Conrad Gallagher, Donegal’s celebrity chef came back for second helpings to “his most favourite hotel in the country” to celebrate his landmark 40th birthday at the Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel outside Donegal Town.
The occasion attracted much less fanfare than the personable Gallagher is used to - strictly on his own instructions as this was an occasion that Conrad wanted to share with his wife Candice and two children and close family and friends.
In the past the Donegal man couldn’t sneeze without the gossip columnists and social diarists writing paragraphs on what type of tissues he puts to his face. But now the mature Gallagher of 40 years is much more focused on his family and operating his successful businesses.
He told the Donegal Democrat/Peoples Press, “This is the main reason I came here to celebrate my birthday apart from the fact that it is one of my all - time favourite hotels.
“We can all relax and just simply do nothing at all taking in some of the great scenery and tranquillity of the surrounding Bluestacks.
“It really offers a great break to Candice and the two kids who can wander through the really beautiful grounds and woods around the castle. Tonight’s party is just a quiet affair for the family and some of my closer friends - so far the weekend has been great and would have been better if only Ireland could have snatched that last minute try.”
Gallagher, from Letterkenny, has been cooking since he was 12 years old.
A few years after training with top chefs in Ireland (and winning four medals at Hotel Olympia and Chef Ireland), he upped his roots to New York where he honed his craft at the Plaza Hotel, before moving on to the Waldorf Astoria’s Peacock Alley restaurant – a name he would later borrow for his landmark Dublin eatery – and then Restaurant Daniel and the Park Avenue Cafe.
He then hit Monte Carlo, wworking at the celebrated Louis XV at Hotel de Paris. By the time he was 27, back in Dublin, he had two Michelin stars under his apron, and was being lauded simultaneously as the saviour of and the sole momentum behind new Irish cuisine.
Conrad is a very busy man equally dividing his time two very successful restaurants - the Salon des Saveurs in Dublin and Conrad’s Kitchen in Sligo. Located at The Model arts centre in Sligo town, presently the home to the extremely popular Jack B Yeats exhibition, the restaurant features some of the 40-year-old’s signature dishes and is a popular haunt for many Donegal gourmands who enjoy great food at even greater value.