes where you can learn from them. By that I mean when you get out of college and start cooking and making mistakes in a working environment, that’s when the real learning starts.
~ Warren Gillen, Cistín Eile, Wexford

Chef Warren Gillen of Cistin Eile

I wanted to focus on what we have here, to make a restaurant that people would travel to for an authentic taste of Donegal.  I love to promote what we have in Donegal, we have fantastic quality ingredients. That has also spurred me in more recent times into getting involved with the Letterkenny Artisan Farmers Market which takes place in town every Saturday.
~ Chris Molloy, the Lemon Tree Restaurant, Donegal

Chef Chris Molloy of The Lemon Tree Restaurant Donegal

Local food is my main influence in the kitchen.  Macroom is a market town and we have a farmer’s market on our doorstep every Tuesday, with a great wealth of local produce. I often pop out to see who is doing what and pick up a few bits and pieces. Also we have heaps of local farms and producers around the Macroom area and we’d be run out of town if we didn’t support them! The hotel is a showcase for the produce of this area and we are very proud of it. 
~ Pat Ryan, The Castle Hotel, Macroom, Cork

Pat Ryan, The Castle Hotel, Macroom

It’s always a struggle to get good staff that will work with you as part of the team. I have a good group of chefs with me now, but the staffing problem is an issue all over the country. To find good dedicated chefs  is tough. I have a fantastic young sous chef and he is brilliant, very passionate about his job and that’s very important. I think the internet, Twitter and other social media has been brilliant for professional chefs because we can see what the other chefs are up to and they can see what we do.
~ Ken Harker, Mount Juliet, Kilkenny

Chef Ken Harker, Mount Juliet

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