Galway City Tribune - Opinion Piece
Enda’s Michelin star is a great Galway stew!October 4, 2012 - 7:56am
All power to Aniar restaurant proprietors Drigín Gaffey, JP McMahon and head chef, Enda McEvoy. Being awarded Galway’s first Michelin star is a massive achievement. While they deserve no end of credit, this success is the result of a wonderful Galway stew, with contributions from patrons, entrepreneurs and talented people from several continents.
Apologies if I forget one or two of the stew’s ingredients. This is more an anecdotal memoir than a fact-perfect account.
I’ve always got on well with chefs. Passionate, vibrant and all just slightly crazy, they speak my language.
Long-serving colyoomistas will remember my very excellent friend Grumpy Chef, who is now neither grumpy nor a chef (if one can ever truly un-chef oneself!) but happy and a father with a family in Hobart, Tasmania.
But one night back in 2000, whilst drinking in the back of the sadly-still-missed Taylor’s bar, he met another young chef called Enda McEvoy. They did what chefs do – they drank and talked about food and drank some more, so when Grumpy was heading off to India, he suggested that Enda fill in for him as downstairs chef at Harriet Leander’s Nimmos, which, with her approval, he did.
As my friend explained to me: “Over the next few years we worked together at Nimmos and became firm friends with plenty of banter and piss-taking of each other. Since my departure to Australia, I have worked with him every time I’ve been back, on weddings, game dinners and other functions. I’m also very blessed to be Godfather to his lovely boy Fin.”
Nimmos was a fantastic place back in those days. The tiny downstairs kitchen turned out great bistro food, while upstairs, chef Jacky Lelievre pretty much singlehandedly introduced fine dining to Galway City.
Jacky had already worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in France, so it must have been great for Enda to encounter such a combination of flair, experience, passion and charm as offered by Harriet’s unique influence and Jacky’s imagination and shining professionalism.
After Harriet sold Nimmos, Enda went to work for her friend and erstwhile colleague, Seamus Sheridan, at the restaurant above his eponymous pub on the Docks. Seamus could see Enda’s potential, and gave him all the staff, time and financial support he could to bring out the young chef’s talent.
By now Enda was passionate about foraging, and would be out each morning at dawn, prowling woodlands and beaches, collecting local wild produce for Sheridan’s kitchen, where he worked alongside a talented team including John McInnes, Jeremy Hunt and Pawel Karnafel, some of whom would later move with him to Aniar, when Sheridan’s was sadly forced to close.
We now take a slight sideways step to recognise the work of another young chef, Alan Williams, who years before had taken the bold step of opening his own restaurant, Abalone, in what was then the culinary desert of Dominick Street.
Williams’ success attracted JP McMahon to open the incredibly successful Spanish restaurant Cava next door to Abalone, and subsequently the street, and indeed the entire West, has become a stroganoff of culinary delight, with Rouge, Creole, La Fine Bouche and Jess Murphy’s award-winning Kai Cafe added to the mix.
When Abalone closed, JP seized the opportunity to continue the work that Seamus Sheridan had started. Aniar was born.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.