“The Roux Scholarship stage has to be the most unique experiences any chef will have in their lifetime.”
In 2010, Kenneth won the competition at the age of 28 and did his stage at Jean Georges in New York.
Kenneth was born in Kerry in the West of Ireland where he grew up on his family’s farm, eating his grandmother’s freshly baked bread and gathering wild mushrooms and berries in the surrounding countryside, which forged an early love of food. It wasn't until much later that he would discover fine dining, eating his first Michelin-starred meal at the age of 22.
After studying science at college, Kenneth decided his heart lay with the culinary arts and went on to study a Dublin BA (Hons) in Culinary Arts at the Dublin Institute of Technology, where he was inspired by his lecturer James Carberry – Roux Scholar 1992. The course helped him understand the complexities of the industry and inspired his decision to cook in Michelin-starred establishments.
Kenneth took the first step towards this goal when he went to work at the two Michelin-starred restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin, under for Chef Guillaume Le Brun who had trained at the three-star Michelin Le Pré Catelan in Paris. It was the first time Kenneth was working in a team surrounded by a team of chefs who had also trained with the most lauded chefs in France. Here, he learned about using premium seasonal ingredients, and about food artistry, perfectionism, precision, discipline, restraint, finesse and all the foundations of the classics of cookery. This experience inspired Kenneth to learn all he could about what it takes to be a chef.
Chef Le Brun, who comes from the Loire region in France, then organised for Kenneth to work with Michelin-starred chef Pascal Bouvier at Le Choiseul in Amboise. Kenneth describes the experience of working in the Loire Valley as 'a period of enlightenment' where he was cooking with vibrant, flavoursome and inspirational seasonal produce sourced from local markets where, twice weekly, all the farmers would make sure that they always presented the finest produce at the given time in each season. This environment instilled in him an even greater respect for nature and working with it.
During his degree in Culinary Arts, Kenneth was student of the year and was granted The David Gumbleton Scholarship, which enabled him to go and work with Chef Tetsuya Wakuda in Sydney. Tetsuya showed Kenneth the Japanese way of analysing produce and art, but as he also used many French classical cooking techniques, Kenneth found the chef's skill in combining both cultures with balance and finesse fascinating. That year, 2005, Tetsuya's Restaurant was named fourth best in the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants.
The year Kenneth won the Roux Scholarship, he was working for Baxter Storey as sous chef at the headquarters of Barclays Bank in Canary Wharf, which gave him a great education in the corporate world of business and management, working within a busy operation (in a building of 8,500 people) providing a bespoke catering service to managing directors in nine dining rooms and a fine dining restaurant with up to 50 covers, bringing the total to 140 covers. The hospitality provision averaged around 200 covers daily with events of up to 200 incorporating working lunches, fork buffets and canapé parties for up to 500 guests.
Fuelled with confidence after winning the Roux Scholarship, Kenneth joined the family-owned and run The Dysart, in Petersham as head chef in July 2012 where he uses his commitment to quality ingredients, to responsible sourcing and concern for tradition. Although Petersham is only 30 minutes from Mayfair, the restaurant is set in a countryside environment, which provides much inspiration, and allows for accessing interesting food producers whose accumulated knowledge and dedication to traditional methods allow them to supply produce with the fullest flavour.
In October 2019, The Dysart was awarded one Michelin star in the 2020 guide.
Kenneth is a member of the Slow Food UK Chef Alliance.
Watch Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr cook the dish Kenneth cooked in the 2010 national final here