A native of Dillon’s Cross on Cork’s northside, Mr Murphy and his wife Nicola Lawlor have been planning to open their establishment for some time, having garnered years of experience in different cultures and award-winning establishments.
Stoneview Restaurant will serve what Mr Murphy describes as
“modern Irish” in an establishment that could possibly boast the best views in the country. It is no coincidence that an illuminated Blarney Castle greets guests at Stoneview, taking in the rolling hills and green Cork countryside, he says.
“The views to Nicola and I were uniquely Irish, as soon as we lay eyes on it. We’d been looking for 18 months for the right fit and the first day I saw it, it was what I had been looking for. It was a sunny day and looking out to see the castle. It fits with the Irishness I want to convey, the essence of what we are, green fields and one of Ireland’s most
recognisable landmarks,” he said.
Mr Murphy has worked in some of Cork’s top restaurants and hotels, including Greene’s, Maryborough House and El Vino. Those years in Cork, plus many years in London and a stint in South America
absorbing cultural nuances led him to Stoneview.
“This restaurant is 10 years in the making. I looked at tapas or good old-fashioned Irish food. For me, people look at world-class restaurants with Mexican or Italian or French themes, but we have an outstanding offering here in Ireland.
I would call our food ‘modern Irish’. Hundreds of years ago, Ireland was the standard internationally. You cannot tell me we don’t have worldclass produce. Why shouldn’t we have food that is desired by different cultures around the world?,” he said.
Serving the likes of Elton John and the Sultan of Brunei along the journey, as well as serving under worldclass chefs means Mr Murphy knows how customers should be treated when they enter a restaurant. It’s only been a month, but the word of mouth and rave reviews on social media show he is on the right track.
“I had always been inclined towards hotel management and then gravitated towards cooking. After a great two years in Greene’s in Cork, I went to London. The reason primarily was to gain experience. London and New York, and perhaps Paris are cities where your horizons are expanded, where you can learn and develop your style,” he said.
Learning under Australian chef Michael McEnearney was something he cherishes to this day, Mr Murphy said. “The first place I worked in London was Scott’s, which was a wonderful place to learn.
"It had a really good kitchen, an excellent head chef in Michael McEnearney. You absorb as much as you can in a restaurant like that, learn from a brilliant chef like Michael. He’s an Australian chef with an excellent reputation. I was there for more than three years,” he said.
Then it was onto the Wolseley, in one of London’s most historic buildings in Piccadilly.
“It was a step up in the sense that it was a bigger kitchen and a bigger turnover by way of volume. There were 60 chefs in the kitchen, it was a high-pressure environment where you really learn. When I was there, it was in the top 50 restaurants in the world,” Mr Murphy said.
Michelin Star restaurant Nobu followed, as well Aspinall’s Casino in Mayfair. “Nobu was massive, 100 chefs. I had my own section, where I worked the grill, which meant cooking meats. That’s all you do because
it could be 600 covers in one night, but that meat had to be Michelin Star standard.
“Aspinall’s Casino in Mayfair is a private members casino, way less manic. The focus was to prepare food that was delicious enough to keep the high rollers there, such as the Sultan of Brunei.
“I did a lot of agency work, which meant event catering. Rhubarb Catering was the only Michelin Star-catering firm of its kind, which meant functions at the Royal Albert Hall or an Elton John party in his house,” Mr Murphy said.
For all that big city experience, watching Argentinian chefs in Patagonia was a life lesson, he says.
“Argentina was an eyeopener in terms of the pride they have in their food. Barbecues arem massive there, and the way they prepare it is mincredible.
“Here in Ireland, we have the same kind of weather as Patagonia — we are in the same class as one of the best beef producers in the world.
“I don’t believe we promote just how world-class our beef is. That’s something I’d like to see more of — Irish food being talked about in the same reverential terms.”
Stoneview is open Wednesday to Sunday. See Stoneview Restaurant on Facebook or www.stoneview.ie