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Chef Conrad to serve up tale of his time in US jail

CELEBRITY chef Conrad Gallagher is planning a tell-all book to reveal his experiences while banged up in a New York prison.

The award-winning chef is cooking up a stormer of an autobiography, detailing his bankruptcy in South Africa, winning two Michelin stars by the age of 27 and being arrested in his restaurant in New York.

In 2003 Gallagher was extradited from America to Dublin to stand trial for the alleged theft of three Felim Egan paintings worth €10,900.


But the restaurateur was later found not guilty.

"They were my paintings from the beginning; that was proven by a judge and jury," he said. "It's well documented.

"There was a nice prison diary kept for that period. But I'm going to save all that for the book."

Donegal-born Gallagher left Ireland to start up a new company in South Africa but insists he didn't leave to escape debts.

"I don't think I fled at all," he said. "There were very little prospects for me at that time.

"I clearly had to close the business down and as a result there was nobody queuing up to offer different things to me. I had to go away and start again and build up my resources."

The chef, who invested in property, restaurant and cafe enterprises in South Africa was declared bankrupt in the country and admits that he lost "seven years of hard work and a couple of successful businesses there. It was a property business -- I lost more than a few bob, a shirt and tail," he said.

"I guess I was caught up in personal guarantees and my restaurant and cafe business was dragged into that." He was speaking on John Murray's new show on RTE 1 radio.

Upon his return the dad-of-two, who is married to Candice, opened Salon des Saveurs on Aungier Street, Dublin.


But from the opening night, customers were told that they could only pay cash. "We don't do credit cards, we pay COD to suppliers," he said. "The customers pay cash, I pay cash.

"It was a combination of a little bit of red tape at the beginning as to getting credit card facilities because it was a new business and the previous history of me as a director," he added. "I got to a stage when I just said 'that's fine'."