World rowing champion and Olympic silver medalist Gary O'Donovan was the guest chef on Tuesday night's episode of The Restaurant - and his homely menu did enough to impress the judges and earn himself a five-star rating.
At the top of the show, O'Donovan said: "There's two things I like - I like being in the kitchen and eating, and I like rowing." The Irish public have already had plenty of exposure to the brilliance of Gary and his brother Paul in a rowing boat, but his passion for cooking truly came through on The Restaurant.
Gary O'Donovan had to impress judges Marco Pierre-White and Rachel Allen on the show, and attempted to do so with a menu inspired by his home of West Cork. It did not disappoint.
Gary O'Donovan puts in Olympic shift on The Restaurant
Gary O'Donovan's dishes took strong influence from his home in Cork, with ingredients proudly taken from the Rebel County. The menu for The Restaurant's diners read:
- First starter: Skeaghanore duck leg confit with curried lentil du puy
- Second starter: Roaringwater bay mussels with garlic lemon sauce and nana's brown bread
- First main: Lemon and herb Goatsbridge rainbow trout served with new baby potatoes
- Second main: Beef shin ragu with pappardelle and aged parmesan
- Desserts: White-chocolate cup with coffee cake topped in coffee jelly and cobbler with blackberry ripple ice cream
O'Donovan was keen to ramp up the home connection on his menu, with much of the food supplied from West Cork. The starters were both homely dishes and, after completing the first dish of confit, the famously funny O'Donovan quipped: "You can tell that duck came from West Cork this morning, can't you?"
Some of the diners weren't too enthused by the food on offer, particularly by the first mussels starter.
Gary did not want to take any tokenism from the esteemed judges, though, saying: "If they're serious and they don't like my food, I'd like to know why!" But, when the moment came, the praise was high for O'Donovan's dishes.
Rachel Allen remarked "We've had such a delicious meal, we've had a really great night. The best...there were so many best, it's hard to pick out...there wasn't a worst for me!"
Pierre White, on the other hand, "I would say that that meal you cooked me tonight might be the finest dinner I've ever had on The Restaurant in all the years I've been doing it. It was exceptional."
O'Donovan remarked that he had enjoyed the day before the moment of truth arrived, and he received a five star rating.
With the rowing, when we're racing - once you're doing your best, the end result doesn't really matter. You give it your best shot and we gave it our best shot in the kitchen all day and...these are the dishes that I like.
Coach Dominic Casey might have a job on his hands to get Gary O'Donovan back in a boat and on the water after the Skibb rower's performance in the kitchen. West Cork restaurants will be queuing up to get Gary & his Olympic-standard dishes on their menus! 👨🍳 pic.twitter.com/ftbRR4zQCI
— Kieran McCarthy (@KieranMcC_SS) October 25, 2022
Gary O'Donovan will no doubt be thrilled with his five-star rating. He received autographs from the judges on his rating card, indicating he may well keep the card as a souvenir - more than he has done for his Olympic and world medals, which he revealed on the show:
"I don't know where they are, I think Paul has them - well, I hope Paul has them! He probably throws them away in the bottom of a suitcase or something."