I’ve a horse (box) outside

Chad Byrne, Head Chef at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney, has big plans for the horsebox he bought on Done Deal recently. He’s set to go down the mobile catering route and will soon be selling delicious fare from ‘The Hungry Donkey’ (name is still up for debate, he says). The new venture is as much about keeping himself financially healthy as it is about doing something new and fresh. “At the moment, it’s unclear whether I’ll be working a full week in The Brehon or be on three days, like I was last year. The wolves are slowly coming to the door so I need to make sure I have a stable income. I’m also incredibly excited about the type of food I’ll be cooking; I have every faith in my ability as a chef and I know this is something that I’ll have fun with.”

During each lockdown, Chad has kept himself busy. “This one has been the most rewarding as I have my children with me, which I didn’t for the other two. In the first one, I did a huge amount of charity work with Meals on Wheels in Tralee. I got a group of chefs together through a network I created called ‘Chef Collab’ and together, we served between 300 and 400 people a day.” In the second lockdown, Chad set up ‘Chef v Chef’ on Instagram, an initiative which brought 36 chefs and 28 suppliers together.

At the moment, Chad is trialling various dishes that may or may not end up on The Hungry Donkey’s menu. “It’ll be dishes like Amsterdam schwarma pumped up on steroids along with some nostalgic classics pumped up to the nines. There’ll be a huge emphasis on local produce and value is key. Overall, it’ll be very different to what’s out there.” The Hungry Donkey’s food offering will also be in complete contrast to the dishes he prepares at The Brehon. “The shackles are off. With something like the horsebox, you can be way more experimental. It’s the perfect tool for a chef to let his or her hair down.”

The horsebox, which Chad stripped and sandblasted himself, is now with the fabricator. “For a job like this, you need a licensed fabricator. If you do everything yourself, you won’t get insured.” He hopes to open the new business by the end of April. “I’m nervous about what’s around the corner but you have to be optimistic. This has been an absolute godsend, I can’t wait to get started!”

Follow Chad’s horsebox journey on Instagram @pimpmyhorsebox