Some kind of wonderful: Adam Nevin on his new role at Carton House

The head chef at the Grill at the Dorchester hotel Adam Nevin has returned to Ireland to create a new fine dining experience. Partner content with The Morrison Room at Carton House, Fairmont

Adam Nevin is set to lead the team at The Morrison Room at Carton House starting this autumn. Picture: Ruth Calder-Potts

“For me, it’s all about the produce. In London you can get pretty much any ingredient from anywhere in the world delivered to the back door of the kitchen, but there’s something about a restaurant being in and of a place that really does matter. So that’s what The Morrison Room at Carton House, Fairmont should be to me.”

As a statement of intent, it’s hard to argue with Adam Nevin, the 28-year-old incoming head chef at The Morrison Room at Carton House, Fairmont in Kildare. And it’s hard to argue with his reputation when it comes to knowing what makes a good restaurant good, and a great one great.

From Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork to head chef at the Grill at the Dorchester in London, taking in the two-Michelin star Hand and Flowers Pub in Marlow along the way, Nevin has seen and experienced a lot in his career so far.

“In this new role, I am focusing on sourcing the best produce I can get, yes from all around the world, but I’m also looking forward to including as much Irish produce as I can. That’s very exciting to me. My style of cooking is classical with a modern twist and obviously if we’re in Ireland it would be silly not to focus on that,” he says.

The Morrison Room at Carton House, Fairmont is one of the most picturesque dining rooms in the country, set in a 300-year-old grand house in opulent grounds. It’s located around half an hour from Dublin and reopened in 2021 after a multi-million euro renovation process that took two years.

As part of that, the original Palladian-style mansion house was brought back to life and refurbished, along with the Morrison Room, with its high ceilings and ornate plasterwork. It’s a stunning backdrop for any kitchen hoping to put up world class food.

“It’s a gorgeous dining room but ultimately I always try to focus on what people actually want to eat,” Nevin says. “It’s important to put myself in the diner’s shoes and try to cook good honest food that I would really enjoy eating. So stylistically, yes it will be fine dining and things will be similar to London but there is a lot that can be done here that will set it apart.

“As an island, for example, we have access to fantastic fish, lobsters, scallops, prawns and turbot – ingredients to make any chef excited. We also have truly great dairy and all the fantastic cheeses that go with that. I adore Ballylisk Brie from Armagh, for example. And that’s before you get to the great beef, lamb and pork that is produced here. It’s a chef’s dream to be working with produce like that.”

Working at Carton House, Fairmont will be a homecoming of sorts for Nevin – he was born and raised in nearby Maynooth and knows the area extremely well. However he left to work in London at the age of 20 and has filled the time since then learning from some of the most celebrated chefs in the UK.

“I was always interested in food, and at 14 or 15 I wasn’t fond of school, so I got a part time job in a local café in Maynooth as a kitchen porter. I loved the atmosphere and how things were done and worked my way up, helping out with starters and taking on more. I went from kitchen porter to commis chef, to chef de partie and so on,” he says.

But it’s a long journey from sweeping up and washing dishes in a café in Maynooth to being head chef at the Dorchester in London, and the path along the way wasn’t always easy.

“My first UK job was at The Westbury Hotel with Alyn Williams as a commis chef, where they held one Michelin star, and I went from there to the Hand and Flowers with Tom Kerridge, which of course has two and is famous for being a high-end pub.

“I learned a huge amount there, about cooking and about myself. I learned how to deal with enormous pressure in a really busy kitchen, working at a high level. Tom was a great mentor, and he was there at the pass regularly but when it was time to move on, I went to The Grill at the Dorchester.”

Nevin started as a sous chef under Tom Booton when The Grill was relaunched in 2022 and 2023 and was involved in developing the menus and helping to breathe new life into a London institution. And now he’s hoping to do something interesting and innovative at Carton House, Fairmont.

In the time Nevin has been away, the Irish food scene has changed considerably and there’s never been more choice for diners looking for world-class cooking in a picturesque Irish environment. This is a challenge Nevin is up for meeting.

“I’ve been in London for eight years and I’ve learned so much over there and I’m really excited to bring everything I’ve learned back to Ireland and find out what’s going on. So I want to be able to move fast and bring something brilliant to the Irish food scene,” he says.

“I touch base regularly with Irish chefs, guys like Mickael Viljanen at Chapter One, Andy McFadden at Glovers Alley and Mike Tweedie at Adare Manor, so I’ve stayed plugged in to what’s happening here and am hoping to add to it.”

Any good chef is surrounded by a strong team and in Nevin’s case, he’ll be working with a sous chef he’s known for years and counts as a good friend, Ramon Fernandez.

“Ramon is half Spanish, half Irish and I’m sure he’ll bring something interesting to the table too. He’s spent time in the best restaurants in Barcelona and Valencia so he brings a really interesting set of influences, so that will be a further reason things will be fresh at The Morrison Room.

“At the same time I’m genuinely nervous because this is the first time my name will be associated with a project and it rests on my shoulders. It means so much to me to do Carton House, Fairmont justice and to try to deliver a dining experience that’s as good as I know it can be. To me, this is what matters above all else.”

See cartonhouse.com for more