Kevin Thornton (chef)

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Kevin Thornton
EducationCulinary Arts at Regional Technical College Galway
Known forHeat, Guerrilla Gourmet, Thornton's Restaurant
ChildrenEdward, Conor

Kevin Thornton is an Irish celebrity chef, radio and television personality and author, known for featuring on television series such as Guerrilla Gourmet and Heat and characterised by a supposed dislike of chips and confirmed dislike of pizza. He has written a book, Food for Life, and had his recipes featured on the national radio station Newstalk.[1] He has been praised by The New York Times and featured in publications such as The Dubliner and the Irish Independent.[2][3]

Thornton's restaurant, Thornton's Restaurant in Dublin's city centre, has received two Michelin stars, level with Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in the ranks of Irish restaurants with the most Michelin stars. Thornton was the first Irish chef to achieve two Michelin stars.[3][4] Thornton has received numerous awards and was named Food & Wine Magazine/'s Chef of the Year for Ireland in 2007 and been described as a "gastronomic legend" in Ireland.[5] Thornton's was named Number 25 in the 50 Best Restaurants in the World by Taste Magazine UK in 2003.


Thornton views his profession as being similar to theatre and performance and was famously embroiled in a controversy in 2007 surrounding his alleged refusal to sell chips to his restaurant customers, sparking comparisons to the hot-headed British chef Gordon Ramsay.[6] One customer requested the food but, upon receiving it, he changed his mind and sent them back to the kitchen.[6] Thornton then allegedly emerged from the kitchen with the chips and slammed them down on the man's table, with the remark: "They were cooked specially for you, so you eat them, you dickhead".[6] Asked about the incident by broadcaster Joe Duffy on his RTÉ Radio 1 Liveline programme, Thornton stressed that he had not so much been infuriated by the request of chips (he supposedly provides them for younger customers on a regular basis) but that he had been aggravated by the attitude of this particular customer.[6] The incident has since seen Thornton become associated with a dislike of chips and, as recently as 2009, has been crafted as a pun by the Irish media for any other outlet which does not serve the food.[7] Thornton has also expressed the desire that his and other similar Irish restaurants not be viewed as elitist by Irish clientele, but instead be embraced above poor quality, cheaper alternatives.[8]

Early life[edit]

Thornton was born rurally in Cashel, County Tipperary,[8] as one of nine children born to Rita and Ned.[9] He and his siblings were encouraged by their parents to cook, clean and sew from a young age.[9] Thornton however pursued an interest in nature at this time.[9] He spent summers helping out on a relative's farm and worked in a local abattoir and both experiences formed the basis of early training for his career.[9] He later studied culinary arts at Regional Technical College Galway, now Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.[8]


Early career[edit]

Thornton's career has led to him working globally, in countries such as Canada, France and Switzerland, working in an abattoir and a vineyard as well as in the kitchen.[8]

He opened his first restaurant - The Wine Epergne with his wife, Muriel, in Dublin's Rathmines district in 1990 and followed this by opening Thornton's Restaurant in Portobello in 1995 gaining the first Star in 1996 and the second in 2001. Thorntons moved to the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen's Green in 2002. In 2006 he lost his second star though and in 2015 he lost the remaining star.[2][8][10]

Recent career[edit]

Thornton published the book Food for Life in 2005.[8]

He has appeared on programmes such as The Afternoon Show.[8]

In February 2008, Thornton featured in the third episode of Guerrilla Gourmet, a television series which had six professional chefs attempt to set up their own temporary restaurant in an unusual location.[5][11] He chose to house his temporary restaurant at the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, having grown up in the area as a child.[5] He cooked rabbit, scallops and sea urchins for twenty-eight people without the use of electricity.[12]

In July 2008, the reality television series, Heat, was launched. Two series of the programme have been produced, with Thornton taking on rival chef Kevin Dundon in each.[13] He was Heat Champion in the second series but lost the first series to Dundon.[14][15]

In April 2009, Thornton co-launched the Taste of Dublin festival with Dundon.[16]

On 1 September 2016 it was announced that Thornton's Restaurant would close on 29 October 2016.[17]


  • Thornton was named Food & Wine Magazine's Chef of the Year for Ireland in 2007.[8]
  • Two Michelin stars: 2001-2005[18]
  • One Michelin star: 1996-2000 and 2006–2015[18][19]

Personal life[edit]

Thornton is married to his wife named Muriel.[8][9] He has two sons, Edward and Conor, and three grandchildren - Isaac, Esmee and Oscar.[5][9]

He is fond of photography and scuba diving.[5]


  1. ^ "Food Talk" Archived 9 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Newstalk. Accessed 25 April 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Ireland's Best Chef?". The Dubliner. 5 April 2007. Archived from the original on 22 October 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Our Michelin men's guide to a cheap, four-star lunch". Irish Independent. 22 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  4. ^ Patrick Guilbaud received his star first, but was born in France.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Programme 3". RTÉ. Accessed 25 April 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d "Sunday Times: Kevin Thornton". The Sunday Times. UK. 4 March 2007. Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  7. ^ "Refuel: Into Milano and out again **". Irish Independent. 24 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "HEAT – Kevin Dundon and Kevin Thornton". RTÉ. Accessed 25 April 2009.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Star of the Day". RTÉ Guide. 14 April 2009. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  10. ^ "Thornton's the shock casualty as Michelin star lost". The Irish Times.
  11. ^ "Guerrilla Gourmet hits the ring". The Munster Express. 10 January 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  12. ^ "Thornton sinks teeth into rival's Michelin star". Irish Independent. 3 February 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  13. ^ "Programme 8: Heat Final". RTÉ. Accessed 25 April 2009.
  14. ^ "Stars of The Day". RTÉ Guide. 16 February 2009. Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2009.
  15. ^ "Trevor Thornton (Team Thornton)". RTÉ. Accessed 24 April 2009.
  16. ^ "Ditch the bad pizza for fine dining say top gourmet chefs". Irish Independent. 21 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  17. ^ Pope, Conor (1 September 2016). "Leading chef Kevin Thornton to close Dublin restaurant". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 2 September 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2016.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) (subscription required)
  18. ^ a b Michelin Online Republic of Ireland Archived 8 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Thornton's the shock casualty as Michelin star lost". The Irish Times.