The best Irish chefs in London

Ten of the Emerald Isle's finest exports currently cooking in London restaurant kitchens

Updated on 15 March 2019 • Written By Ben McCormack

The best Irish chefs in London

St Patrick’s Day and Riverdance, Jamie Dornan and Saoirse Ronan, Boyzone and W.B. Yeats: the island of Ireland has given us many cultural riches. But while Guinness might be the country’s most famous export, in recent years the Emerald Isle has been shipping something even tastier over the Irish Sea in the shape of some of the best chefs in London. Here we round up 10 of our favourite Irish chefs working in the capital's kitchens.  

Richard Corrigan (pictured above)

Who’s yer man? Chef patron, Bentley’s and Corrigan’s Mayfair 

What’s the story? Has any chef done more to promote the ingredients and cooking of Ireland (as well as the rest of the British Isles) than Dublin-born Richard Corrigan? Raised on a 25-acre farm in County Meath, Corrigan grew up surrounded by food, from the butter and bread, pork and ham, bacon and black pudding that his family produced to the pheasants and wild duck shot on the surrounding land. He took over 103-year-old Bentley’s in 2005 and opened Corrigan’s Mayfair in 2008. Much of the produce at both restaurants comes from his County Cavan estate, Virginia Park Lodge.

Must-order: Bentley’s rooftop smoked salmon

Where’s the craic? Bentley’s, 11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG; Corrigan’s Mayfair, 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7EH

Shauna Froydenlund

Shauna and Mark Froydenlund, chef-patrons of MARCUS

Who’s yer wan? Chef patron, Marcus 

What’s the story? Froydenlund’s cooking got off to a flying start when she was offered a placement with Gordon Ramsay Holdings while still a student at Sheffield Hallam University. But it’s Marcus Wareing rather than Gordon Ramsay who has shaped her career the most. She met Wareing while working at Pétrus and went on to be part of the launch team for Wareing’s The Gilbert Scott before she and her husband Mark (pictured together above) became joint chef patrons of Marcus at Knightsbridge’s Berkeley hotel in 2017. Perhaps it’s no surprise that she’s had such a stellar career: her family work in the restaurant industry in her home town of Derry.

Must-order: Sourdough crumpets with shellfish bisque, dill and shallot essence

Where’s the craic? The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL

Robin Gill

Robin and Sarah Gill

Who’s yer man? Chef patron, Counter Culture, The Dairy and Sorella 

What’s the story? Few chefs are as inextricably linked to a London area as Robin Gill is to Clapham. Together with his wife and fellow Dubliner Sarah (pictured together above), the chef transformed the eating-out reputation of SW4 from rugby lads on pub crawls to a serious foodie destination thanks to The Dairy, The Manor, Counter Culture and Sorella. His restaurants might be casual but Gill has serious foodie chops: he worked at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for four years. The couple’s next project, Darby’s, sees them move away from Clapham but stay in south London, opening up at Embassy Gardens on the river at Vauxhall.

Must-order: Sorella's warm semolina sourdough, served with three fabulous dips

Where’s the craic? Counter Culture, 16 The Pavement, SW4 0HY; The Dairy, 15 The Pavement, SW4 0HY; Sorella, 148 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6BX

Anna Haugh

Chef Anna Haugh of Myrtle restaurant

Who’s yer wan? Chef patron, Myrtle

What’s the story? Dublin-born Haugh earned her chef’s stripes in one of the Irish capital’s best restaurants, l’Ecrivain, before adding some equally impressive London restaurants to her CV in the shape of Pied à Terre, The Square, Gordon Ramsay’s London House and Bob Bob Ricard, where she was head chef until recently. Spring 2019 sees her open her first solo restaurant, Myrtle in Chelsea, where she plans to use as much Irish produce as possible in the likes of slow confit Goatsbridge trout with cauliflower and capers.  

Must-order: We like the sound of Clonakilty black pudding rolls

Where’s the craic? 1A Langton Street, SW10 0JL

Colin Kelly

Picture restaurants' owners Alan Christie, Tom Slegg and Colin Kelly

Who’s yer man? Chef and co-owner of Picture Fitzrovia and Picture Marylebone 

What’s the story? Born in Tullamore, Kelly was inspired to become a chef after seeing Raymond Blanc on TV and worked at Dublin’s l’Ecrivain the year it won a Michelin star. He originally planned to move to London for 12 months to gain more experience; instead, he ended up working as head chef at Anthony Demetre’s Wild Honey for eight years before opening his two Pictures with co-owners Alan Christie and Tom Slegg (pictured above, with Kelly on the right). 

Must-order: Picture Marylebone's two-for-one tasting menu on Friday lunchtimes

Where’s the craic? Picture Fitzrovia, 110 Great Portland Street, W1W 6PQ; Picture Marylebone, 19 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 9TZ

Marguerite Keogh

Chef Marguerite Keogh of The Five Fields

Who’s yer wan? Head chef, The Five Fields 

What’s the story? Another Marcus Wareing alumnus, Keogh worked at Pétrus and then Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley before she teamed up with chef patron Taylor Bonnyman to open The Five Fields in Chelsea in 2013. The restaurant won SquareMeal’s Restaurant of the Year award in 2013 and a Michelin star in 2016 and standards haven’t slipped since. Still, she manages to take time out from her busy schedule to return home to County Clare once a month.

Must-order: Foie gras with beetroot, rainbow carrots and pickled shimeji mushrooms

Where’s the craic? 8-9 Blacklands Terrace, SW3 2SP

Dave McCarthy

Chef Dave McCarthy of Scott's

Who’s yer man? Head chef, Scott’s 

What’s the story? Cork-born McCarthy has worked at some of London’s most famous restaurants of the past 20 years, from the The Fifth Floor at Harvey Nichols with Henry Harris to Caprice Holdings classics The Ivy, J Sheekey and Scott’s, where he’s been head chef since 2009. The Mayfair restaurant’s seafood focus gives him plenty of opportunity to put Irish produce on the menu, not least oysters such as Carlingford rocks.

Must-order: Roasted shellfish for two to share

Where’s the craic? 20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE

Aidan McGee

Chef Aidan McGee of Corrigan's Mayfair

Who’s yer man? Head chef, Corrigan’s Mayfair 

What’s the story? Born in Donegal and trained in Galway’s award-winning O’Grady’s on The Pier, McGee’s career in high-end London restaurants included Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Launceston Place before he found short-lived fame for his Sunday roasts at the much-missed Truscott Arms in Maida Vale. Now he’s settled down at Corrigan’s Mayfair with kindred spirit Richard Corrigan, who shares his passion for sourcing the finest Irish produce.

Must-order: 21 day-Tipperary beef tartare with crispy shallots and nasturtium oil

Where’s the craic? 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7EH

Colin McSherry

Chef Colin McSherry of Gridiron

Who’s yer man? Headchef, Gridiron

What’s the story? Having worked for Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck and Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental, McSherry went back to his County Down roots as head chef of Nuala, the modern Irish restaurant that caused a splash when it opened by the Old Street roundabout in 2018. Now he’s back in a swish hotel again, working with Richard Turner (of Blacklock and Hawksmoor fame) at Gridiron, a grill room on the old Met Bar site in Park Lane’s Como Metropolitan hotel.   

Must-order: Barnsley hogget chops

Where’s the craic? Como Metropolitan London, 19 Old Park Lane, W1K 1LB

Clare Smyth

Chef Clare Smyth of Core

Who’s yer wan? Chef patron, Core by Clare Smyth 

What’s the story? Smyth’s upbringing on a farm in County Antrim (“we had potatoes every day”) instilled in her a love of British ingredients that has led to one of the most successful careers in London chefdom. For 10 years she was head chef and then chef-patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, where she was the only UK female chef ever to hold three Michelin stars; since opening her first solo restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth, in 2017, the plaudits haven’t stopped. In 2018, Core went straight into the Michelin guide with two stars and won SquareMeal’s Restaurant of the Year Award while Smyth was named the World’s Best Female Chef and catered for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Must-order: Carrot with braised lamb and sheep’s milk yoghurt

Where’s the craic? 92 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 2PN

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