Wednesday 18 October 2017

Irish Chef Stuart O'Keeffe: Why Stu's stew is the talk of Tinseltown . . .

Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

An Irish chef has become a celebrity favourite, writes Deirdre Reynolds

Dishy Irish chef Stuart O'Keeffe has cooked for Hollywood stars including the Kardashians, Sharon Stone and Kyle MacLachlan.

But never mind celery sticks -- it's his homemade Guinness 'Stu' and calorific mashed potato that's causing a stir in Tinseltown.

"I don't tell anyone how much butter, cream, salt and pepper goes into the spuds," jokes Stuart (30), "but they all think it's delicious!"

Nenagh native Stuart shot to fame on US reality TV show Private Chefs of Beverly Hills on the Food Network -- and is now hotly sought after.

"Felicity Huffman insisted that I come up to her house to cook when we met recently," says Stuart, who now lives in LA. "And Kris Kardashian has been emailing my agent about getting me back after I cooked for the family at their home in Calabasas last year.

"It can be a bit surreal rifling through Sharon Stone's fridge," he adds. "Usually, clients come into the kitchen while I'm cooking to sit down and have a coffee and ask me for tips.

"It's very exciting -- but most of the time I'm too busy trying not to let the food burn to get starstruck!"

Celeb chef Stuart got his big break Stateside giving healthy eating tips on The Biggest Loser's website before being scooped up as the face of Tupperware. And he's just landed his own cookery segment on Home Made Simple on Oprah Winfrey's TV network OWN.

But it all started in a small kitchen in Tipperary.

"Growing up, I was always in the kitchen with my mother or aunt -- they were a huge influence on me.

"As a teenager, I always loved the creative side of cooking and dreamt about the Hollywood lifestyle.

'So after doing a degree in Culinary Arts in DIT Cathal Brugha Street, I took off to Napa Valley to work in a restaurant. Once I moved to LA, I got an agent and things just took off from there," he says.

"Being Irish has definitely helped," he adds. "It's a really competitive industry but I figured I had a better chance of making it as a chef than an actor!

"In LA, it's all about 'gluten-free' this and 'kale' that -- I'm trying to introduce a bit of the Irish way of cooking: healthy, wholesome casseroles, soups and stews."

Between South Beach and Dukan though, does anyone really eat in La La Land?

"Cooking for dinner parties can be a bit of a lost cause," jokes Stuart. "A lot of women don't even eat the food -- but like the idea of having a chef in the kitchen cooking for them and their friends.

"One client told me not to bother making dessert because she was having her favourite cupcakes flown from a bakery in New York. There's certainly no recession in LA!"

Busy Stuart recently jetted back into Ireland to launch Let's Cook -- a series of free cookery classes for arthritis sufferers developed by Arthritis Ireland. He's set to return to Irish screens later this year in the second season of TV3's Stuart's Kitchen.

"I decided to join the campaign because my granny suffered with arthritis before she died," he tells.

"When people are diagnosed with a chronic condition like arthritis, they might be concerned about how it will impact on things they love doing, like cooking.

"I wanted to show it is possible for people with arthritis to continue their passion for cooking."

But Stuart's scrumptious cuisine isn't the only thing that's got fans salivating -- bloggers are drooling over the "chef-alicious man candy" making it, too.

"Right now, I'm just focusing on my career and hopefully my love life will follow!"

Irish Independent

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