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Interviews
David Kehoe, Chef
Food & Beverages

David Kehoe, Chef

David Kehoe is the Executive Head Chef in the Tower Hotel in Dublin.  When he completed his Leaving Cert he went to study in Athlone IT on a 2 year fulltime professional cookery course.  He also is qualified in HACCP (Food Safety Mgmt) up until management level.  He was one of the chef presenters on "Corrigan Knows Food", which was on RTÉ1 television.

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first question!

What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

From the age of 8 I knew that I wanted to be a chef and not just any type of chef but the best I could, and when I finished school I applied to Failte Ireland to become a chef which was called C.E.R.T. at the time. After finishing my 2-year-course there I got the opportunity to work in Germany with some fantastic chefs who showed how to enjoy the passion of cooking which I always had. This was one of the biggest career milestones, if not the greatest. The time that I spent in Germany has always stayed with me and made me want more and more from this business.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

There were four people that influenced my career. First was the Head of the catering dept in Atlone IT.- John O'Hara. who saw a young student with a potential to be a good chef and grabbed me by the shoulders and told me to cop myself on and do my work. What I learnt then I still use today as an Executive Head Chef. The second was Liam McMahon - an Irish master chef working in Germany for 20 years at the time who saw a rough diamond that was easy to polish, he was like a good truffle pig finding the best truffles. The last two are easy: myself who always had the desire to be the best as I can and work hard to be the best. The last and most important - people that come to eat my food- without them I'm nothing. There's no greater satisfaction than knowing that you have cooked good food for people from scratch or raw ingredients.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

There were four people that influenced my career. First was the Head of the catering dept in Atlone IT.- John O'Hara. who saw a young student with a potential to be a good chef and grabbed me by the shoulders and told me to cop myself on and do my work. What I learnt then I still use today as an Executive Head Chef. The second was Liam McMahon - an Irish master chef working in Germany for 20 years at the time who saw a rough diamond that was easy to polish, he was like a good truffle pig finding the best truffles. The last two are easy: myself who always had the desire to be the best as I can and work hard to be the best. The last and most important - people that come to eat my food- without them I'm nothing. There's no greater satisfaction than knowing that you have cooked good food for people from scratch or raw ingredients.

How did you go about getting your current job?

I'm registerd with a very good agency who looks after my career path for me. They told me about the job at the Tower Hotel Dublin, and that it would suit me. They organised the interview. I had 2 interviews with the CEO of The Tower Hotel Group -Eric Rothchild and Ms Nora Wyse - GM of The Tower Hotel Dublin. The job offer was made to the agency and I had to accept it through the agency. Using the agency took a lot the stress out of the whole process.

Describe a typical day?

A typical day for me starts at about 8-8.30am in the morning, when I come in I check with the breakfast chef that everything has gone ok for breakfast then it's the pastry chef to see how he is getting on.From about 9am until 11.45am it's meeting and office work i.e checking e-mails and going over yesterdays business. Then from 12noon it's lunch service until 2pm, After lunch it's office work again for another hour or so.Then it's a briefing for the chef's that are working in the evening to let them know whats going on i.e how many people are booked for dinner or if we have a function. I normally finish up at about 7ish if we're not too busy.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

My responsibilities are the complete running of the kitchen from quality of food to budgets, HACCP (Food Safety Management System), waste management, rosters, financial control and the general running of the food production of the kitchen.

What are the main challenges?

These would be trying to put the best product on the plate for the best price possible and trying to keep running my kitchen in harmony so that we can produce food that reflects the harmony of the kitchen.

What's cool?

What is cool is that I'm the Chef and there can be only one Chef in the kitchen. How cool is that!!

What's not so cool?

That I have to take all the responsibility for all of the other chefs and problems whether I'm there or not there.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

The most obvious - you need to be a very good cook to be a good chef. You need to be a good motivator and manager. You also need a very good financial and logistical head. You need to be the most relaxed person in the kitchen so that people can see you can take the pressure.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

Maths, English, French, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Home Economics. All of them influenced my career as I need all of them eg. without maths I couldn't deal with the financial part of the job.

What is your education to date?

Secondary School up until the Leaving Cert, 3rd Level - 2 Year professional fulltime cookery course in Athlone IT.  HACCP(Food Safety Mgmt) up until management level

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

Without a doubt - every single one of them.

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

The most rewarding event was being one of the chef presenters on "Corrigan Knows Food", which was on RTE1 last year for 6 weeks. To be picked for the show from so many passionate chefs in the country was like a "well done" for staying in the career for so long and doing so well.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

Above all I'm very passionate and committed, completely mad and ones of the greatest love of my life is being a chef and cooking. If I could go back I would choose to be a chef all over again.

What is your dream job?

To be a chef.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

It has its ups and downs. Like with everything - you have to start at the bottom, but also what you put in you can get out. Now I am happy with my lifestyle but I worked very hard and got rewarded for it. Being a chef you have to make time for leisure. To be a good chef you need to have a good and balanced lifestyle. Being a chef its like a calling - it's something that you have to do. Now I have much more free time than years ago, but when I look back - what a time I had!

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

If you're going to be a chef give it everything you have, because it will give you everything you have ever wanted in return. It's up to me to teach you all the skills.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

1.Passion, 2.Organisation 3. Dedication

What is your favourite music?

Jazz

What is your favourite film?

Godfather

What is your pet hate at work?

radio in the kitchen

What is your star sign?

Gemini

Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?

Yes because as a chef you can never stop learning and there's always something new. I'd like to do some sugar courses to help with my pastry skills and maybe some computer courses to help me with my management skills.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Working at any type of food operation - cafe, deli, restaurant etc. If you want to be a chef you'd work  at anything to get into it. I'm not sure - I've been working as a chef since being 16 years of age.

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