HEAD CHEF: David Lee, Head Chef at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa, with Niall Coffey (General Manager).
What does a Head Chef do during his first week at the renowned five star Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa – host a sell-out dinner – feeding over 100 of the town’s local residents.
Recently appointed Head Chef, David Lee, joined the well-known team at Aghadoe Heights just in time to launch the second in a series of three dining experiences, known as ‘The Taste of Aghadoe’. A full house, of predominantly local guests, came together at the start of the month to enjoy a mouth-watering elegant dining experience at an equally attractive price point. The three themed evenings were added to the dining calendar in order to encourage local guests to experience the wonderful array of dishes on offer at the 2AA Rosette Lake Room restaurant.
“Sometimes there is a misconception that hotel restaurants are for hotel guests,” David said.
“We want the whole town of Killarney, and surrounding areas, to know that we are open for business and that our Lake Room restaurant and Heights Lounge and Piano Bar are wonderful dining options for any night of the week.”
Interestingly enough, David took a U-turn on his planned career path after discovering that his Biochemistry course was not ticking all the boxes when it came to job satisfaction. While working part-time in a city centre restaurant, David was instantly enamoured by the addictive energy and charismatic buzz of the kitchen. This, coupled with warm childhood memories of his nan’s incredible cooking and homemade stews, was the beginning of David’s career as a chef.
David enrolled at Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London, possibly the most prestigious and respected cookery school in the United Kingdom, which boasts an impressive alumni of well-known celebrity and TV chefs, including Matt Tebbutt, Lorraine Pascale and Gizzi Erskine.
While living in London, David spent his time working in the sophisticated and edgy neighbourhood of Knightsbridge, where he refined his skills in classical French bourgeois cooking and then onto Soho, under Chef Director Ben Tish in Ember Yard, where he gained invaluable experience in the concept of live fire cooking.
David moved on to Chess Club, a distinguished private members’ club in Mayfair where he worked under Executive Chef, Jackson Boxer, and spent his time fulfilling the culinary desires of some the world’s best-known faces.
Bringing his talents back to Ireland, David joined the team at Dunraven Arms in Limerick, working closely with the Murphy family. The establishment is renowned for their outstanding food quality and was featured in the very first Michelin Guide of the United Kingdom and Ireland in 1911. They were since honoured in 2011 with a commemorative special edition.
But it’s not all about cooking. When away from the heat and intensity of running a five star kitchen, David enjoys fishing and running and is an avid fan of music. Given that his family are such an important part of his life, David was delighted to further his career in Ireland and be living close to home.
Although having grown up in Cork, David admits that he is excited about living in neighbouring Kerry. He has fond memories of times away with loved ones in Killarney and this made his decision to relocate to The Kingdom “a no brainer”.
Apart from the stunning scenery, David sees Killarney as a hugely significant hub for hospitality and has big plans for the culinary scene at the much loved Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have David leading our fantastic team of chefs and we look forward to seeing what plans he has for the dining experience at Aghadoe Heights,” General Manager, Niall Coffey, said.