Niamh Tierney, Head Chef at An Púcán: “Find a good mentor who teaches you.”
Niamh Tierney has been on her An Púcán journey for almost a decade – throughout that time, she’s held a variety of positions, including chef de partie and sous chef. Today, she’s the head chef at the busy Galway social spot, and she’s in charge of the entire kitchen. Niamh has lots of top experience, an eye for detail, and a distinctive culinary vision, so it’s little wonder people keep flocking to An Púcán for fantastic food.
Niamh knows how to lead an efficient kitchen, making sure each order is prepared well and on time – which is ideal considering how busy An Púcán regularly gets. So, how would Niamh describe what it’s like to work there?
“It’s busy, fast, and furious, but I enjoy my work and that makes it a lot easier. Personal growth is the main one, though – that I have been able to progress, and that I have proved that I’m capable for positions. It’s great that the positions are becoming available, too, and that helps a lot,” Niamh said.
Niamh’s career arc from chef de partie right the way through to head chef has seen her beat her own path – and now she’s in a position to lead one of Galway’s most popular kitchens.
Advice for Those Starting
So, what advice would Niamh give to anyone considering a career in the culinary arts – and anybody who wants to be like her, a successful head chef?
“Once you get a good mentor, you’re sorted. If you’re working in a place where you don’t like the food, you don’t like the place, you don’t like your boss – you won’t want to be a chef. So, if you find a good mentor who teaches you and wants you there, it helps a lot,” Niamh said.
Niamh says that she learned a great deal from those who were head chefs at An Púcán before she took up the role – and now she gets to be the leader and mentor who shows others the ropes.
“That was a big thing for me – I had two really good head chefs who were very sound, and I’m trying to learn bits from the way both of them did things and pass it on,” she added.
Trends and Creativity
One of the key things she has learned during her time at An Púcán is that “the customer is always right”, but also that trends are important to keep an eye on. An Púcán regularly offers vegan and vegetarian dishes for this growing customer base – another reason why the bar is so popular. This feeds into the creative side of Niamh’s head chef role – something that gives her the opportunity to dream up inventive daily specials.
As head chef, Niamh has already reached the pinnacle, and the trajectory has been up and up all the way. As head chef, you might think there’s no other levels to reach, but Niamh is determined to continue seeing progress – for An Púcán and her team.
“I want to continue seeing the place running smoothly, to see my team happy and to see the customers happy. When a new chef comes in, sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad, so I’d just like to keep the customer’s option the same or better and to make sure it all goes well.”
If you’d like to join Head Chef Niamh in her An Púcán journey, check out the Connacht Hospitality Group’s career page here to see what’s available!