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‘I Nearly Drank Myself To Death’ – Richard Corrigan On His Celtic Tiger, Celebrity Fans And Fighting Off Drug Dealers

‘I bear in mind the Connaught lodge in London,” Richard Corrigan says. “It was some fuddy-duddy f**king dump. They’d serve you a bowl of f**king soup for 35 quid. Paddy McKillen introduced it into the twenty first century when he purchased it in 2015. He has completed an incredible job with Claridge’s and The Berkeley too.

These lodges are higher beneath his stewardship than they ever had been beneath anybody else over the past 100 years. The fervour that Paddy has dropped at these locations is world class. He makes the remainder of us as proud as punch.”

“It’s the similar with the Mulryans and what they’ve completed in London too. Sean Mulryan – what a f**king genius…”

The outspoken restaurateur Richard Corrigan, a farmer’s son from Ballivor, Co Meath, hasn’t completed too badly in London both. He gained his first Michelin star in 1995 as head chef of Stephen Bull’s Fulham restaurant. Two years later, he gained one other at his personal restaurant, Lindsay Home, Soho.

He has cooked for Queen Elizabeth twice. “The final time, in 2002, I cooked  risotto to  begin and a venison as the primary course for her in a personal room in Chelsea.” Corrigan has additionally donned the apron for Prince William and his spouse Kate.

“I’m no royalist,” he laughs. “The massive dichotomy of Prince Charles is that he’s colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment. There’s no massive fondness for that in Irish folklore. And the opposite facet of Charles is a large individual behind the entire natural motion in Britain.

“He and Camilla have at all times been charming,” he says, including that Camilla’s son Tom Parker Bowles is an efficient good friend.

He has gained the BBC’s Nice British Menu cookery contest thrice, owns three eating places in London (and a lodge in Cavan) and can open a significant restaurant subsequent April in London. 

“I’m as much as my eyes with designers, builders, for my new place in Hawley Wharf in Camden Basin,” he says. “That entire space of Camden was a little bit of a vacationer gap. Now it has turn out to be one other London hub, like Shoreditch was within the Nineteen Nineties.”

The as but un-named restaurant can have two rooftop areas. “I simply bought designs again from our architects, who constructed Soho Home in Berlin, and they’re wonderful. Now we have about 120 seats on the roof and about 50 exterior on the terrace. We don’t wish to be too up our personal bottoms. It’s all about nice meals – bakery, smokery, craft beers – and it will be one thing actually very particular.”

Regardless of Covid’s impact on the hospitality trade, Corrigan is, he says, “investing within the optimism that London has given me over the past 30 years”.  It’s all a great distance from the lad who used to go poaching when he was 12 together with his father, John. 

“It’s a must to do not forget that within the nation poaching was meals for the desk,” he says now. “We poached to feed ourselves. The few eels and salmon that got here our approach, and the pheasants, hares and rabbits we shot – that was lunch and dinner. It has a very totally different connotation than a gaggle of individuals robbing 40 or 50 salmon out of a river for business acquire, which I’m 100pc in opposition to.”

Richard was 14 when his dad and mom broke the information to him that the farm would go to his older brother. As a substitute, aged 15, he left the close by Nationwide College in Athboy and began as an apprentice chef at an area lodge, earlier than doing an expert cookery course at Dublin Institute of Know-how. He then moved to the Netherlands for 5 years to study his commerce as a chef.

In Amsterdam, over the Easter of 1986, he went on a date with Maria Kelly, who had gone to the convent college in Athboy and was a good friend of his sister Maura. On the time she was working in London as a nurse.


Richard Corrigan together with his spouse Maria in Regent Road, London, in 2013

For the subsequent 18 months, their relationship was an extended distance one between Holland and England. Lastly, Corrigan moved to London and lived in a bedsit in Camden Street. “It was Dickensian,” he says. “The image of that meter for the electrical energy remains to be in my head.” 

He labored as a chef in a lodge in Piccadilly. “The home windows of my kitchen missed Vine Road. And each Friday evening you’d see the cops beating the shit out of the punks,” he remembers. “London was a hostile place then. It wouldn’t have been the friendliest of cities, actually through the Seventies and Eighties [because of the IRA’s bombing campaign], and that solid an enormous shadow over a variety of the Irish dwelling within the UK. I felt the tail finish of that once I got here to London.”

Was he on the receiving finish of anti-Irish feedback? “If anybody dared open their mouth and name me ‘Paddy’, I’d kick them from one finish of f**king Holloway Street to the opposite. I’d put up with no shit.”


In 1988, he and Maria purchased a small home in Crouch Finish in north London, simply earlier than the property crash. 

“We couldn’t have purchased at a worse time. Maria was a scholar nurse. I used to be a younger jobbing chef. By the point we paid our curiosity fee of 16pc – I feel it went as much as 17pc and 18pc for a time – you’d be fortunate to place meals on the desk.”

However his profession was starting to take off. In 1989, he grew to become head chef of the Stephen Bull Restaurant in Blandford Road, Marylebone. At Christmas 1990, Richard and Maria bought engaged and the pair married a 12 months later in Cavan.

In October 1991, the Australian rugby workforce got here into the restaurant for a meal earlier than heading to Dublin for his or her World Cup quarter ultimate sport in opposition to Eire.

“I believed it was my patriotic obligation to maintain them in so long as I might. I used to be filling their glasses with beautiful wine. And once I bought the Jameson into them, I realised that they wouldn’t be working as quick as they might have been in any other case at Lansdowne Street,” he says. 

“I had them completely sozzled, completely sozzled. [Australian winger] David Campese didn’t run far in Dublin on that Saturday. I believed as they left the restaurant: ‘Now kick your ball in Dublin!’”

Did he remorse not throwing one other bottle into them when he noti
ced the results of the sport was Australia 19 to Eire 18? 

“I attempted the whole lot however, in equity,” he says, “they might maintain themselves fairly nicely.”

In 1992, he left the Marylebone restaurant for Mulligan’s, an Irish bar and restaurant in a basement in London’s Cork Road in upmarket Mayfair. Eighteen months later, he went to work as head chef at Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill restaurant in Piccadilly. “The proprietor provided me a beautiful wage. Twice what I used to be on at Mulligan’s.” (A decade later he would purchase it.)

By 1994 he had moved on to Stephen Bull’s new restaurant in Fulham Street. It was right here the place he gained a Michelin star. “It was a beautiful excessive. It was the primary informal good restaurant in London within the Michelin star information. Earlier than that every one the eating places had lots of people wearing black with dickie bows. We went a bit cooler. My meals there was contemporary, seasonal, farm-based mostly. I used to be attempting to make a stronger connection between farming and eating places. That’s what I used to be attempting to do in 1994 and 1995.”

In 1997, he opened Lindsay Home in Soho and of their first 12 months of enterprise, gained one other Michelin star.

It was removed from plain crusing, nonetheless. “Romilly Road was one of many few streets in Soho that was unlit in these days. So, it was the place all of the crack sellers had been. In our first 12 months, I used to have fistfights with the drug sellers till they gave up and moved off and went some other place and stopped hassling our clients.”

Lindsay Home was a 3-storey constructing. Corrigan would spray water from the highest flooring window onto the sellers at work under. “These had been robust instances,” he says, “however we had been robust.”

He was consuming late one evening within the Coach & Horses pub in Soho when he bought speaking to somebody who knew the native Conservative councillor. Utilizing a superb dollop of his Irish appeal, Corrigan persuaded the person to provide him the politician’s house telephone quantity. “And I’d ring him at three within the morning and problem him,” he laughs, “to such an extent that they put the lights on on the street. I used to be unorthodox to say the least.”



Samuel L Jackson seen leaving Richard Corrigan’s Bentleys restaurant in Dublin in 2010

That unorthodoxy paid off as a result of quickly the A-listers had been submitting previous the sellers to get into modern Lindsay Home. Elton John was an everyday buyer from fairly early days. So had been Stephen Fry, Madonna and Sting. “[Sting’s wife] Trudie Styler held her fiftieth birthday there. I didn’t realise how wealthy she was till I noticed how a lot she spent on the flowers. Greater than the meals and wine mixed.”

Within the early 2000s, he cooked “a f**king legendary dinner” for Michael Jackson at a personal home in Knightsbridge, central London. “I cooked him seabass with chickpea truffle. He  got here into the kitchen afterwards to thank me. This was earlier than any of the scandals about baby abuse.”

However by 2006, he had determined in opposition to renewing the lease for Lindsay Home. “I needed to get out of Soho,” he says. “I might have killed myself if I continued on consuming each evening like that. There was a tough-consuming, exhausting-dwelling tradition and I used to be a giant a part of that. I might have drank myself to demise. My bar payments had been greater than my mortgage. There was an expression known as ‘Corrigan-ed’ which was impressed by me.

“It was alcohol and late nights within the Groucho Membership and the whole lot else. I needed to cop on earlier than it was too late.”

Later that 12 months, he went full circle and acquired Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill. This excessive-finish seafood bistro was an immediate success. Samuel L Jackson, U2 supervisor Paul McGuinness, numerous O’Reillys and Smurfits had been regulars. Half of Eire ate there through the Celtic Tiger years, he remembers. American rapper Jay-Z was additionally keen on the meals. “I as soon as despatched fish and chips from Bentley’s out to his non-public jet.” 

In 2008, he opened the flamboyant Corrigan’s Mayfair “because the monetary world was burning. For the primary time in my life I misplaced my bottle. My confidence totally disappeared”.

His nerve held although, and the arrogance returned – and Corrigan’s Mayfair remains to be going robust. “Now we have simply renewed our lease for one more 12 years.”

In 2013, he purchased Virginia Park Lodge in Cavan, an 18th century searching lodge on 100 acres, for €1.2m. It now presents a cookery college, luxurious suites and shepherds huts, and is a well-liked marriage ceremony venue.

In November 2019, he opened one other London restaurant, Daffodil Mulligan, this time in hipster Shoreditch, with a contemporary Irish tackle basic dishes.

The pandemic has been tough for Corrigan, because it has been for each restaurateur. “The center and soul had been knocked out of the Metropolis of London,” he says of the beginning of the pandemic. “Our companies had been closed for 18 months. We opened final October for 2 weeks after which at Christmas for 2 weeks.”

How was he psychologically? “I don’t suppose I’d have the stamina or the power to face the identical factor once more. You will need to perceive after we had been closed we didn’t know after we had been going to open.”

He had time to replicate on the way forward for his trade. “Metropolis centres appear like they’re briefly-time period demise or decline,” he says. And what’s going to London be like this Christmas? “It is going to be nice, however I feel it is going to be cautious, regular-as-we-go, , maintain the ship upright. And hopefully there gained’t be any European-type lockdowns in Londo
n. However, we by no means know what’s going to occur.

“Now we have to maneuver on a technique or one other. We will’t cease for individuals who don’t wish to get an injection. Those that wish to be the anti-vaxxers – f**okay them.

“The federal government laws to guard landlords kicking tenants out remains to be in drive till subsequent March,” Corrigan provides. “When that goes, we are going to see the true extent of the carnage that Covid has precipitated our enterprise.” 

Somebody who fought off Soho drug-sellers is hardly going to be put out by a landlord, I say. “We had been negotiating from month three. We tidied up our affairs from an early stage.”

Fortunately, all his eating places have re-opened with out incident. “Bentley’s had a incredible reopening in Might. It’s an establishment. It has been there for 105 years. Corrigan’s in Mayfair reopened in August. It’s doing nicely. Daffodil Mulligan is buying and selling nicely. It can take greater than a pandemic to see me out.”


Richard Corrigan together with his daughter Jessica and son Richie

He and Maria have three grown-up youngsters and all have adopted their father into the enterprise. Daughter Jess is co-founding father of restaurant PR firm Crab Communications. Richie is the overall supervisor of Daffodil Mulligan. Robbie is learning hospitality.

How was lockdown chez Corrigan?  “Maria was the sanity round the home, the anchor, the rock that retains all of it collectively. I’m a really fortunate man. She goes out to work at 7am within the morning and comes again at 7pm within the night.”

Whereas Maria was working as a physiotherapist with the NHS, Richard, on his personal at house in Muswell Hill, made positive he had a slicing machine, a giant Spanish ham and some good bottles of wine within the cooler.

“I ready the home for Armageddon!” he jokes.

Virginia Park Lodge in Cavan is near the border with the North, so a potential Armageddon courtesy of Brexit is one thing that issues him.

“I get nervous when Frosty will get very frosty,” he says referring to Britain’s Brexit minister, David Frost. “I imply, what a f**ker. He can be on my horrible desk, for a bowl of dish water. Individuals like him speaking about borders is all you want.”


Richard Corrigan pictured on the Viriginia Park Lodge in Cavan in 2019. Image: Arthur Carron

Would he wish to see a united Eire? “The following stage in Eire’s evolution will likely be a united federation. It doesn’t should be the whole lot pointing to Dublin. It is going to be Dublin and Belfast. Loyalists needs to be allowed to be loyalists. There’s room for everybody. We aren’t speaking drive-feeding. This isn’t the foie gras of politics.”

It presumably wasn’t foie gras that Corrigan cooked for Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Kelly – together with Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn – on the first-ever annual Sinn Féin London Dinner in November 2009. “I’ve cooked for lots of political events,” he factors out.

As for the rise of Sinn Féin in Eire, he believes a youthful demographic is searching for change. He feels it’s a part of a wholesome democracy. “When governments keep in energy far too lengthy, just like the Tories within the UK, the whole lot turns into rotten ultimately.”

Corrigan has by no means been afraid to talk his thoughts. Again in 2006, he stated Irish rooster was “shit” and that Irish sausages had been the “worst in Europe”. What does he suppose now?

“Was I improper? I wasn’t improper,” he says. “I used to be on the cash with that one…There was a giant rethink occurring about whether or not we must always have intensive factories, and will meals be as low-cost as it’s. Ought to a rooster be beneath €5? Individuals ought to begin asking questions. Why would you wish to eat a battery rooster? Take into consideration its life. I’m not a vegetarian. I eat meat. I like meat. However I
really need it to return from a tough, moral customary wherever potential.”

The restored kitchen backyard at his Cavan enterprise provides fruit and greens to his eating places. “We’re a plant and farm-based mostly operation. We concentrate on Mom Nature. My meals and my cooking is earthy, pure and simply pure.

“I actually imagine that the pure farm and natural motion has a spot. It’s not a fad. It’s a part of a wider societal view of nature. We have to clear our act up. We must be cautious what we spray, watch out of what we minimize down, watch out of how we do issues. Irish farmers are custodians of the countryside. General, they do a incredible job.”

Simply to be clear, I say, Irish farming has improved? Irish rooster is now not shit and Irish sausages are now not the worst in Europe?

“Now we have made huge enhancements and there are nonetheless enhancements to be made. That will be my extra mature reply to your query.”

So, he eats Irish sausages for breakfast? “I do truly. I’ve a factor for Superquinn sausages. They’re not dangerous in any respect,” he says.



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