The 28-year-old — the seventh generation of a family that has been running Moran’s Oyster Cottage in Galway for 250 years — has six Irish titles, three European and one world title for oyster-opening.
“This weekend, I’ll be opening 30 oysters. Presentation and speed are important. You get penalties if there’s grit in the oyster or slicing on the meat. My best time, so far, was two minutes and eight seconds — I’ve set myself the goal of breaking the two-minute barrier.”
Michael says he’s “still working” on getting his girlfriend, Triona, to enjoy oysters, which are considered an aphrodisiac.
“They’re an acquired taste,” he says.
I used to play lots of hurling, so I was really fit years ago. I’m trying to get back to that. I mix it up — once a week I run, swim and do yoga. I don’t always achieve it.
Nothing, really. I’ve had my appendix out and I got viral meningitis when I was 18 or 19 — I fully recovered from that.
I love blueberries and natural yoghurt. I love oysters, which have a lot of vitamin D and zinc. I love anchovies and mackerel.
I drink a lot of coffee. I love espresso — working long hours in the restaurant, I’d have had 12 a day. I’ve cut back a lot.
I always found that the longer I stayed working at night, the longer it took to unwind — you’re on a high if you’ve had 150 people in the restaurant. When I finish, at 9pm, I go to the sauna as a good way to unwind.
By playing music — the guitar, violin, piano.
Chef Marco Pierre White, Mick Jagger and Pink Floyd — they’d make for good banter and good stories.
The seawater smell of native oysters. It has this freshness, this beautiful brininess.
I don’t think I’d change anything. I’d like to get fitter, though.
I try not to. I gave a speech after winning the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway. I shed a tear then — it was an emotional speech. My dad had won the competition in the late ’70s. It was the first time Ireland had done it in a while.
Jealousy and arrogance.
Sometimes, I’m too friendly. I speak to everybody. In cities like London and New York, chatting to people on subways is not the norm.
Yes, regularly — my family would be very religious. Both my late grandmothers were very religious. My parents instilled in me a very good faith.
The smell of really good coffee in the morning.