A shameless expose for a rapidly rising star in the culinary world.
Mr Gary O'Hanlon.
I first met Gary back in 2004 when my sister and I visited my brother Andrew who was living in Boston at the time. Andrew was living the high life as a bachelor with Mr O'Hanlon. We heard lots of tales about his Irish chef de roomate and how he was slowly wooing my brothers parochial palate with herbs and spices and dare I say it...vegetables???
We were also given my brother's very bad Father Ted meets Roy Walker impersonation of Gary so we knew what we were letting ourselves in for.
A favourite Garyism notably being:
"Heeeeearr. Seeee. Let me breek it doon far ya. Raillll railll kwikkkk"
Now anyone who can move my Brother on a level from Chicken Tonight Tikka Masala mix and his infamous abuse of Dolmio stir in sauces has to have made some sort of impression.
It was not long before Andrew and wee Gazza as we like to call him, spent many an evening sat on the bed together waxing lyrically over new menu ideas. Very Brokeback. Knowing my brother and his flair and imagination it would have been adding some kind of cheese or perhaps a barbecue sauce of some sort to the pan.
Meeting Gary was a true highlight to my trip to the East Coast as my sister and I were taken on an all expenses (free!!) meal at the restaurant he was working at the time, Devlin's.
A showman and perfectionist in every sense, Gary executed 7 delicious courses, notably in my memory a Curried Coconut and Parsnip soup with Mussels that looked like the stones we used to skim with as children. Sheer heaven.
We still talk about that meal to this day and I do believe this dish made my brother and sister fall in love with Mussels.
Since his days tearing up Boston, Gary has returned to his beloved Ireland where he is now in his rightful place in charge of the kitchen in the VM Restaurant at Viewmount Country House in Longford.
Since taking over, Gary has revolutionised the menu with his own unique and Willy Wonka style approach. Each dish represents passion and identity and read like a children's story, full of colour, energy and character. Thanks to Mr O'Hanlon, Viewmount Country House is now in the Bridgestone 100 Best Places to Stay and on of the 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland.
Not too shabby for a Red.
His menu inspiration is always an eclectic blend of the finest produce that Ireland has to offer, yet his American influences still bubble under the surface.
I am yet to sample the delights of Viewmount House, however I am planning a visit very soon.
I have promised Gary a very fair review....of course and he has even upped it onto my sound list.
Cheers wee Gazza!