Richard Corrigan

21 September 2006
Richard Corrigan

Overall ranking: 45 (new entrant)

Chefs' ranking: (8) (new entrant)

Richard Corrigan is the Dublin-born chef who has become a key player on the London restaurant scene since 1994, when he won a Michelin star for Stephen Bull's Fulham Road restaurant.

Corrigan went on to form a 50/50 partnership with Searcy's, the contract caterer owned Nigel and Richard Goodhew. The partnership opened a string of acclaimed fine-dining restaurants.

He is currently chef-patron of the Michelin-star Lindsay House restaurant in Soho and recently reopened and revived Mayfair's long-established fish restaurant, Bentley's Oyster Bar and Grill.

Richard Corrigan - Career guide

Richard Corrigan, who is now 39, was born in Dublin and raised on a 25-acre farm in County Meath. After working at the Kirwin hotel in Ireland, he moved to Holland at the age of 17 where he spent four years training.

He arrived in London in 1984, working in the early 1990s at future acquisition Bentley's. By 1994 he was head chef at Stephen Bull's Fulham Road restaurant where he gained a Michelin star.

The Searcy's link-up began in 1996 when Corrigan was hired to raise food standards at Searcy's Brasserie at the London Barbican. A year later, he formed a joint-venture with the caterer - Searcy's-Corrigan Restaurants - to buy the Lindsay House restaurant and this partnership has persisted through a number of ventures to the present day.

Richard Corrigan - What we think
Corrigan's earthy, robust yet sophisticated food and "less is more" philosophy reflects his Celtic roots and proved a popular alternative to the "twiddly, intellectual food" that he rebelled against.

At the height of his success at Fulham Road, Corrigan made a surprise move to become consultant chef at a greyhound racing track alongside head of catering Michael Hoy, a colleague from his time at Bentley's. However, the stadium in Hackney went into receivership and Corrigan's hopes of opening a restaurant in North London were dashed by gazumpers.

The 1996 link-up with Searcy's proved fortuitous. Searcy's Brasserie, which opened at the Barbican in 1991, was the caterer's first retail-style contract and they brought Corrigan in on a six-month contract to revitalise the operation.

Corrigan noticed that Lindsay House, the Georgian townhouse in Soho, was on the market cheap but could only afford half the asking price. He interested Richard Goodhew in the property and thus was born Searcy's-Corrigan Restaurants.

They opened the new Lindsay House restaurant in 1997 and Corrigan's cooking won the restaurant a Michelin star in 1999. Two sister businesses sprung in Chelsea - the House (which was sold in 2002) and the English Garden restaurant (which became the Rasoi Vineet Bhatia in 2004).

More accolades followed - Corrigan won the Outstanding London Chef category in the 2000 Carlton London Restaurant Awards while Gaut Millat named Lindsay House as one of London's five finest restaurants in 2005.

Corrigan's prestige rocketed in 2004 when the partnership won the prized contract to operate an exclusive restaurant and bar atop London's the Gherkin building, which they opened in 2004 when Corrigan also oversaw Searcy's new restaurant at the National Gallery in Edinburgh.

Corrigan's next coup was to restore the historic Bentley's (which dates back to 1916) to its former glory. The partnership snapped up the property in May 2005 and reopened it six months later to critical acclaim, winning the New Restaurant Award from the Craft Guild of Chefs in 2006.

In 2006, Corrigan (no stranger to TV) was one of four winning chefs of the 14 who competed in BBC2's Great British Menu for the chance to devise the menus for the Queen's 80th birthday celebrations. He provided a starter of smoked salmon with Irish soda bread, woodland sorrel and cress.

The chef has opened his first restaurant in his native Ireland, this time in concert with Ryanair founder and billionaire Tony Ryan. The 70-seat restaurant, the Mill at Lyons, opened this September as part of a £34m food village (completed with smokery and bakery) on Ryan's Lyons Estate in Co Kildare.

Richard Corrigan - Further information

Richard Corrigan cook books on Amazon

Read more about the CatererSearch100, the list of the most influential people here

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