• Cyril McAree

Ross Lewis Honoured By Chef Network For His Leadership In The Chef Profession

Ross Lewis of Chapter One Restaurant was honoured by Chef Network for his exemplary leadership skills and positive contribution to the chef profession at their Kitchen Culture Symposium at the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin on the 19th of November.

This was the third annual Kitchen Culture symposium which saw those in the hospitality and foodservice industry join chefs in taking positive action to improve the industry and promote the chef profession, with a key focus on leadership, paying homage to those who are doing outstanding work.

Ruth Hegarty, head of community at Chef Network, said, “There are so many misconceptions about chefs and about this industry that we need to dispel. One of the best ways we can do this is to highlight the incredible role models we have in this profession and I can’t think of anyone who typifies this more than Ross Lewis. Ross really is an exemplary leader; a highly skilled chef with a deep understanding of food, but also someone who could have excelled in any sector due to his business and leadership skills and his power to influence. Ross has not only been a mentor for many chefs, nurturing the next generation of Irish food talent who have gone on to do great things, he has been a powerful force in the development of Irish food over the past 20 years and his influence will continue to be felt for a long time to come”.

Ross originally studied for a degree in Dairy Science at University College Cork, but after his first experience working in kitchens while on a student visa in the United States, he developed a passion for cooking and moved to London to learn the trade. Three years after returning to Ireland, Ross opened Chapter One in 1993 with Martin Corbett in Dublin’s Parnell Square. Chapter One won a Michelin Star in 2007 and has retained it every year since. He opened a second restaurant, Osteria Lucio, in 2016. Many outstanding chefs have spent time under Ross’ tutelage, with Michelin Star chefs Garrett Byrne (Campagne, Kilkenny), Ahmet Dede (Mews, Cork), and Damien Grey (Liath, Dublin) all being alumni of Chapter One. These chefs and others paid tribute to Ross at the event.

Eric Matthews, head chef at Chapter One, paid homage to Ross in a video which was played on the night. He said, “Many chefs have gone on to do great things after working at Chapter One and for just that reason. Ross is an incredibly charismatic person who knows how to get the best out of a person, how to encourage people. I have had the pleasure of being Ross’ head chef for about five years now, and having Ross as my mentor has been an absolutely incredible experience. He leads by example and he has helped me learn how to lead a team; the way you talk to people, the way you nurture talent”.

Damian Grey of Liath Restaurant, Cathal Leonard of Potager Restaurant, Peter Byrne of Hugo’s Restaurant and Darren Hogarty, Pastry Chef at Chapter One (who has worked with Ross for 14 years) also spoke about their experience of being mentored by Ross and its impact on their career. Ahmet Dede of Michelin Starred Mews Restaurant in Cork sent a video from Turkey, where he is currently at home visiting family, speaking of the immense influence Ross Lewis has had on his career and on Irish food. He spoke of starting his career in Chapter One in 2010, the first place he worked in Ireland and his first experience as a cook. Eight years later he won a Michelin Star in his own restaurant.

The Kitchen Culture symposium was focused on the topic of ‘How to be a positive leader’ and, prior to being surprised with this honour, Ross Lewis spoke on this topic alongside chefs Paula Stakelum of Ashford Castle, Laura Dent of Gather & Gather, and Tom Flavin of the Limerick Strand Hotel.

The event also saw the launch of Chef Network’s new training and upskilling initiative, the Stage Listing supported by Nespresso Professional. This is the next step in their initiatives to create positive ‘Kitchen Culture’, with an emphasis on promoting learning and development in kitchens and collaboration and openness across the profession. Participating kitchens will be signed up to Chef Network’s Kitchen Workplace Charter, which was developed by network members last year.

Working to create a more positive learning environment for the community, the project aims to establish contact between kitchens and chefs eager to learn. The listing will be hosted on the Chef Network website and allows chefs currently working in the industry, as well as student chefs, the opportunity to easily see which kitchens across Ireland are open to accepting stages, while also providing a platform to connect with them and begin training.

Over 20 kitchens across the country have already signed up to the Stage Listing including Ashford Castle, Aniar Restaurant and One Pico Restaurant. The listing is open to establishments who wish to offer stage opportunities to other chefs, and available to chefs looking for training experience opportunities.

Ludovic Lantier of Butler’s Pantry, Glen Wheeler of 28 Darling Street, and Annette Sweeney of TU Dublin - Tallaght Campus spoke about the value of hosting and taking part in stages from the perspective of employers, chefs and educators.

The symposium was followed by an end of year celebratory social event with a food and drink reception by Sunil Ghai of Pickle and Irek Traskowski of the Ballsbridge Hotel and dessert by Le Patissier.

Chef Network is Ireland’s professional chef community which represents over 3,700 chefs across the island of Ireland. Chefs can sign up for free at www.chefnetwork.ie and gain access to an online community where they can ask for advice, find and post jobs, and read blogs from other chefs on topics such as wellness, sourcing sustainably, experiences travelling and working abroad, and more.

Keep up to date with the latest news by following Chef Network on social @ChefNetworkIRL.

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