Hard-hitting RTE documentary series on the lives of chefs

TV chef Mark Moriarty plans to open his own restaurant in Dublin but first there is a third series of Beyond The Menu

Mickael Viljanen and Mark Moriarty. Photograph: Mark Boland

Mickael Viljanen and Mark Moriarty. Photograph: Mark Boland

 

When chef Mickael Viljanen rocked the Irish culinary world earlier this year with the news that he would be moving from The Greenhouse to Chapter One, there was one key member of his kitchen team who did not make the move across the Liffey with him. For sous chef Mark Moriarty, the time was right to move on.

“It was a tough decision, because it’s a huge opportunity. But I’m getting to the point now, I’m 30 at the end of the year, so it was like right, let’s save a little bit of energy now. And when I go at it again, which is going to be next year, I’m going to be doing it for myself,” says Moriarty, a former winner of the San Pellegrino Young Chef global culinary competition, and a Forbes 30 under-30 list nominee in 2017.

Chef Mickael Viljanen: When The Greenhouse chef moved to Chapter One, Mark Moriarty decided to go it alone. Photograph: Mark Moriarty
Chef Mickael Viljanen: When The Greenhouse chef moved to Chapter One, Mark Moriarty decided to go it alone. Photograph: Mark Moriarty

He plans to open a restaurant in Dublin next year. “I’m putting together my business plan for late spring, early summer next year. I’ve been doing all my groundwork over the last three months and visiting places, talking to people.” He has decided on the concept, and will scout locations in the new year. “It would be a brave person who would try to open something between now and Christmas, without seeing how the lay of the land falls early next year.”

Despite being kept busy with his media and marketing commitments – he is a brand ambassador for Diageo, and also works with Marks & Spencer – not being part of the team at Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen has made Moriarty miss the professional kitchen. “I get jealous when I see all the reviews and stuff coming in for Chapter One, because it is such an addictive environment.”

To be honest, I was very fortunate with lockdown. Opportunities that I wouldn’t have had kind of popped up

But, like many in his chosen profession, the lockdowns of the past year and a bit have given Moriarty pause for thought. “Spending time with people and seeing my family for the first time in ages, you kind of get a bit of an awareness of the bigger picture, which has fed into everything I’ve been doing since.”

He spent the first six months of the pandemic in his family’s home in Kerry, with his fiancee Gráinne. “She worked from down there, it was just the two of us. I was commuting from there to do the first Cook In season [his home cooking show with RTÉ]. We got great weather, the 2km limit took us to the end of the beach and back, and, to be honest, it was really nice because I’d been travelling like a madman for two, three years, and also working at The Greenhouse; we were kind of like ships in the night before that.”

Not being in the kitchen, with The Greenhouse closed, gave Moriarty a chance to take on more television work, including two series of Cook In for RTÉ. “To be honest, I was very fortunate with lockdown. Opportunities that I wouldn’t have had kind of popped up.”

Chef turned chocolatier Gráinne Mullins is featured in the new series. Photograph: Katie Machalak
Chef turned chocolatier Gráinne Mullins is featured in the new series. Photograph: Katie Machalak

There was also time to do a third series of Beyond The Menu, a six-part documentary produced by Appetite Media for RTÉ One, which hits screens on October 27th. The chefs featured in what must be the strongest line-up of the series so far are his old boss Mickael Viljanen, and fellow Michelin star holders Ahmet Dede of Dede in Baltimore, Ian Doyle of House restaurant at the Cliff House Hotel and Mike Tweedie of The Oak Room at Adare Manor, along with Jess Murphy of Kai in Galway, and Gráinne Mullins of Grá chocolates in Galway.

For each 30-minute episode of the show, Moriarty spent four days filming with the featured chefs, mostly away from their professional kitchens, to get a sense of the person behind the chef’s jacket, and what makes them so successful in their field. “It’s very different, it’s a bit edgy and it doesn’t shy away from the really bad stuff,” he says.

Ian Doyle, head chef at Michelin-starred House restaurant at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, features in the first episode. “He talks about him bullying, being bullied, people getting smacked and punched around kitchens, his anger problems. He talks about how he has had to adapt and try to build a team without the treatment that he received when he was training,” Moriarty says.

The Mickael Viljanen episode goes behind the scenes in the period leading up to the launch of his much lauded new restaurant in partnership with Ross Lewis. “We’ve showcased the opening of Chapter One from the day he got the keys to the reopening,” Moriarty says. “He doesn’t shy away from the fact that he’s obsessed with food and that leads to sacrifices in other parts of his life. He talks openly about how he’s got four kids, and a wife, and how they feel about it all. He spends 100 hours in the kitchen every week, so there isn’t much else going on in his life. But you get an insight into an artist and an obsessive.”

Michelin star holder Ahmet Dede of Dede in Baltimore with Mark Moriarty. Photograph: Mark Boland
Michelin star holder Ahmet Dede of Dede in Baltimore with Mark Moriarty. Photograph: Mark Boland

Moriarty hopes the series will shine a positive light on the restaurant industry. “It’s about showcasing chefs and what you can achieve and what a great job it actually is and why people do it,” he says. “You can’t be it unless you see it – so it’s about people watching it and going, do you know what, that’s inspiring, I want to be a chef. In the same way that I watched the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay in the noughties and said, that’s what I want to do.”

Beyond The Menu is on RTÉ One, with the first episode at 8.30pm on October 27th

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