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Insider Life - Temple Garner, chef and restaurateur


Temple Garner

Temple Garner

Temple Garner

Temple is the head chef and co-owner of San Lorenzo's restaurant on George's Street in Dublin.

"Because I have four kids under 4, my wife Sandra and I wake between 6 and 7am.

When the oldest two, Daniel and Lucy, go to crèche, I make my way to work. Up until recently I wouldn't get home from the restaurant until about 10.30pm. It's pretty full on, but because it's my restaurant I can't abdicate responsibility.

It's seven days a week, working every weekend… but it is what it is. The thing with restaurant work is that in any other job, except maybe flying an airplane, you can underperform by 50%. If you do that in this line of work, you'll be out of business in six months.

I have a good team. You have to lead from the front. It takes a while to find [good staff], and you have to pay them properly. You see people like Gordon Ramsay screaming at chefs on TV; let me assure you, he's not doing that all the time. He's working on creating a loyalty with these people so they won't underperform.

There's a general portrayal of chefs as slightly dysfunctional and angry, and it's all very true. The reason is because we work up to 80 hours a week; the mores and politeness of regular society don't apply.

If you don't fit into conventional society, you'll find a home in catering. You get to work at 8am, lunch kicks off at 12, you have to shake the cobwebs or else you'll be in the shit all day long.

I get a cup of coffee around 3pm, a moment to relax, and then the adrenaline goes off again. It's a constant cycle, and without realising you get addicted to it. I don't know that I actually enjoy it, but I figure it out.

Most wind down at the end of the night with a drink or something, and before you know it, it's 5am. But I'm 45 now, and you can only do that life before you burn out. I barely drink anymore.

The restaurant boom in Dublin is interesting. The thing about competition is that it keeps you on your game. People have to be better with their ideas and creativity. There's room for expansion though; I don't think we've reached saturation point in Dublin just yet. When we opened, one of the keys was good food and service at a good price. Above all, we are in the business of making people happy.

It's a very simple idea, but a lot of restaurants coming up now have a specific vibe or theme, and their production values are getting left behind. There are a lot of too-cool-for-school places, which I find irritating.

All the stuff in my restaurant is made in-house. I started doing the desserts myself; mainly because in some restaurants they're either an oversight or overdone. Our desserts are real 'momma's kitchen' desserts, and they go down pretty well.

I don't really have downtimes or hobbies, mainly because I've never had the time. I use a motorbike to get to work, but that's about it. A lot of people in kitchens were into competitive, or physical endurance sports as kids, which is probably helpful for stamina. I was a cyclist as a kid. From a health point of view, I do miss cycling. I still have the bike from when I trained six years ago. But in this industry, you don't tend to find healthy people who go to gyms or have hobbies. That's really for people who have nine to five hours.

If I have an hour in the evening, I like to watch BBC4 documentaries that I've recorded. I'd happily sit and watch six hours of telly, but there's just not that opportunity there. Sandra and I have goals and we know what we have to do to get them.

What I want eventually is a nice balance in life; something that a lot of people take for granted. If the right TV thing came along, I'd look into it, but I find that whole idea of fame, of being recognised in the supermarket, really strange.

I think the industry is full of people - lifers like Sandra and I - that feel like they need to get their shit together. As we exist in a slight parallel universe, it takes us a bit longer to get around to things like marriage, kids and mortgages. Slowly but surely though, we lifers are getting there."



Irish Independent