I realized that I wanted to own my own place and not work for a large organization, but to do so would require a greater knowledge of the kitchen side and of course some money.

So I went to study in the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School under the direction of Darina Allen whose passion for food is an eye opener, for three short months she was there guiding, offering advice and sharing her knowledge of all the good things that we have in Ireland, it was priceless . (funny memory) at the final exam I had a choice to make as the last few minutes were ticking by, do I carry on cooking and tasting my dishes or start the clean up, I confess I did the former and with the examiners walking through the doors and beginning to check the first student I did what I had to do in the situation , placing all my pots, pans and anything that required washing on the bay window, covered it with a table cloth and then placed a selection of vegetables and fruits on it, creating a wonderful display as a backdrop for my dishes of food that I place around it.

After a three month intensive training and coming out with top placement in the exams I then went to work in the Ballmaloe House Kitchens and Restaurant where once again seeing the dedication and profession of the team headed my Myrtle Allen was so inspiring, it was here that the finer points of food preparation where instilled in me(funny memory) .I was preparing the brussel sprouts in the kitchen and must have got side tracked anyway the sprouts got a little overcooked, so I went out to gather some more, not from a freezer, not from a bag purchased in a shop but outside into the winter’s evening with my torch and down to the garden, after picking enough, retired to the scullery to wash them under the cold water tap before bringing them into the kitchen and my memory is of the changes in the colour of my hands during this operation, they were rose colour leaving the kitchen, they turned black from the earth during the picking of the sprouts, and as the dirth was washed off they turned blue from the coldness and then finally became cherry red as they warmed up back in the kitchen, but that is why Ballymaloe has such a great name for their food, they care.

Whites on the Green in Dublin was a wonderful restaurant to have worked in and once again I was like a sponge soaking up the knowledge of the chef’s team.

Marlfield House Goery Relais et Chateau, here under the guidance of Mary Bowe

Gileigh Park in Devon working under Shaun Hill it was obvious his philosophy was of producing intelligent, distinctive and unpretentious food with real integrity.

Now I had to make some money, and that is why I went off to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for the next number of years, starting as a busboy , then waiter and shortly after as head waiter. Here despite the large numbers of guests that were dining every day, the company were determined to offer them the best possible experience for the guests. (Funny memory) the dining room manager was passing by the kitchen when he saw a busboy holding a bowl of mustard under the grill, asking him what he was doing the reply was “ a guest has asked for hot mustard”, like all other places I have worked in this dedication to looking after all the guest wishes, even if the message is lost in translation.

Finally I was approached by my agent to go to Asia and open up and run an upmarket Irish bar in the financial area of Bangkok, where the dining and the service was to be paramount for the working expats of the city, after opening their second bar I found it time to head home.(

Posted in: About John