From The Archives: Hospitality Ireland Talks To San Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 For The UK And Ireland Killian Crowley

By Dave Simpson
From The Archives: Hospitality Ireland Talks To San Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 For The UK And Ireland Killian Crowley

Exclusively for Premium Plus and digital website members, Hospitality Ireland presents a piece originally featured in the February 2018 issue of our print publication in which we talk to San Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 for the UK and Ireland Killian Crowley.

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Tell us a bit about your background.

I was born and raised in Belgium and France. When I was 15 years old, I went to cookery school until I was 18 years old. I knew from the age of four that I wanted to be a chef. I love food, and I always had good food at home.

How did you end up at Aniar?

I started working in Luxembourg straight out of school and then went to Monaco and Brussels. Then I was thinking about coming over to Ireland and wanted to learn about Irish food. Aniar seemed to be the place!

JP McMahon is obviously a massive name in Irish cooking circles. What has it been like working under him?

It's been great. It is completely different to anywhere else I've been. You don't learn how to be a chef, you learn more than that - how to be a good listener, how to be patient, how to teach and give a chance to everyone, and to believe in yourself. Not everybody wakes up in the morning and thinks, "I'm going to show the world that Ireland is there on the food map, and not at the bottom!" Food is not only about how good you are, but what you can do with it to teach people. Chefs have bigger responsibilities, not only towards their customers, but towards the environment and the next generation.


What do you enjoy about working at Aniar and what's your favourite thing about being a chef?

The work-life balance, the freedom of creativity and the focus on the right ingredients - sustainable, local, wild. I love everything about being a chef - cooking food, sourcing produce and meeting great people, teaching and seeing that little spark of understanding in someone else. Sharing everything - that, for me, is one of the highlights of this job. It's all about sharing.

You already have plenty of experience working in Michelin-star restaurants in France and in Belgium. What attracts you to this type of cooking?

I believe that if you train with the best people, you have everything required to do whatever you want after that. I see training like education. Experience gives opportunities. You need to learn the best skills and mindset to reach whatever you want.

You won the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 for the UK and Ireland regional final. What does winning this mean to you?

I'm delighted. It's a great competition with talented chefs, and it's good for Ireland.

Why did you choose the dish you chose for this competition?

I created this dish because I was inspired by the west of Ireland - the producers, the wild ingredients and the quality of the product. There is a story and a message behind the dish. Ireland has beautiful produce. This reflects the process of how we put dishes together in Aniar. Everything revolves around the ingredients and the story that they produce.

Are you confident in performing well at the global final next year?

When you enter a competition, you enter it to win. The objective was to win Ireland and the UK, and now I'm going to enjoy the journey and do my very best and stand tall for Ireland and Irish food. It's like a big bonus for me. I consider myself lucky, but I'm still going to train hard. The restaurant is also 100% behind me, so I have time to practise and rehearse the dish. JP firmly believes in the importance of the competition in terms of putting Irish food on the map.


Do you hope to open your own restaurant one day?

Yes. As with most chefs, I believe you want to have your own space, express yourself and tell your own story. It's part of the journey of being a chef.

Do you have any pet hates?

Catering and hospitality establishments that try to attract and serve every market segment, losing their identity in doing so.

What would your death-row meal be ?

My death-row meal wouldn't be about what, but with whom I want to spend it - my friends and my family, because sometimes eating is about the people you share it with more than the food itself.

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