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A Tale Of Two Foodies
The word on the street is that RTÉ has a major hit on its hands with the new cookery competition show, MasterChef Ireland. It features two of the country's leading restauranteurs – the fiery Dylan McGrath of Rustic Stone and the genial Nick Munier of Pichet – who adjudicate on the efforts of 16 aspiring culinary stars. It’s a series in which the sparks are guaranteed to fly – and on occasion the tears to flow.
Olaf Tyaransen, 16 Sep 2011
Dylan McGrath and Nick Munier, esteemed judges of the new RTÉ version of hit cookery competition show MasterChef Ireland, were both born on August 4. Although there’s a ten-year age gap betweeen the two Leos, the fiery Irish chef and the suave English maitre d’ have much more than just a birthday in common.
They’re both incredibly passionate about food and service. They both run their own establishments, just around the corner from each other in Dublin city centre. And both restaurateurs are also already relatively famous through previous TV work – McGrath for his controversial appearances on RTÉ’s Guerilla Gourmet (where he famously served a meal in the dark) and fly-on-the-wall doc The Pressure Cooker; Munier for his show-stealing turns on Marco Pierre White’s ITV series Hell’s Kitchen. While they come from very different backgrounds, they’ve both been in the business for practically all of their adult lives, building impressive CVs mostly through working at very high-end establishments.
Born in Dublin in 1977, the shaven-headed McGrath grew up on the Falls Road in Belfast at the height of the Troubles. Although not especially interested in food as a youth, at 18 he became a chef in the local Jury’s. Such was his obvious natural talent that he was promoted to head chef within three weeks. Having built up some valuable kitchen experience there, he took a serious paycut to go and work in Roscoffs, Northen Ireland’s only Michelin starred restaurant.
He eventually moved to England, where he spent three years at John Burton Race’s two-star Michelin restaurant, L’Oclolan, in Reading. Other prestigious placements followed (including a stint with Tom Aiken in Chelsea) before the young Irishman returned to Dublin to open his own place, Mint, in Ranelagh. Too small to survive the economic downturn (it had only 40 seats), the acclaimed restaurant closed in 2009, but not before the young chef – described by food critic Domini Kemp as a “creative genius” – had earned his first Michelin star in its kitchen. More recently, he opened ‘Rustic Stone Restaurant by Dylan McGrath’ on Georges Street.