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“Man, it’s just been really crazy!” Aniar restaurant’s Enda McEvoy looks proud and happy, but also slightly shell-shocked. It’s not simply that he married the mother of his two toddlers last month. Within a fortnight of his nuptials, the small but perfectly formed eaterie of which he’s head chef was awarded Galway’s first-ever Michelin star in the 2013 edition of food bible The Michelin Guide...
Olaf Tyaransen, 19 Oct 2012
Despite rave reviews, that restaurant closed in 2010 when the landlord pulled the plug without warning.
“It was really heartbreaking,” he sighs. “We’d put so much work into it and were really building it up, and then it just closed overnight. Thankfully, Seamus and I are still very, very close, which is great. It was horrible the way things happened. All a learning curve, though.”
Having “fannied about for a while” (including a stint in Denmark), he returned to Galway last year when JP McMahon asked him to work in Aniar.
“When I was asked to work here, I didn’t see any reason to work so many hours if I wasn’t going to be able to do exactly what I wanted to do. So I explained my concept of terroir – basically take everything that’s in this area and put it on a plate.”
The 2013 Michelin Guide states that the restaurant team “offers fairly simple surroundings and focus their attention where it really matters: on excellent quality food.”
“We just use ingredients from the west of Ireland. We can’t use salt because no-one is producing salt. I can’t live without lemons because they have an aroma and acidity that you don’t get with anything else. Pretty much everything else – meat, herbs and veg – is produced locally.”
A softly-spoken and unassuming type (unlike certain other Michelin-starred chefs), McEvoy maintains that humility is an essential quality for high-end cheffing. “You can’t be ego-driven and cook something that’s lovely and delicate and balanced,” he says. “Especially in a small kitchen. You’ve basically got four hours to shine and, within that time, everyone has to have a role. You have to be equidistant from each other; it’s like a maths problem. You have to have eyes in the back of your head, you need to be aware of people around you. And you need to be cool-headed and even-tempered. You can’t lose your mind because then everyone else loses theirs.
“All you’re doing is making food for people and trying to keep yourself happy at the same time,” he continues. “I try to keep that in mind. Because you lose so much – you lose your family time, your health isn’t the best. You’re working night-time hours in a little box with shit ventilation half the time. Once you can keep your head, in a humble sort of way, you’re on to a winner.”