Gary Rogers, Executive Chef At Carton House, Discusses His Career

By Emily Hourican
Gary Rogers, Executive Chef At Carton House, Discusses His Career

FACE2FACE with…GARY ROGERS, Executive Chef at Carton House.

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in October of 2021.

Tell us about your new role.

I joined Carton House – Ireland’s first Fairmont-managed hotel – in May. I oversee all food operations, including our fine-dining restaurant, the Morrison Room, Mediterranean-style restaurant Kathleen’s Kitchen, afternoon tea in the original drawing rooms of the house, the Carriage House gastropub, and all conferences and events. Currently, we’re employing 25 chefs and ten kitchen porters, but we are recruiting at the moment, to meet an increase in business.

How has the last year been for you?

It’s been very good, all things considered. I worked pretty much all the way through Covid. I also had extra time at home with my family, which was fantastic.

Tell us about your career so far.

At the start, I worked in a couple of gastropubs, then in a couple of hotels, before moving to Australia, where I was head chef in a five-star casino resort, SkyCity, before being promoted to banquet head chef, then executive sous-chef, and then I spent my last year and a half there as executive chef. My family and I returned to Ireland, where I worked as executive chef in Lyrath Estate for two years before moving to the Conrad Dublin as executive chef for two years, before joining Carton House in May of this year.

What was your best professional decision?

Without a doubt, moving to Australia – both professionally and personally. My family thrived over there and loved the experience, and I gained fantastic experience at a very high level, which opened up so many doors for me when I returned to Ireland.


What was your most challenging moment?

Opening the first Fairmont-managed hotel in Ireland: Carton House. I joined on 23 May and had a huge amount of work to do in all areas to be ready to open on 2 June, but – having said that – it was a fantastic experience, and I loved the challenge.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Meeting [Irish rugby union player] Robbie Henshaw in a restaurant one night and asking, “Where do I know you from?” and asking his partner was she a food blogger.

What three attributes do you wish you had?

More patience; speaking more languages; a better sleeper. What is your favourite restaurant? Potager, in Skerries, although I haven’t been there in a while now.

Favourite holiday destination?

Sri Lanka.

What was your worst job?

Picking gooseberries when I was a kid.


Carton House.

Carton House

What was so bad about it?

My arms were ripped off me by thorns, and I used to get around £2 or £3 a day.

If you could do any other job – apart from the job you are doing now – what would it be, and why?

Professional golfer. It looks like a very nice life!

Do you have any pet hates?

People being bad timekeepers; people not being team players; negative individuals.


What is your business motto?

You get out what you put in.

What is the best advice that you ever received?

Always aim high and trust your ability.

With which fictional character do you most identify?

Rocky – because I got knocked back a few times earlier in my career but kept on trying, and I always try my best.

Name one thing that you always have in your refrigerator.

Mrs Ball’s Chutney.

What is your recipe for a successful hotel restaurant?

Use local suppliers, have very professional staff – both at front and back of house – and have interesting menu choices and great wine.


What do Irish hotels and restaurants do best?

Without a doubt, it is the welcome and world-class hospitality we deliver, and we have the best ingredients in the world on our doorstep.

What could they do better?

Probably more variety on menus. I notice, in certain touristy destinations in Ireland, a lot of the menus you encounter are very similar.

Are Irish people good customers?

Yes, I think so. We are quite knowledgeable when it comes to food and wine, and we are fair. We will always give hotels and restaurants a good crack at getting things right.

Your death row meal ...?

Black sole bonne femme.

What is the most enjoyable part of your career?

I love the variety in my job – no two days are ever the same. I love the sense of achievement when a day goes well and guests are happy.

What has been your biggest disappointment to date?

Totò Schillaci scoring against Ireland and knocking them out of Italia ’90.

Complete this sentence: ‘Nothing is more important than ...?’

Family. That goes without saying.


Read More: Hospitality Ireland Autumn 2021: Read The Latest Issue Online!