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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
Are celebrity customers important?
DYLAN: I think it’s nice. I’m very unimpressed by a lot of people. I don’t get starstruck very easily. That’s not to say that it isn’t interesting to meet certain people, but I wouldn’t be as knocked over by certain individuals, and I’ve cooked for, and met, quite a few. Specific people might stick out from time to time.
NICK: I worked at The Clarence for five years and I met Bono for the first time and that was quite inspiring. He has that aura about him and it was quite an experience. Wow! After that, he’d always ask about my family and how I was doing, which was a great, respectful thing. But I think when A or Z-list celebrities come in here, my staff would be more impressed than I would.
DYLAN: I suppose the question you’re asking is; is it important for business? I think Nick would feel the same: if you’re relying on that sort of thing to drive your business, it’s kind of a bit silly. I think they’ll come and they’ll go, and a place can be cool and funky and approachable, and it’s great to have different types of people, but it’s really about the customers themselves. Customers love to see someone like that in a room, depending on who it is, but I certainly don’t rely on that. I like the discretion of it. I don’t ring the papers when such and such is in. You kind of protect their discretion to some degree, and meet some cool people along the way, but it’s not part of the business for me.
Nick’s done a dinner for Madonna. Do you ever get hired to go and cook in somebody’s private kitchen, Dylan?
DYLAN: You mean like celebrity type things? I had some very, very wealthy customers at Mint, who would ask me to go and cook privately in their homes. Which was great (laughs) because when Mint closed I literally had to put things together again and put my life back together again.
Were you totally broke when Mint closed?
DYLAN: Yeah. But I mean, it wasn’t massive, massive. It was just a case of okay, you’ve got to put your life back together, and look at what the next step should be. My mother was very sick at the time, so the option of leaving Ireland, as much as I thought it was my only option, was something I had to decline. I had to try and think of something that I’d be able to operate that would allow me to spend time with her. Which is where Rustic Stone came from.