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upon interviewing a cook (in the U.S) who was wishing
to join my kitchen team, Ireland came in to the conversation.
My candidate mentioned that he would like to perhaps
work in Ireland in the future, as he put it " I
am sure that they would need some guys who know how
to cook, because there is nobody there that can ".
This was the point at which I felt the need to bring
him up to speed.
actual fact food in Ireland has been on an upward trend
for the past decade, and the culinary scene is doing
nothing other than entice chefs to work in Ireland and
furthermore, the appeal is hitting those Irish Chefs
who have been learning their craft overseas to return
home. Robert Cowley is just such an example, after working
in some of the best kitchens England, France and America
had to offer, he is back home with a wealth of knowledge,
his own kitchen and the ambition to show just what these
Irish guys can do.
the age of seventeen Cowley packed his bags and moved
to Galway to learn the foundations to his craft, and
after three years he graduated as the schools Student
of the Year, then it was time for the first of his many
was his first stop as second commis at Le Meridien Hotel,
Picadilly. The Oak Room Restaurant would be the first
of the many Michelin Star establishments that Cowley
would labor to develop his career.
Four Seasons Hotel London was next. This was a great
time. Bruno Loubet was presiding over the restaurant
and had joined the company from Le Manoir aux Quat'
Saisons. Loubet had gained a Michelin Star within a
year of joining The Four Seasons, which at that point
was unheard of. He was the talk of London; his passion
and energy filtered down throughout the team. They were
on fire." I was in the right place at the right
time," Cowley reflects " every day things
were happening, new products, new ideas. The restaurant
was packed lunch and dinner. The energy was incredible,
it was every young chef's dream." It was eighteen
months of intensity, but it was time to move on. The
team was disbanding and Bruno was moving on to pursue
his own restaurant. Bigger and better things were on
the road ahead . . .
had got thinking if one star food was incredible what
would it be like to work in a two or three star restaurant.
Le Tante Claire possessed Three Michelin Stars and the
Chef / Proprietor was Pierre Koffman, one of the hardest
and most demanding Chefs in London at this time and
still is to this day. " This was the Kitchen where
you learned to say 'Yes Chef!'" Cowley recants.
"Koffman ran the kitchen. He was a working chef.
There was no sous chef. Every inspiration was from him,
every dish had his name on it. Your idea of perfection
had best be based on his, otherwise your time there
would be short, as would your pay check. If you were
caught over cooking a product or wasting, the cost would
be deducted from your wage under the heading 'expenses.'
You got real careful, real quick. Although it was a
demanding time, it was an awesome experience. With Koffman
there is no Bull Shit. It's all black and white".
was next. Le Grand Cascade, a One Star Michelin restaurant.
"The main purpose of this adventure was to learn
French and experience the culture. The restaurant was
very established and many of the crew had been there
quite some time, then Alain Ducasse took over and it
to The Four Seasons was the next and penultimate move,
however it was to the Palm Beach, Florida property not
London. " I went to the States and worked with
a friend from the early days. It again proved to be
a great and rewarding experience. The style of food
was different, as was the product, coupled with the
fact that I ended up responsible for the hotels Five
Diamond Restaurant and the incredible fishing to be
found life could not get any better". At the end
of eighteen months Cowley's visa had expired and it
was time to move on. After seven years of being on the
road, home looked mighty appealing.
1998 saw the return of Cowley to Ireland as Executive
Chef at Hayfield Manor, Cork's only Five Star hotel.
His culinary style has been unfolding since. This guy
is a GlobalChef and one we will be hearing of a whole
lot more . . .
Smoked Salmon With Mizuna Salad And Wasabi Vinaigrette
biographical information was supplied by www.GlobalChefs.com