Tim Daly - West Cork Chef

This year has been different for all of us and with holidaying abroad being a no-go, I recently went for a well-deserved break in Cork City, and I decided to take the family to one of the Premier Hotels – The Kingsley Hotel.

I’d always had friends that had worked previously or still working at The Kingsley but hadn’t really had much to do or thought much about the place for a good few years. After staying there and enjoying some of the best cuisine I have had for some time I started tracking down who the head chef was and to my amazement a gentleman called Tim Daly was introduced to me. Not only was he Irish born and bred but it turns out he lives up the road from me in Skibbereen.

Just to let readers know, executive chef status doesn’t come easy but after getting hold of Tim and interviewing him for this article, I now understand his story and how he’s developed his career, skills and knowledge to the point where he can be a Chef de Cuisine in a major Cork hotel like The Kingsley.

The West Cork Beginning

Tim grew up above his parents’ store in Skibbereen. Their work ethic was always part of his early life and being in retail it was a natural progression to develop an interest in food. From his first kitchen porter position in the Windmill Tavern in Skibbereen to his two year culinary course at CIT in Cork, Tim’s chosen career had already started along with placements in well known Cork restaurants such as Man Fridays in Kinsale and Hayfield Manor.

The Bigger Picture

For many chefs travelling the world or moving to other restaurants and experiencing different food cultures is a way of growing, adapting and learning quickly. Tim was no exception after graduation working for one year in Wicklow at the well acclaimed Brook lodge and then off to France.

The French Connection

The big move to France was one of the best moves for Tim not only for his professional career but his personal life as he meet his wife Sabrina in South of France in Marcy where he set up shop for three years and worked in a two star Michelin star restaurant called Le Petit Nice.

Tim Explains “The food culture in France is a great influence on what I cook today. French Classical cooking has been a big part of repertoire as a professional chef. But in my career I have taken steps back in finance and positions in the kitchen to move forward personally to gain the knowledge and experience of my craft.”

Can’t Keep an Irish man Away from Home

After his French journey Tim did a further an eight year stint back at Brook lodge in Wicklow where after being Sous Chef for a small time he was appointed executive chef from 2008 onwards. Brooklodge has always been one of the admired places to stay in Ireland and not any ordinary chef is taken. Tim seemed to make his mark as leader and to build a team around him while developing a distinct Irish cuisine based on quality local ingredients and accomplished cooking.

“To respect your team and to lead them and trust them will give back loyalty and respect back”

After 8 years in Brooklodge, a quick stint in the 5 star Druids Glen down the road he and Sabrina went back to France where Tim worked at the well acclaimed vineyard as Sous Chef Villa la Coste (Chateau la Coste). The hours were long and a hard place to have any bit of personal life as Tim says he just about got a day off.

Born & Bred in Skibbereen

Quality of life and work / life balance brought Tim and Sabrina back to Ireland. For three years now Tim and his family have resided in Skibbereen and travels up to his executive chef job in the Kingsley Hotel.

The Industry and Being a Chef Today

Apart from Tim’s amazing career and how he’s continued to grow during our interesting conversations he outlined his approach as a Chef and Manager and his answers to my questions were very honest and direct.

“Using local produce from your area is very important which gives provenance to everything you are creating. I am very hands on still today and I love to be in the kitchen and leave the paper work till later. Margins are very tight these days but I am there to make profit for The Kingsley and with the team I have we are doing are great job.”

“My biggest fear in the industry is finding new talent. The quality of chefs is changing as younger people don’t necessarily want the long hours and the industry is not as attractive anymore. Education has changed with courses lacking in the reality of what the industry needs in a hospitality environment and that’s disappointing from a point where I got so much out of my career”.

“I love passing on knowledge and skills to the younger and upcoming chefs. I make sure of this as the loyalty of each team I have managed has stayed with me within all the establishments I have worked in, the Esprit de corps of being a team achieving success together is something special. ”

Writers Overview

Sometimes we don’t need social media and celebrity status to announce our achievements and for Tim Daly that’s exactly what’s happening here. Pure industry driven with his passion and love for good food he has carved his way into becoming an excellent Executive Chef passing on his knowledge, skills and the love for food to the next generation of professional chefs.

If you would like to get in touch with Matthew or The Skibbereen Food Company please go to the following links: