What does your company do and what role do you play? I am the head chef of a brand new dining experience in Derry called Artis by Phelim O’Hagan. Artis is a high end, 50-seater restaurant and we are based in the Craft Village in the centre of town which is full of and supports other great food and drink producers.
ow did the business start?
Following the success of the outside dining concept at Soda & Starch this year, Ray Moran, who I worked with 16 years ago, decided it was time to create something special and revamp the existing interior space. Following a significant investment, Artis by Phelim O’Hagan was born and has just opened to the public – the great news is that we are already fully booked on many nights.
What is your own background?
I started out in hospitality in a rather unconventional way, when you consider where I ended up, as a pot washer at the age of 14 in Harry’s Restaurant, which is where I first met Ray Moran.
My first experience at a high level of cooking was at the one-star Michelin restaurant, House at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, and then onto the two-star Michelin restaurant, Andrew Fairley in Gleneagles. For the last seven and a half years, I have worked at Browns Bonds Hill in Derry as the head chef. I’m also very proud to say that I was the regional champion and Northern Ireland finalist in BBC’s Great British Menu 2021.
What are your unique strengths?
I would consider myself a very good team leader. I lead by example which starts with a very efficient and organised kitchen. I would also say that I am a good mentor to the young chefs who have worked in my kitchen – training and guiding them to refine and develop their passion for cooking. I also have a passion for local produce and working with people who love producing food as much as I love to cook it.
Who will be your main customers?
Simply put, people who love good food. We want to cook food that is familiar, comfort food. It helps that Artis is absolutely stunning inside with a truly unique setting and ambience. Our menu will appeal to those seeking a different kind of food experience but also families, couples and those who want a special treat for an overdue get together.
How do you want the business to grow?
I want to see Artis become a well-established restaurant that puts Derry firmly on the high end foodie list of go to destinations. We want to get a reputation for food that’s cooked honestly and is full of flavour.
What challenges have you faced so far?
Apart from the trials and tribulations of becoming a head chef at an established restaurant at the young age of 24 and being up against some of the UK’s finest chefs in BBC’s Great British Menu last year, I would have to say being a father of two young boys while balancing a career in hospitality and family life has definitely been my biggest challenge.
Who or what most inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by chefs I’ve worked with in the past, mainly my first head chef, Raymond Moran who I’ve now partnered with to bring ‘Artis’ to life. And Martijn Kajuiter who taught me a lot in my time at one-star Michelin Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Waterford. My two boys inspire me everyday to better myself and provide for them.
Where do you think your business will be in the next few years?
I want to think positively, and my greatest wish is that people will flock to Artis and help to put us on the map as a stellar, high end restaurant based in Derry.