Sunday 20 May 2018

Meet Wexford's Michelin man!

Padraig Byrne

A COUNTY Wexford man has earned his place among the culinary greats as the restaurant in which he is executive chef was awarded a prestigious Michelin star.

Cormac Rowe, son of Peter and Bernie Rowe from Bridgetown, has been working in the Lady Helen Restaurant at Mount Juliet for the past seven years, three of which have been in the role of executive chef. Throughout that time he has committed himself to producing the highest quality food to an international standard, something which has finally been recognised with the Michelin star.

'To be honest, I don't think it's really sunk in completely yet,' said Cormac. 'I'm still kind of in shock, but it's amazing.'

The Michelin star has become the internationally recognised symbol for fine dining and the process to be awarded one is quite long. 'First you have to apply to join the Michelin guide,' said Cormac. 'Then they monitor and grade your restaurant over the period of around two years.

'During that time there is a couple of surprise inspections which they are notoriously secretive about, so there's no way of knowing when they will happen or who the inspectors will be. After that you're either judged to be good enough or you're not, and thankfully we were.'

The Lady Helen Restaurant enjoys panoramic views over the Mount Juliet Estate and the River Nore and already boasts three AA rosettes and managed to win 'Best Hotel Restaurant' in the Restaurant Association of Ireland Awards earlier this year. However, a Michelin star is a step above in terms of exposure and everyone at the restaurant is expecting to be very busy in the coming weeks and months. 'The exposure it gets you is amazing,' Cormac said. 'Basically you become a part of this international marketing system. The publicity is fantastic.'

It is the dream of every chef starting out to earn a Michelin star, and few make the grade, however Cormac is delighted to become possibly one of the first Wexford men to earn the award, along with his hard working team. 'We've all put in a lot of hard work to get to this point,' he said. 'When I took over as executive chef three years ago I got a great team together and we've been working to reach a very high standard ever since.

'Thankfully that has now been recognised in the form of a Michelin star.'

Gorey Guardian