Max Rocha, the 32-year-old chef and son of fashion designer John Rocha, is one of five new entries to the 2022 Murphia List, an annual compilation of the top performing Irish industry figures in London's food and drink scene, published by the hospitality website Hot Dinners. He is joined in the line up by hotelier and developer Paddy McKillen; executive pastry chef Niamh Larkin; bakery owner Dee Rettali, and speciality coffee shop founder James Hennebry.
The new additions bring to 55 the number of entries on the list, which also includes well known personalities including Ballivor-born restaurateur and chef Richard Corrigan, whose plans for 2022 include opening a new restaurant in Camden; Tallagh chef Anna Haugh, who combines TV presenting (Saturday Kitchen and Ready, Steady, Cook) with running her Chelsea restaurant, Myrtle, and Robin and Sarah Gill, who have restaurants and bars across London and whose next opening will be a wine bar in Brixton.
Rocha, who was born in Dublin, opened Café Cecilia in Hackney last August, having worked as a chef at The River Cafe, St John Bread & Wine and Spring. The restaurant, which is named after his paternal grandmother, was an immediate hit with the critics. Before opening Café Cecilia, he specialised in catering for art and fashion shoots, with a client list that includes Gucci, Balenciaga, Margaret Howell, and his sister, the designer Simone Rocha. He says his “greatest inspiration comes from growing up in Ireland” and that his food is influenced by the cooking of his mum, Odette.
Niamh Larkin, who grew up on a dairy farm in Limerick, is executive pastry chef at 45 Park Lane, part of the Dorchester Collection of hotels. Her first kitchen job was at the Dunraven Arms in Adare, and she has risen through the ranks to head the pastry kitchen at this five-star property, which has an outpost of CUT, the steak restaurant brand originally developed by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck in Beverly Hills.
Dee Rettali was born in north Cork, but has lived in London since the 1980s. She founded Patisserie Organic in 1998, and opened Fortitude Bakehouse, in Bloomsbury, in 2018. Her first book, Baking with Fortitude, published last October, has been shortlisted for the André Simon awards.
Kilkenny-born James Hennebry moved on from a career in the music industry to carve a niche in the speciality coffee world. He honed his craft in Melbourne and returned to London to work for Caravan Coffee Roasters. In 2018 he co-founded Rosslyn Coffee in the City of London with his business partner Mat Russell. Last week the Financial Times included Rosslyn as the only UK entry in a list of the Best Independent Coffee Shops in the World. Coffeewerk+Press in Galway were also included in the global compilation. Rosslyn will soon open a third outlet in London.
Paddy McKillen of The Maybourne Group also makes the 2022 Murphia List. The Belfast-born property developer and hotelier’s portfolio includes London hospitality landmarks, Claridges, The Berkeley and The Connaught. According to the Murphia List citation, the trio extended hospitality beyond their front doors during the pandemic. “The hotels led the way when it came to showing support for the city’s frontline workers.” Leading French pastry chef Cédric Grolet recently opened his first patisserie outside of France at The Berkeley.
The Murphia List, sponsored by Bord Bia, is in its eighth year and is produced by Hot Dinners, the London food and restaurant website founded in 2009 by Irish-born siblings Gavin and Catherine Hanly.
NEW: Max Rocha, Cafe Cecilia
NEW: Niamh Larkin, 45 Park Lane
Kenneth Culhane, The Dysart
Nick Fitzgerald, Tacos Padre
Fiona Hannon, Bentley's
Anna Haugh, Myrtle
Colin Kelly, The Twenty Two
Marguerite Keogh, The Five Fields
Dave McCarthy, Scott's
Patrick Powell, Allegra
Clare Smyth MBE, Core by Clare Smyth
Sinead Campbell, Bong Bong's Manila Kanteen
Richard Corrigan, Corrigan Collection
John Devitt, Koya
Garrett Fitzgerald, Butchies
Robin and Sarah Gill, Various
Brian Hannon, Various
John King, Bowling Bird
David Moore, Pied a Terre
John Nugent, Green & Fortune
Ciara O'Shea and Ken Nally, F Mondays
Oliver Peyton, Peyton & Byrne
Mark and Alan Wogan, Homeslice
Pubs, bars and cafes
Gearoid Devaney, Black Book
Cormac Gibney, Gibney's
NEW: James Hennebry, Rosslyn Coffee
Joseph Ryan, Cellar Boys Brewery
Aaron Wall and Ciarán Smith, Homeboy
Front of House
Richie Corrigan, Daffodil Mulligan
Conor Daly, The George
Fergal Lee, The Wolseley - general manager
Shane McHugh, Goodman - head sommelier
Alex Muir, Sketch
Oisin Rogers, The Guinea Grill and The Windmill
Joe Warwick, Sola
Jessica Corrigan, Crab Communications
Diana Henry, food writer and broadcaster
Niamh Shields, Eat like a girl
Behind the scenes
Molly Hutchinson, MIAM Management and Meatopia
Fiona Leahy, Fiona Leahy Designs
Sinead Mallozzi, sketch
NEW: Paddy McKillen, Maybourne Group
Producers and retailers
James Goggin, Empirical
Simon Lamont and Phil Coulter, Rocks Oysters
Evin O'Riordain, The Kernel Brewery
Darragh O'Shea, O'Shea's Butchers
Steve Ryan, 40FT Brewery
NEW: Dee Rettali, Fortitude Bakery
Conor Bartley, The Bottle Cocktail Shop
Aaron Flynn, New Lounge Manager at Claridge's