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A Tale Of Two Foodies
The word on the street is that RTÉ has a major hit on its hands with the new cookery competition show, MasterChef Ireland. It features two of the country's leading restauranteurs – the fiery Dylan McGrath of Rustic Stone and the genial Nick Munier of Pichet – who adjudicate on the efforts of 16 aspiring culinary stars. It’s a series in which the sparks are guaranteed to fly – and on occasion the tears to flow.
Olaf Tyaransen, 16 Sep 2011
It’s a very bitchy business generally, so I’m wondering what’s the worst rumour that you’ve heard about each other?
DYLAN: Ah no (laughs). I wouldn’t be very bitchy or insecure about a lot of people. I’ve had everybody and their sister have a go at me since I came home. I don’t really retaliate much. I don’t really care what anyone thinks. Nick’s always been a friend. We’ve always got on. It’s just coincidence that threw us together, that we worked very well on camera together as well. I think the key to that MasterChef Ireland show is that you kind of have that little bit of respect for each other and professionally you get along. We do very well in Rustic Stone, Nick does very well here, and neither of us are competitive, we’re completely supportive of one another. In any way that we could help each other, we would, because of the professional respect, regardless of the TV programme. But the last couple of months we’ve had such a laugh making the show.
Is the shoot all done and dusted?
NICK: Three weeks ago was the last show. I don’t really think of it as a TV show, it’s more of a cooking competition being shown on TV. We didn’t want to contrive it, we wanted it to have a natural progression of its own. Obviously we’re in Ireland, we have to showcase Irish produce, and the talent we saw was very, very good. Dylan always said that it’s all about the influence, so it was very important for us to find that influence, so that people can take a journey and see what they can improve. Everyone can cook at some stage, but it’s about going to the next level. We had to teach them that, so it was very important for us to find the right restaurants in Ireland that could help these amateurs succeed to a certain level. That was the most important part of the process for us.
DYLAN: At the end of the day, anybody that got down to the final 16 could cook. Nick works the front-of-house but obviously still has a strong opinion about food and what he likes, same as myself, so we kind of, quite surprisingly, looked at food quite similarly. When something’s good, it’s good, when it’s not, it’s not. I mean, we had little bones here and there, we had to ask, ‘Do we have faith in this person that they can actually take it in, and adapt really quickly, and get better?’ That was really what you were looking for. And you kind of really rooted for them, you really wanted them to win, you wanted them to succeed, as opposed to just being critical for the sake of criticism. And you know that they’re amateurs so you have to be realistic about it. It’s not looking at it like, “Oh, it’s not three Michelin stars standard!” It’s about these people who came through the door not even really knowing if they were any good, and when you say, “Do you know what, that’s fucking really good!”, you see their confidence build. That was the real joy for us – seeing how good these people were getting so quickly.