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Aiden Byrne, 36, from Kirkby, is the youngest chef to ever win a Michelin Star, aged just 22. After a glittering career spanning restaurants like Tom Aikens, Pied a Terre and The Dorchester Grill Room, Aiden has ‘come home’ to the North West to open ‘The Church Green’, a gastro pub in Lymm, Cheshire.
RESTAURANT: The Church Green, Higher Lane, Lymm, Cheshire, WA13 0AP
Aiden is quite softly spoken but fiercely ambitious and competitive. He comes from a very humble background and has been striving to improve himself since he was a child – he always wanted more than the council estates and fish finger sandwiches on offer in Kirkby. He is obsessed with food and confesses that it’s the only thing he’s ever excelled at – he’s very humble but knows that he’s raised the bar in terms of NW chefs.
Aiden is a real journeyman and has worked with loads of chefs, although the term ‘Tom Aikens’ protégé’ seems to have stuck – he wants to prove in GBM that he’s his own man, cooking his own style of British food, especially that he’s gone full circle and is ‘coming home’ to bring his brand of fine dining to his homeland!
Having excelled at Home Economics at Ruffwood Comprehensive, winning student of the year twice (he chose the subject as he copied whatever his cousin Alan did!) Aiden enrolled at Central Tertiary College in Knowsley (tutor was Dudley Bellshaw). During the Summer holidays he worked for free at the Stanleylands Hotel in Cheshire, when he improved drastically. He would then come back to college and charge his mates 5p a go to do their work for them! Ironically, his Head Chef at the Stanleylands (Ian Donald) is now helping Aiden in his search for NW suppliers for his new restaurant.
Aiden says ‘I owe a lot of my determination to my dear cousin & friend Alan Feeney. I suppose he was like my big brother, he chose catering in school & I copied him & that was it, there was no turning back.’
After a disastrous spell at London’s Royal Garden Hotel (he was bullied, locked in a fridge and ended up back home in tears), Aiden ended up at Adlards Restaurant in Norwich. He noticed that the standard of food dropped when the boss was off, and when he commented on it, was made Head Chef at 22 – his simple but meticulously created cuisine won back Adlards’ Michelin Star. At the Awards Ceremony (attended by Ramsay, Blanc etc) Aiden received a special award and he burst into tears.
Even though he was in his dream job, Aiden was ‘teaching but not learning’, so to push himself he joined Tom Aikens at Pied a Terre – he describes Tom as a ‘genius’ and doesn’t think he’ll ever be as good as him. Aiden left Tom to work in Ireland for 5 years, then rejoined Tom at ‘Tom Aikens’, taking some of his sous chefs with him. Tom ‘kicked the shit’ out of him for 8 months in front of his staff and brother, until Aiden was installed as Head Chef
After a spell at Danesfield House Hotel, Aiden joined The Dorchester as Head Chef of The Grill Room (his brother also joined him there) – a huge turnaround for a lad from Kirkby. He’s always had a yearning to come home and when re-writing the menu for a pub being purchased by his girlfriend’s parents, Aiden loved it so much that he bought the lease! The food will be British but not as high brow as the Dorchester. Aiden thinks the Liverpool area is ready for Michelin Star style cuisine (there are no Stars there currently).