The RAI are proud to introduce this year’s exceptional team of top chefs, from across the country. Our chefs will be preparing a six-course meal for over 900 guests at the All Ireland Awards final on the 8th of May in the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road, Dublin.
Find out how our team of chefs are selected each year here: https://irishrestaurantawards.com/irish-restaurant-awards-chef-team-selection/
Keep reading to find out more about each of our brilliant chefs!
Finbarr Higgins – The Clayton Hotel Burlington Road
Finbarr Higgins is the newly appointed Executive Chef of The Clayton Burlington Road. He was previously the Executive Chef at The K Club for 24 years and before that was trained in French haute cuisine under Anton Edelmann in The Savoy Hotel in London. Finbarr is an essential part of the team when it comes to co-ordinating the preparation and plating up of 5 courses for over 900 guests in one sitting.
Jonathan Keane – The Lodge at Ashford Castle & Wilde’s Restaurant
Jonathan is the executive chef in The Lodge at Ashford Castel and Wilde’s Restaurant. The son of a sheep farmer and gardener, Jonathan grew up beside Kylemore Abbey, farmhouse and gardens in beautiful Connemara. He first started working in a professional kitchen at the age of 15 and immediately decided this was the career path for him. Having trained with some of the west’s finest chefs and hoteliers, Jonathan was a Head Chef by the age of 22. He has worked in kitchens such as O’Gradys Seafood Restaurant, Cashel House Hotel, Adare Manor Hotel, Byrne’s Restaurant and The Blackberry Café. He has completed stagieres in Cillini’s Sydney and No.1 Lombard Street with Herbert Berger in London. He was recruited for The Lodge in 2012, and has helped The Lodge evolve into one of the west’s finest eateries. Jonathan’s childhood has a major influence on his menu’s and style of cooking. He cooks with gorse flowers, wood sorrel, pine, seaweeds and cresses. He only works with the best producers such as Kelly’s Butchers, The McHale Brothers in Castlebar, Cuinneog Butter, Achill Island Sea Salt and Gannets Fish to name but a few. His menus are strictly seasonal and he and his team forage for ingredients ever day. Jonathan tends to his polytunnel daily and will soon have beehives supplying honey for his menus on the estate. He is a member of the Euro-Toques, Co-Founder of The Slow Food Movement in Mayo and Chairperson of Cong Food Village. Cong Food Village was founded by Jonathan in January 2015, with the aim to develop the village of Cong into an internationally renowned food destination, and to help promote and educate the local community on the virtues of real, sustainable food.
Gary O’Hanlon – Viewmount House
Gary O Hanlon has been Head Chef of Viewmount House, Co. Longford since 2008. Winner of the Georgina Campbell ‘Best Restaurant in Ireland’ 2014, Food & Wine Magazine ‘Best Chef Leinster 2016’ and ‘Country House of the Year 2017’ Gary has been ever present on our TV screens since 2008 with appearances on MasterChef Ireland, Four Live, The Today Show, Late Lunch Live, The Seven O Clock Show and is resident Chef on TV3’s ‘The Restaurant’. Gary is a columnist with The Irish Times, has a food show on Shannonside/Northern Sound and is a regular contributor on Today FM.
Kevin Aherne – SAGE
Kevin Aherne and his restaurant SAGE in Midleton, Co. Cork have become synonymous with all things local. The fact that his acclaimed dishes are solely created using produce from within 12 miles of his restaurant’s front door demonstrates his commitment to defining and showcasing what sourcing locally really means. Since opening SAGE at the age of 24, Aherne has received critical acclaim and was awarded Best Chef in Munster at the 2014 Restaurant Association Awards along with Best Chef in Cork and Best Restaurant in 2016. He is currently acting as a Fáilte Ireland Food Champion for the Cork area and was recently elected to the Board of Commissioners of Eurotoques Ireland. SAGE has been named as one of Ireland’s 100 Best Restaurants by The McKenna Guide and has garnered international acclaim by food writers such as Nicholas Landers and Marina O’Loughlin. His commitment to local empowers rather than curtails his culinary talents and he is constantly re-inventing the traditional staples of the Irish larder. He is committed to showcasing the producers of his area and firmly believes 12 mile is an attitude that could be adopted almost anywhere in the country.
Gareth Mullins – The Marker Hotel
Gareth is responsible for all menu design and food preparation in The Marker Hotel’s four kitchens which covers the Brasserie, the Rooftop Bar and Terrace, the Marker Bar and in-room dining. With over 16 years’ experience cooking in five star hotels in Ireland and Australia, Gareth spent seven years in the Merrion Hotel, where he was Head Chef in The Cellar Restaurant & Bar. During his tenure at The Cellar, the restaurant received two AA rosettes and the bar was recommended in the Michelin Guide. The Brasserie at The Marker has been awarded the accolade of two AA rosettes and “Best Hotel Restaurant in Dublin” at the RAI awards under Gareth’s leadership.
David Gillmore – James Street South Restaurant
From his early teens David Gillmore knew he wanted to be a chef, citing his grandmother and her love of cooking as his main inspiration. The youngest of three children, Gillmore was born in Birkenhead and moved to North Wales aged six. His parents were fully behind his dreams to become a world class chef, and after leaving school at 16 he went on to complete his professional qualifications at West Cheshire Catering College. David cut his teeth in his first job as an apprentice at a global hotel chain. He was then catapulted into the realms of award winning cuisine when he won the Gordon Ramsay scholarship in 2005, setting him on the path to success. His career has gone from strength to strength and he has worked at some of the country’s top kitchens including the Chester Grosvenor, Lords of the Manor in the Cotswolds and the Vineyard at Stockcross. Whilst acting as head chef at The Lawns at the Thornton Hall Hotel it was awarded three prestigious AA Rosettes. David made the move to Northern Ireland last year and has been head chef of James Street South since September 2013.
Our chefs have years of experience, a flare for creativity and each bring something exceptional to the menu which be revealed on the 8th of May at the Irish Restaurant Awards 2017.