Monday 21 January 2019

Margaret named McKenna Guide's Chef of the Year

Margaret Roche from Knockananna, who is the Head Chef at Dublin restaurant Hugo’s
Margaret Roche from Knockananna, who is the Head Chef at Dublin restaurant Hugo’s

Deborah Coleman

The new year got off to a great start for Knockananna native Margaret Roche who was named Chef of the Year in the McKennas' Guide annual awards.

Head Chef at top Dublin restaurant Hugo's, Margaret is just 29 years old but is already at the top of her game, having worked in a number of prestigious establishments including the Merrion in Dublin and the 3-Michelin starred Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire.

Her cooking has been praised for its ability to make 'every dish feel modern, contemporary and Irish, despite the deep historical background'.

'I found out on New Year's Eve and I was really delighted. It is amazing to get the acknowledgement,' Margaret said. 'John and Sally McKenna had a meal in the restaurant and reviewed it recently and but I didn't realise that I was in the running for the award.'

The McKennas' Guide awards are published every on New Year's Eve and declared the Knockananna lady to be the top chef in the country.

'We are delighted to see Margaret successful. She's a brilliant chef and I know Hugo's have won a number of accolades this year,' said Sally McKenna.

Since Margaret graduated with a degree from DIT, she has worked with some inspiring chefs who, she says, have encouraged her greatly.

Taking on the Head Chef title in Hugo's at the age of 27 was no mean feat.

'It was daunting in the beginning. Before that, I was always supported by a head chef and had someone to ask for guidance and who would lead the team. Now that person is me and it's important to make sure that everyone has that same support and that I can help them if they come to me. The team at Hugo's are a big part of this award for me. 2017 was a great year at the restaurant but it's time to push ahead now and to move forward for the coming year and do even better,' Margaret said.

Her talents don't end there however, as Margaret has been making regular appearance on the Today with Maura and Daithi.

'I was lucky because I was asked to go for audition when someone was sick and unable to appear. I went in and even though I thought it was a disaster, they must have seen something and they offered me the opportunity. It's completely different to being in a restaurant setting but it is great craic and I really enjoy it.'

When she's not hard at work, Margaret enjoys catching up with family and friends in Knockananna as much as possible and still plays camogie with her local club. She was a member of the senior camogie team which won the Wicklow Senior Camogie title for the past two years.

Since the news of her award broke, she has been overwhelmed by the support of the community and her family and friends in south Wicklow.

Margaret will be appearing on the Today with Maura and Daithi show again today (Wednesday, January 10) and on Monday, January 22.

Wicklow People