How I Got Here: Richard O'Connell

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Richard O'Connell Tom's Kitchen

Related tags: Chefs, Tom aikens

Born and trained in rural Ireland, Richard O'Connell came to England in 1992 and has cooked for a string of top chefs. He currently oversees the food at Tom's Kitchen as executive chef.

Why restaurants?
I love everything about restaurants – the food, the people, the sociability, the buzz of service. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
To plan my career path with more of a specific approach. Coming to the UK earlier would also have been a priority for me.

What do you do in your spare time?
I have two kids, so I don’t have a lot. However, fishing is a real passion of mine.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
I like Caravan a lot. It's trendy, the food is current and the atmosphere very relaxed.  

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
I have no idea, maybe something else food and customer focused.

What motivates you?
Other great chefs and other passionate people. I also love to help people come together, making connections and watching relationships flourish is very rewarding.

Where was your last holiday?
I went to the west coast of France. The waves over there are amazing along with the beaches.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Dylan Murray at Pickle Consultancy. I have worked with this man all my life and his knowledge of the industry is second to none. He values chefs’ challenges so working alongside him has always been a pleasure.

What keeps you up at night?
Either food or thinking about what’s next in my future.

Worst business decision?
Not selling my restaurant in Cockfosters when it was at its best.

Best business decision?
Working for ETM and Tom’s Kitchen - the experiences are very different but irreplaceable.  

What are you reading at the moment?
A book all about cooking with fat.  

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Understand how your business works, cook for your clients and not your Instagram account. Work with your bosses to achieve what they want and don’t take on too much.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be​?
TripAdvisor, ban it, it’s a customer tool for blackmail. We work in a very unforgiving industry and now this power of site reviewing is giving people a very easy way of taking advantage.


1972 Born in Limerick 
Studied in Galway RTC Technical College
1996 - 1998 Chef de Partie, The Landmark Hotel
1998 - 2005 Head Chef, One Aldwych Hotel
2005 - 2009 Chef Director, Dylan’s Ltd & Modern Pub Dining
2009 - 2011 Head Chef, The Groucho Club
2011 - 2014 Head Chef/Executive Chef , ETM Group 
2014 - Present Executive Chef, Tom's Kitchen

Related topics: People, Restaurant, Profiles, Chef

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