My name is Kenneth O’ Neill and I 'm the head chef/owner, with my wife Trisha, of O’ Neills Bistro, Thomastown, Golden, Co. Tipperary.
I have been working in and around kitchens since I was 13 years old (Aherlow House Hotel 1997-2008). I come from a family of chefs (3 brothers, uncle and father). My father worked in some of the most prestigious hotels in London in the 1960’s and 70’s. He returned to Ireland in 1978 and became the head chef of Aherlow House Hotel for over 30 years, which is where I started working on weekends, school holidays and summer holidays as a kitchen porter. Aherlow House Hotel was where I learned my craft under my father’s supervision.
I qualified as a chef in 2007 with a distinction from Limerick Institute of Technology, winning student of the year in 1st and 2nd year and picked to represent the institute at the national apprenticeship culinary competition in Dublin, a four day cooking event featuring all of the institutes in Ireland placing 2nd.
I started working in the Wytchway Inn in Thurles in 2008 after leaving Aherlow House with the position as sous chef, gaining the position as Head Chef after 11 months at the tender age of 24. I left the Wytchway Inn in 2012; it was a great learning experience for me but I was always destined to run my own restaurant.
An opportunity presented itself late 2012; Lily mai’s restaurant in Thomastown was up for lease so I jumped straight in without much thought. It was once a thriving restaurant but with the recession, and other business opportunities’, the owners decided to lease the restaurant to me. I knew it was going to be tough; luckily I love a challenge!
To describe the restaurant would be smart/casual, very informal service, comfortable country setting, Irish ingredients, local suppliers, seasonal menu changes, classic food combinations with a modern contemporary twist on all of our dishes, whilst creating a nostalgic experience for all of our dinner guests. We also try to utilise as much as the animal, bird, vegetable as we can as you have the respect your ingredients. If you are good to your ingredients, they will be good to you.
We have been nominated for many awards and this year we were named as one of the 12 best restaurant’s in Munster by AVIS. I do think if we continue to get better the recognition will come, I have no doubt about that!
Thank you for reading.