Mike Hanrahan, Chef
For most people, making a success of one career is hard enough. At the age of 49, Mike Hanrahan decided to leave the music business and re-train as a chef.
Mike was a member of trad legends Stockton’s Wing and toured extensively with Finbarr Furey and Ronnie Drew. As a very accomplished musician and producer, his decision to stop playing music was not one that he was forced to make.
It is a decision that Mike Hanrahan is delighted he made, despite having to start at the bottom of the chain in a new business.
His primary reason to stop playing music was his musical partner Ronnie Drew becoming sick in 2008. After 10 years with him, Mike didn’t want to start over again with another musical partner, so he decided to dip his toes elsewhere.
“I always loved food, so why not do something crazy? I was tired of the music business and I was burned out,” he says.
“I was playing a gig in Ballymaloe and I saw the school.” He signed up for three months as a student “to see where it would lead me”. After working in a gastropub in Dublin, it led back to Ballymaloe, where he spent a year teaching.
The next part of his career happened to be close by. “Pat Shortt was looking for a head chef for his pub (in Castlemartyr). He gave me carte blanche to do things my way. We are friends for a long time.”
As a disciple of the Ballymaloe School philosophy of using locally sourced ingredients, Mike thinks he is in the perfect place in East Cork, where he can source everything close by.
“It’s the ideal scenario here, I don’t know if I could do it alike this anywhere else in the country.
When Mike decided to re-train as a chef, he was 49.
“It is mad, it’s a complete lifestyle change. Your earning power is completely depleted. It’s not as lucrative as the music business!”
More importantly though, he enjoys his work day to day work. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. “I love it because I’m learning every day.”
For Mike, the advantages of going back into education have been hugely beneficial and he thinks that anyone can do it.
“We’re not all born with one skill, there’s nothing to say you can’t do something else. A lot of people have lost jobs and are in a tough situation. Just find what you have a passion for and go for it.
“There are lots of re-training opportunities out there. I’d recommend anyone do it, rather than be sitting down dejected. There are other rooms to walk into,” he puts it. It won’t be easy, though, he counsels.
“It was interesting to be at bottom of the line and tough at times. It’s about getting better at what you do. You just keep at it.”
Mike Hanrahan is head chef at Pat Shortt’s pub in Castlemartyr and has gained excellent reviews for his food at the pub.