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Niall McKenna

Photo of Niall McKenna


Photo of Niall McKenna


Since the age of 16, Belfast chef Niall McKenna has been passionate about food and cooking. Now, with a growing portfolio including some of the most popular restaurants in Belfast, Niall has been rightfully hailed a ‘Tourism Hero’ by industry chiefs and has received a Belfast Telegraph Business Award in 2016 for his “Contribution to Hospitality and Tourism”.

Niall and his team continue to win numerous industry accolades. In 2015 alone, James Street South was named the Best Restaurant in Ireland by Georgina Campbell and the best restaurant in NI by the Waitrose Good Food Guide. David Gillmore won the Best Chef in Ireland at the Yes Chef! Niall and wife Joanne McKenna were recognised for their Outstanding Contribution to the industry.

Niall’s James Street South Group is a flag bearer for Northern Ireland’s food scene and rightfully champions the world-class quality of local produce. With four busy restaurants, the city’s famed Cookery School, and with a new venue in the pipeline for Donegall Quay, Niall remains a true leader for the industry.

Niall was honoured by the Association of Colleges with a Gold Award which recognises and celebrate the achievements of former college students. Niall reflects that his time at Belfast Met was the bedrock for “my career in Northern Ireland’s Hospitality Industry, and over the years many of the most gifted chefs we’ve had in our kitchens have followed the same vocational path. Courses like the NVQ are crucial in creating the next generation of hospitality excellence here, and at James Street South we work closely with Belfast Met in training applicants for our Apprentice Scheme, now in it’s fourth year. The training of our apprentices in the classroom creates a solid grounding for their experience in our kitchens, and provides an unrivalled start to their culinary careers.

Niall was named a visiting Professor of the University of Ulster in September 2016. His role will be operational for four years and he hopes to influence the next generation of hospitality students in their career choices.


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