A Dundalk chef has landed himself a top job at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant “Fifteen” in Cornwall, England.
Darren Balliah, who is currently the head chef of the Crowne Plaza, landed the job after he cooked up a storm for the Jamie Oliver.
Darren is originally from South Africa, but he moved to Dundalk over 13 years ago.
The chef originally worked in the award winning Fitzpatrick’s Bar and Restaurant.
“I worked in Fitzpatrick’s for eight years,” Darren told The Democrat.
“The crew in Fitzpatrick’s were amazing. Danny Fitzpatrick helped in getting me a permit and also assisted in my application for Irish citizenship.”
Darren then wanted to try something different and was offered the role of head chef in the Crown Plaza, Dundalk.
“I’ve been working in the Crown Plaza for over three years and have enjoyed my time.
“I am always trying to improve and develop my career. I got an opportunity to apply for a job with Jamie Oliver and I couldn’t refuse.”
Darren travelled to Cornwall in the UK where Olivier’s famous “Fifteen” restaurant is based.
Darren had to cook-up a sea dish for the celebrity chef.
“Jamie asked me to cook up a dish with seafood that was in the restaurant,” said Darren.
“I decided to cook a seafood platter for Jamie.
“He was really impressed with it and he seemed happy.
“The next day Jamie phoned me and was offered the job.
“I am over the moon and I am looking forward to starting the job.”
Darren will move to England in January to work with Oliver.
“I will really miss Dundalk, I have great friends and family in the town.
“It has been my home for nearly 13 years and will really miss the place.
“I have met some amazing people in the town and could not have wished for a better place in Ireland to call my home.”
In South Africa, Darren could only study to a certain extent due to restrictions under the old apartheid regime.
“Nelson Mandela’s release from prison changed the way of life for the better in my country.
“If he was not released, I would not be here in Dundalk.
“It was a different world. “There was freedom for everybody.
“Nelson had a way to embrace and calm people using words,” he concluded.