From Moneygall to Medley for top chef Andrew!
From humble beginnings on a pig farm in Moneygall to hosting one of the most coveted birthday parties of the year – the exclusive 40th birthday bash for An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar – celebrity chef, Andrew Rudd is at the top of his game.
Owner and Executive Chef at the prestigious private dining and events venue, Medley, on Dublin’s Fleet Street, Andrew says his love affair with food started in his mother’s kitchen in Busherstown House in Moneygall.
“I am one of a family of nine, so you could say I grew up around food,” he says. “My mother, Prue, is a magnificent cook and there was always food on the go in our house , we were nearly self-sufficient, we grew all our own fruit and vegetables and we reared our own pigs, so we were familiar with all aspects of the food chain, from farm to fork.”
Although he never formally trained as a chef, deep down Andrew Rudd always knew he would end up cooking. “It was never something I consciously thought of, but I suppose it was in the DNA and there probably wasn’t much doubt that I would end up coming back to it sooner or later” he admits.
Andrew Rudd’s parents, David and Prue, were among the first wave of artisan food producers in Ireland when they set up Rudd’s Bacon in the 1980s, and although the business is now sold, their legacy lives on with Andrew’s mother working alongside him as an integral part of the kitchen team in Medley.
“My mother has endless culinary skills and years of experience having reared a family of nine and running a business, so she is an invaluable member of our team in Medley,” says Andrew, who received his secondary school education at Wilson’s Hospital school in Mullingar.
“My education was literally paid for from the pigs back because my Dad used to bring me back to boarding school in a refrigerated van and he would unload endless amounts of sausages and rashers for the school from the back of it to pay for my studies,” he laughs.
With a view to getting involved in the family’s bacon business, Andrew Rudd went to the UK after school to study business and agriculture, and among the various jobs he had was working for ‘beef baron’ Larry Goodman and also working as head of sales for a tobacco company – a job he left after eight months as he took a big dislike to the corporate lifestyle!
It was while he was working as an importer and distributor of olive oil and other fine foodstuffs from the Mediterranean and Malta that Andrew Rudd got his first big media break, and this propelled him into a full-time career in the culinary world.
“Ireland AM on TV3 were travelling to Malta and needed someone with a knowledge of Maltese food so the Maltese Embassy put them in contact with me,” says Andrew, who spent the next five years as the regular Ireland AM chef and proved himself to be an on-screen natural. “I did about 30 outside broadcasts for the programme, many of them from Bordeaux and other parts of Europe, so I was expanding my knowledge of food all the time, and it was a fantastic learning curve for me.”
His stint on Ireland AM led to the Moneygall chef setting up a private catering company, and he was on the lookout for a premises to use a production kitchen, which led to the opening of Medley on Drury Street in 2012.
“The reason I chose the name Medley was because I was doing a lot of different things, essentially a medley of food from different parts of the world and a medley of events such as launches, weddings and birthday parties. We even had Microsoft launch their Xbox on our premises,” he says.
So successful was the Medley brand that it actually outgrew its original premises, so in 2016 the business moved to a stunning new premises in the former Irish Times building on Fleet street where it has trebled in size, and boasts a coffee shop and bistro on the ground floor and a private dining and events space upstairs, which is where Leo Varadkar's 40th birthday party was hosted.
With five full-time chefs in the Medley kitchen , “all under the age of 25,”he points out, as well as Andrew in his Executive Chef role and his mother, Prue, working alongside him, life is very busy and exciting. However, the ambitious Moneygall man is not resting on his laurels and has recently taken over an arts centre complex in Smithfield, called The Complex, which can cater for up to 800 people for corporate events, and a magnificent historic country house called Ballintubbert House, outside Stradbally in county Laois where he hopes to cater for weddings and other smaller bespoke events.
How does someone with so many business interests and such a busy lifestyle switch off? Well, in the true style of a “foodie” he admits that he loves to relax by cooking, eating and having a drink on his off time, and he returns to Birr to catch up with family and friends whenever he gets a day off, although he admits that time off can be “a rarity in this job.”
With a best-selling cookbook under his belt, 'Entertaining with Andrew Rudd' and three separate business ventures on the go at the moment, it looks like we will be hearing a lot more from the self-taught Moneygall chef in the future.