• Around the County

Banagher man cooks up a storm in celeb restaurant

Saturday, 20th November, 2010 9:30am

Story by Danielle Harney

A young Banagher man has so far achieved the dreams of many a young chef, having worked in Michelin starred restaurants and taking charge of a celebrity-filled restaurant in London.

Chris Molloy has rapidly risen to the top of his game, and is currently head chef in film director Guy Richie’s well-known pub 'The Punchbowl’ in Mayfair, London.

From an early age, Chris was always into cooking. He remembers baking scones with his mum in the family kitchen from when he was three or four. Indeed, his first part-time job as a teenager was in a local butcher shop and after three weeks of washing-up duty, Chris was serving behind the counter.

AIT was his first choice once he finished school. He studied the three year Culinary Arts course, which consisted of six-month rotations in college and work experience. However, his talent was always evident as a student. Chris won the National Skills, which was a three day cooking competition in GMIT. He graduated with distinction and won the student of the year award.

After graduating, Chris worked in the Wineport Restaurant in Glasson, Westmeath, winning second place in the national best porridge-making competition. From there, Chris got his big break in L’Ecrivain, the Michelin star restaurant in Dublin with well-known chef Derry Clarke.

“It was a hard step up because having a Michelin star is all about consistency, but the standard there is almost, if not better, than London,” said Chris.

However, Chris decided to move to London at the age of 23 for more experience and his first job was in a Gordon Ramsey restaurant.

“He’s never in the kitchen, I think I saw him three times in a year, but his protegees were very, very similar to him,” he said.

He took a job in Maze, another Michelin restaurant, however the work was tough.

“I had a 7am start and could finish at 1am or 2am, while working 16 or 17 days in a row. You got yelled at and stuff was thrown at you. I lasted eight weeks, I just couldn’t deal with it,” he said. “L’Ecrivain was a lovely place, it was run properly.”

Chris also spent time at Arsenal FC’s Diamond Club, run by another well-known chef Raymond Blanc. However, Chris was now a wanted man and went back to the Maze with a promotion. He then went to Guy Richie’s restaurant and after a few months, was promoted to head chef.

Chris loves it there and is very happy being the boss. He said that despite the celeb-tag on the pub, it has a great reputation for good, quality food, which is why people return.

His long-term ambition is to open up his own restaurant, ideally in Ireland, but perhaps in London. He also wouldn’t refuse the chance to do his own TV show to raise his profile. However, it’s not all work; next August, Chris is getting married to his fiancee Una Kiernan, a primary school teacher from Leitrim. They met as students in Athlone IT.

He also comes home to see his family a few times a year, for a well-deserved break from cooking.

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