These superstar women are shaking up the Irish food industry
In honour of this year’s International Women’s Day, I wanted to give a shout out to some awesome Irish chefs that are not only cooking great food but also making waves in the industry. Give these rising stars a follow or even better, seek out their food - you won’t regret it.
Grainne was crowned Euro-Toques Ireland young chef of the year last year while working as the head pastry chef at Lignum restaurant in Loughrea, Co Galway. The competition runs throughout the year, so it’s no mean feat to take part while juggling a demanding kitchen role. Right now, we hear she is busy over at Jess Murphy’s Kai in Galway where her eye-catching cakes and pastries are surely holding pride of place on their famous cake counter.
Niamh has a fine food pedigree having spent time in the kitchens of Ard Bia and Kai in Galway, Rochelle Canteen in London and Cafe Paradiso in Cork as well as cooking all over Ireland at some of the best pop-up events and festivals. In 2018 she opened the wonderful Little Fox in Ennistymon, Co. Clare where she serves super seasonal menus, all from local suppliers in Clare. It’s become a firm foodie favourite winning praise from critics and locals alike.
Ex sous chef of Michelin starred Loam, Galway, Tipperary chef Christine Walsh is now based in Dublin cooking at hot new restaurant opening Allta. Here, she's responsible for the in-house charcuterie and ferments as well as having a successful pop-up "Leaven" on the side. Her food philosophy revolves a lot around preservation, fermentation and sustainable practices making food that's a bit different but delivers hugely on flavour.
Last year DIT graduate Gillen took home Rising Star of the Year at the 2019 Food and Wine Awards, having been a key member of the kitchen team at Michelin starred Liath in Blackrock (formerly Heron & Grey) since 2015. Conscious of the lack of female representation in kitchens she ran a sold out pop-up dinner, Forás, last August along with Ailish O’Neill where they served a seven-course menu inspired by some of their favourite female chefs from around the world. She's currently working on her next pop up, Evenir.
Impressive desserts are par for the course for DIT graduate Gartlan having worked in the pastry kitchen at five star Lough Erne resort and Glovers Alley before joining the two Michelin starred kitchen at The Greenhouse on Dawson Street. Her confections are like pieces of art and taste amazing too.
Head chef at 3FEs Gertrude in Dublin, Katie came to cooking only a few years ago after leaving a career in the veterinary world and heading to Ballymaloe. She was then lucky to train under the brilliant Hilary O’Hagan Brennan at Five Points before taking the helm at Gertrude. In true millennial style, she has a side hustle making her own very tasty kombucha, Katies Kombucha, that’s hitting the shelves in Dublin Super Valu’s any day now. Watch this space.
Head chef at Lilliput Stores (where she cooks along with Zia Burke, also one to watch), Katie cooks with fantastic Irish produce at the cafe and at Lilliput Evenings, where they serve seasonal menus, small plates and paired wines Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. She’s also started to run approachable, no-nonsense cooking courses ‘Home Cooking with Katie’ where she focuses on teaching practical, seasonal and sustainable dishes.
Deborah, a recent TU graduate has been working at the brilliant Kai under the watchful eye of Jess Murphy and Hannah O’Donnell who are the chefs behind all that epic Kai deliciousness we’ve come to love. Deborah is a dab hand at baking and photography so make sure to check out her very aesthetically pleasing and hunger-inducing Instagram. There’s even a pun or two thrown in for good measure.
Head pastry chef at Michelin starred Ox in Belfast, Nicole was highly commended in for Pastry Chef of the Year at the Food and Wine awards 2019. At Ox, she creates intricate desserts, petit fours and their famous gougère. Outside of this, she makes incredible cakes with impeccable icing all documented on her tempting Instagram feed.