When Longford’s celebrity chef Gary O’Hanlon creates a dish, he does so with style. Now the same can be said of his personal life. Recently the Viewmount’s cuisine guru took advantage of a romantic trip to Rome to pose one of the most important questions of his life. In front of the infamous Trevi Fountain the Donegal native got down on one knee and popped the question to Granard girl, Annette Kearney.
“We were actually in Positano on the Amalfi Coast for our friend Cathy Farrell’s wedding. Annette and I had to fly home on the Sunday so we caught a train from Naples to Rome. I knew we had seven hours before flying out – so I proposed,” said Gary.
The 34-year-old added: “It was a stunning day and so down on one knee I went. I finally got the YES!”
As one might guess, the celebrity RTE chef and his new bride-to-be celebrated with a gourmet meal.
“We went around the corner to a fabulous restaurant, busted open some champagne and we got a lovely round of applause from the customers and staff. It was perfect. I couldn’t be happier,” said Gary.
Annette, a teacher at Killasonna National School (NS), will marry Gary in March of next year. The venue for the reception is a foregone conclusion.
“It’s Viewmount House all the way. I will be watching the chefs from the comfort of the dining room. Yes, I’m looking after the food end of things and I’m really looking forward to it,” said the much-loved Longford chef.
While Longford may now lay claim to Gary, especially as he is to marry a Granard girl and settle in that area, Donegal still retains its right to call him an ambassador.
Recently, the native of Ramelton, County Donegal, was appointed Ambassador for Donegal Food.
“The biggest reason why I was chosen was that I have a national profile through RTE and Viewmount House. Also, I don’t work in Donegal so there is no conflict of interest there,” said Gary.
He continued: “The Donegal Food Strategy is a five year plan and they are trying to build up a network of producers and suppliers.”
Gary, who has been working in the food industry for 19 years, returned from America in 2005. It was then he first met with James and Beryl Kearney of Viewmount House. However, it was not until 2008 that he joined the team and three weeks later he met Annette, a niece and God-daughter of James Kearney.
Since that time the idyllic Longford venue has grown in popularity and reputation both locally and nationally. Among its key attributes is its commitment to sourcing local produce.
“It’s not rocket-science. Buying local produce is what should be happening everywhere,” he said.
He added: “It’s all well and good having chefs buying Irish ingredients but customers need to be asking for this too.”