Mickael Viljanen becomes chef patron of Chapter One as Ross Lewis steps out of the kitchen

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

One Michelin Star chef Ross Lewis is stepping aside from the Chapter One kitchen  after almost three decades. Mickael Viljanen, former head chef at The Greenhouse, is the new chef and co-owner of the dublin restaurant.

The decision, Ross said in a statement, will allow him to focus on his Italian restaurant, Osteria Lucio, located on Clanwilliam Terrace, which he plans to upgrade over the coming year.

He will, however, remain in the business as a partner and continue to work with Mickael for some years to come, he said, "so that our customer experience is as seamless and hopefully more enjoyable than ever when the restaurant reopens.”

Chef Ross Lewis has spent almost three decades in the kitchen at Chapter one, and retained a Michelin star for 15 years. Mickael Viljanen, previously head chef at two Michelin-starred Dublin restaurant, The Greenhouse, will be taking over as chef and co-owner. The restaurant will be renamed Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen.

Commenting on his decision to step out from behind the stove, Ross said: “Words cannot remotely describe the three-decade journey I have been on, and the incredibly valuable contribution from staff, past and present, some of whom have been long-serving, cannot be measured.

"The team is looking forward now to a new challenge. Irish customers are the best in the world - full stop - and we have been extremely blessed with their patronage. I have been so fortunate to have met such varied people from all walks of life, both domestic and international. I have been really lucky to be part of the great Irish food family, from the farmers and fishermen, the small artisan producers, right up to the food journalists, people with generosity in their hearts.”

“Having used this difficult period of Covid closure to reflect on my career,” he added, “I feel the time is now right to step away from the Chapter One kitchen to allow for a new creative energy to build on the foundations of the last 29 years’ work.

"Although this moment is bittersweet, I am also excited about welcoming Mickael to Chapter One; he is a hugely talented chef who is ready to become chef-patron.

Meanwhile, Mickael said: “After much consideration I have decided to do what I have been dreaming of for a long time and work for myself.

"I am happy to be investing in Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen and there is great comfort in the fact that Ross will stay on as a partner to help ensure the new establishment runs perfectly. We are refurbishing the restaurant, somewhat reducing covers to focus on the food and service in exceptional detail.

"My main focus now," he added, "is to get my head down in the kitchen and prepare to welcome back Chapter One customers, alongside guests who have followed me over the years, as well as anyone who loves a great, accessible dining experience, from the four corners of this island.”

Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen will reopen as soon as government restrictions allow, and all valid Chapter One vouchers will be honoured, with an additional one-year grace period.

About Mickael Viljanen

Orignally from Finland, Mickael moved to Ireland in his mid-twenties, working with Paul Flynn at The Tannery in County Waterford before joining The Greenhouse in 2012.

The Greenhouse was awarded its first star in the Michelin Guide 2016, and subsequently received a second in the 2020 guide. Mickael Viljanen is regarded by many as one of the best chefs currently cooking in Ireland.

In an interview last year, Mickael told us about the plight of restaurants in Ireland, where the hospitality industry has endured some of the world's tightest restrictions and had to deal with successive lockdowns with barely any notice. 

He said: "The way it seems to be going is that they've tightened up the lockdown and their support measures are going down," adding that "what they don't seem to see if that with us wiped out, there will be no [tax] revenue," and that  he said, and whatever the cost of supporting the industry, is "minimal compared to the destruction that's caused by the virus itself and closing down places."

Despite the hardship, he struck a positive tone, indicating that he had every intention of sticking around as head chef at The Greenhouse.

He said: "When we go back, we'll push even harder again and we'll try to make sure that we're better and we've upped our game, and try to keep on top of it and develop and get better and better and better."

"I know it's very easy to say - if you're running a business, you're stressed by the situation. But that situation is not going to change by being negative."

"That negative attitude, it's like cancer, it spreads and it doesn't help anything and I think that's very very important to remember - as bad as things are, it shall pass."

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 21st May 2021

Mickael Viljanen becomes chef patron of Chapter One as Ross Lewis steps out of the kitchen