Yesterday afternoon, Ray D'Arcy spoke to 44-year-old Declan Horgan, the first Irish (and European) man to feature on Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen.
A Michelin Star trained Executive Chef with over 25 years experience, the Dublin man studied in Cathal Brugha Street and his first position was in the Berkeley Court Hotel. From there, the esteemed chef worked in Marco Pierre Whites in Donnybrook, with Conrad Gallagher in Peacock Alley, and with celebrity chef Dylan McGrath.
"From Cathal Brugha street I went straight into the industry," Declan tells Ray. "I was working in the Berkley Court Hotel, that was my first position, when it was the real five star hotel in Dublin."
It wasn't long before Declan's career lead him to America where he started a consulting service to support and inspire hotel kitchens and catering companies to develop new dishes. This year, he wrote a book called New Irish Chef, and now he is adding another string to his bow by competing on Hell's Kitchen.
Taking place in a working restaurant, the show sees a group of chef's must compete against one another to earn the position of head chef in one of Ramsey's restaurants. Of course, with Ramsey's name above the door, the restaurant they're filming in is incredibly popular and the pressure to impress is at an all time high.
"It was filmed in Vegas so we had limosines of people pulling up who had specifically applied to come and eat in the restaurant [we were filming in]. We had NFL players, and we had some famous musicians as well."
This is the 19th season of the show and over time Ramsay has built a bit of a reputation for himself as someone who will share criticism freely, enthusiastically and colourfully. However, Declan insists that all kitchens are intense and Ramsey's reactions are understandable.
"He's trying to get the best out of you. It's his name on the plate that's going out so if you come into him saying you can do all this but then you start messing up, no wonder he's going to lose his mind at you."
Declan, better known as Big D on the show, says he can't reveal how far he got in the competition but that he definitely made himself known as a big character.
"I'm always representing Ireland," he tells Ray, "I have to keep my mammy happy. I did really well, I can't tell you how far I got but I did really well, and the whole crew loved me just because of my personality."
Big D did so well, in fact, that the show flew his parents out to see him in action.
"That was awesome for them," says Declan. "It was an eye opener for them to see what we do and for them to be on TV as well. My mother says when she watches the show, she gets so stressed she has to go out for a walk," he laughs.
Listen to the full interview with Ray D'Arcy Show on RTÉ Radio 1 below:
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