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ground breaker Irish chef Anna Haugh Anna Haugh on working for Gordon Ramsay and opening her own restaurant

Chef open up on her London restaurant, working with Gordon Ramsay, and why she sought to change the hot-headed culture of kitchens


Anna Haugh.

Anna Haugh.

Anna Haugh.

IT was a male-dominated world that denied women the right to hold leadership roles for so many years, yet Irish chef Anna Haugh is on a mission to re-write the restaurant rulebook.

Snapshots of top chefs screaming abuse at their staff in a manner that would not be tolerated in most modern business settings have been exploding out of our TV sets for years and that has long been the norm in high-class restaurants.

The world’s leading eateries was led by menacing, angry male dictators when Anna stepped away from her Tallaght home to start on the path that has taken her to remarkable heights.

Having worked at some of the top restaurants and for some of the most famous chefs including Derry Clarke, Philip Howard, Shane Osborne and the notoriously volatile Gordon Ramsey, Haugh is now living the dream after opening her own Myrtle restaurant in the plush London enclave of Chelsea.

This award-winning culinary queen has also become a TV star in the UK appearing on BBC shows Ready Steady Cook, Saturday Kitchen and Masterchef and amid her stunning success, Anna has also recently become a Mum to little Oisín with partner Richard Elwell.

As she sat down for an interview with Magazine+, it was clear that this chef is achieving the high standards she has always set herself using very different methods to many in her lofty position.“There was a lot of macho behaviour when I started in this business and when it came to opening my own restaurant, I wanted to do it differently,” she began.

“Having worked in some hardcore kitchens, I looked at how they did it and decided I wanted to run my restaurant with different rules.

“That means removing this nonsense of losing your temper and allowing the red midst to descend. You make bad decisions when you lose your focus and I saw that so many times, but it doesn’t need to be like that to have a successful business.

“The first big restaurant I worked in was L’Ecrivain in Dublin and it was an amazing kitchen. It was 50 percent women and all the senior chefs were women, aside from head chef Derry Clarke.

“So I had been in a restaurant where women were the leaders and when I went on to the other jobs and there were no women in senior positions, it was strange to me. I was like the dancing money, the novelty female chef.

“People just assumed you would not be good enough to work in a top restaurant because you were a woman.

“To be a head chef, you needed to show you are powerful and the perception was women couldn’t do it.

“Well, I proved I could do the job and when I started my own restaurant, I wanted things to be done differently. You can demand high standards without screaming at people. That’s how I do it.”

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Anna’s experiences working for Gordon Ramsay put her in the firing line of one of the most notorious cooking hot-heads, but she reflects on her time at his London House restaurant in Battersea with fond memories.


Anna Haugh with Gordon Ramsay.

Anna Haugh with Gordon Ramsay.

Anna Haugh with Gordon Ramsay.

“I know a lot of the other chefs who got hammered by him, but not for one day did I have a problem with Ramsey,” she reflects.

“By the time I got the job in his restaurant, we spoke the same language, the language of cooking and I have to say, he was good to work for.

“I found him logical, very reasonable, he’s got a great pallet and when we went through the tastings together, he didn’t waste time. Chefs don’t want long meetings, they want to cook and that’s why it was good working with Ramsey.

“Some of the other chefs I worked for were crazy and the first was Derry Clarke at L’Ecrivain in Dublin. I don’t know what he’s like now, but 20 years ago he was wild.

“All these guys demand results. They want you to say you will do something and for it to happen quickly. It is an unforgiving world working for them.”

Anna’s sumptuous Chelsea restaurant if offering a luxurious slice of Ireland to London’s more delicate pallets, but she admits the prospect of calling Myrtle an Irish eatery was a step too far.

“I have a menu that I wrote 15 years ago, an Irish menu, and I always dreamed of having an high-class Irish restaurant,” she adds.

“It just doesn’t exist over in the UK, so I was wary of calling it an Irish restaurant when I opened. We said it was a modern European restaurant with an Irish influence, but everyone just called it an Irish restaurant.

“The cutlery is from Newbridge, the plates are from Brookwood Pottery, we have Galway crystal for the champagne goblets, the music is Irish and we get amazing produce from Ireland for the dishes.

“I’m really proud of it the experience we have as it is a celebration of Irish culture. It’s real, it’s not a plastic display and there is so much more to come as we come out of this challenging period of Covid.”

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