Ross Lewis is stepping aside from the Chapter One kitchen after almost three incredibly successful decades in the business. The chef, who retained a Michelin star for 15 years and earlier this year was winner of the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2021 Chef Mentor Award, has finished his last service in Chapter One’s seminal and influential kitchen. “The impact Ross has had on Irish restaurants over the years is clear to see,” said the Michelin Guide about Ross winning this year’s Chef Mentor Award, “and very much an ongoing phenomenon.”
Taking over from Ross in the kitchen of Chapter One is Mickael Viljanen, the impressively talented chef who held two Michelin stars since 2019 in The Greenhouse for his elegant, complex and delicious food. The restaurant will now be co-owned by the Finnish chef and becomes Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen.
“Words cannot remotely describe the three-decade journey I have been on,” says Ross Lewis, “and the incredibly valuable contribution from staff, past and present, some of whom have been long-serving, cannot be measured. The team is looking forward now to a new challenge. Irish customers are the best in the world — full stop — and we have been extremely blessed with their patronage. I have been so fortunate to have met such varied people from all walks of life, both domestic and international. I have been really lucky to be part of the great Irish food family, from the farmers and fishermen, the small artisan producers, right up to the food journalists, people with generosity in their hearts.”
“Having used this difficult period of Covid closure to reflect on my career,” Ross continues, “I feel the time is now right to step away from the Chapter One kitchen to allow for a new creative energy to build on the foundations of the last 29 years’ work. Although this moment is bitter-sweet, I am also excited about welcoming Mickael to Chapter One — he is a hugely talented chef who is ready to become chef-patron. Freeing myself from the Chapter One kitchen will allow me to focus my culinary gaze on my Italian restaurant, Osteria Lucio on Clanwilliam Terrace, which I plan to upgrade over the coming year.
“Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen will be a new restaurant, with another creative direction, but anchored around the same culture and ethos for which Chapter One is renowned. I will be staying to work with Mickael for the next couple of years so that our customer experience is as seamless and hopefully more enjoyable than ever when the restaurant reopens.”
“After much consideration I have decided to do what I have been dreaming of for a long time,” says Mickael Viljanen, “and work for myself. I am happy to be investing in Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen and there is great comfort in the fact that Ross will stay on as a partner to help ensure the new establishment runs perfectly. We are refurbishing the restaurant, somewhat reducing covers to focus on the food and service in exceptional detail. My main focus now though is to get my head down in the kitchen and prepare to welcome back Chapter One customers, alongside guests who have followed me over the years, as well as anyone who loves a great, accessible dining experience, from the four corners of this island.”
Ross and Mickael’s partnership sets an exciting new tone for the continuing story of Chapter One, a restaurant which has garnered awards and praise from critics at home and abroad.
“Mickael and I have spent an extraordinary amount of time together,” says Ross Lewis, “discussing in granular detail every aspect of what Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen will be like, from the customer and staff perspective to the business itself. I am more than confident that Mickael will make a great success of the new venture. The restaurant could not be in better hands.”
“My ambitions haven’t changed but my primary focus at present is that I want the business to be successful,” says Mickael Viljanen. “I’m very excited for my future on a new level now as a chef-patron, and I’m also just incredibly happy to be in partnership with someone that I respect as much as Ross Lewis.”
Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen will reopen as soon as government restrictions allow, and all valid Chapter One vouchers will be honoured, with an additional one-year grace period.
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