Chef Profile August 2017: Anthony Boyle, Head Chef at the Whistledown Hotel
Anthony Boyle, Head Chef at the Whistledown Hotel, Warrenpoint, talks to HRNI
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO COOKING, AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
I was totally inspired by my mother, who is a really great cook, ensuring there is always good food on the table. Growing up, I loved the smell of cooking in the kitchen when she was making bread and apple tarts and obviously I enjoyed sampling the food too.
HAVE YOU ANY CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS?
At the age of 16, I undertook a Professional Cookery Course at Newry Catering College whilst working in kitchens in the evenings and at weekends to gain as much experience as possible. I had considered other job options but working in the catering profession was definitely the career path that was right for me.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE TRADE?
My first proper job was in the Yew Tree Restaurant in Trevor Hill, Newry where I worked for two years. I started off prepping vegetables in the basement of an old listed building where I worked 10-hour shifts for three months solid. I then progressed upstairs to work in the kitchen and, after four months of cooking with them, I was appointed second chef.
From there, an opportunity arose at the Donmir Restaurant in Warrenpoint where I started as second chef and, three months later, I was promoted to head chef. Following that, I was offered the position of head chef in the Olive Grove Restaurant which was Newry’s first Italian-inspired restaurant, and where I remained until the restaurant closed for renovations.
At the age of 22 and having held the position of head chef in Annie O’s Steak House in Rostrevor for a year, I moved to work with chef/owner Colum McAvoy at the Whistledown Hotel, Warrenpoint where I have remained for 20 years.
HAS ANYONE INSPIRED YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
I was inspired by my parents. My father worked as a journalist for many years and I learnt a great deal from him. I particularly admired his work ethic as he worked his way up to become editor at the Irish News. From the cooking perspective, I’ve inherited a lot from my mum who taught me to cook good honest food.
Also, Colum at the Whistledown Inn, and Jamie Oliver. I admire his drive to bring quality food to schools and hospitals. I like Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc’s cooking styles and love of good ingredients.
WHAT IS YOUR COOKING STYLE?
We have two restaurants; the Bistro serves an Irish-inspired menu and the Pizzeria menu is Italian-inspired with an emphasis on use of the best local Irish produce available.
WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR FOOD FROM?
We have been in business for almost 25 years and have developed good relationships with producers and local suppliers. We are proud of our dedication to quality Irish produce and only use Irish beef and lamb products, Irish cheese and responsibly-sourced fish and seafood.
WHAT SIZE IS YOUR STAFF?
I have a team of 12 chefs working with me in the kitchen, and a kitchen manager who assists me in the extensive documentation now required in the kitchen environment.
HAVE YOU ANY TIPS?
I have learned that good planning, a calm head and listening to both customer and staff feedback can be valuable to everyone’s work in the kitchen.
HAVE YOU ANY INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK?
As a chef, your time outside of work is limited but precious and I enjoy spending time with my family. I am a keen motorcyclist and love heading away with a few friends. I have travelled around Ireland and Scotland and am looking forward to returning to Kerry later in the summer.
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