The third episode of Beyond The Menu, Mark Moriarty's new television show, aired on RTÉ last night, which saw the young chef travel to West Cork to spend time with Rob Krawczyk, head chef at Michelin-starred Restaurant Chestnut.
The first episode in this new six-part documentary saw Mark take a look behind the scenes at Pilgrim's in West Cork. Last week, Mark visited Clanbrassil House in Portobello to find out more about one of the country's youngest head chefs, Grainne O'Keefe.
Last night, in the series' third episode, we saw Mark journey back to West Cork to visit Rob Krawczyk from Restaurant Chestnut in Ballydehob. It was clear from the get-go that Rob and Mark had spent time together before because, as with Grainne in last week's episode, there was an easy camaraderie between the pair and a general understanding of each other's careers.
We started out with a tour of Restaurant Chestnut, which only opened last year, but was awarded a Michelin star within six months of its debut. Talking to Mark about the accolade and how it has affected his business, Rob admits that it was a surreal experience to be recognised by Michelin in such a short space of time. It's really refreshing to hear Rob and his partner, in life and business, Elaine talk about how they're trying to create a work-life balance, while also running one of the best restaurants in the country. It's no easy feat to try balance the two, but it seems that the pair have it figured out, retreating to the beach when they need some space from the pressure of Restaurant Chestnut.
We've heard a lot of famous chefs talk about how wonderful it is to be recognised by Michelin, often prefaced with a small mention of the pressures associated with such awards, but not many go into the details of how it affects themselves, their families and their business. When chatting to Mark and the camera about winning a Michelin star, Rob was incredibly honest, admitting it has kept him up at night, that he and Elaine have put their heart and souls into the business and that it is stressful to keep it all together.
Ireland is struggling through a serious chef shortage right now and it is these pressures that are contributing to the problem, so it is unbelievably raw and real to see one of Ireland's best chefs openly admit that it is a lot of pressure. While Rob has always seemed like a fantastic chef and lovely person, his openness and honesty with Mark really endeared him to us.
Throughout the programme, we were introduced to Rob's vegetable supplier, which seemed to cause some sort of revelation in Mark. It was clear that he hadn't really experienced this type of farm-to-table before and the idea of it sparked something in him, so keep an eye out for what Mark does next - he could very well end up opening a similar restaurant soon!
The episode closed with a pop-up that highlighted local produce and inventiveness. The guests, which included Rob's parents, were all suitably impressed, noting how delicious and unique the food was. The episode really highlighted Rob's demeanour as both a chef and a person; he really adores food and his lifestyle and is striving to make the best of both. He is easily one of the best chefs in Ireland right now and we can't wait to see what's next for Rob and Restaurant Chestnut.
Tune in next week for our recap of Beyond The Menu episode four.