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In the Kitchen with… Chef Conor Powell

By Lori Draz

Accomplished, handsome and 100 percent full of Irish spirit, Chef Conor Powell of Red Bank’s Dublin House is a culinary powerhouse with a snappy wit and an incredible pedigree and career. He is originally from Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland, where his family owned restaurants. He graduated from the Royal Culinary Institute of London which recommended him to Paris’ famous Maison Blanche. After 14 months, he transferred to The Montreux Palace in Lake Geneva, Switzerland before moving onto London’s legendary Dorchester Hotel to work with the acclaimed Sir Anton Mosimann, developer of Cuisine Naturelle. 

Though he is from Ireland, he proudly states, “I’m Irish by birth and American by choice.” In the States, he and business partner Eugene operated a restaurant in the shadow of the World Trade Centers. Following the attack, he went on to work as a private chef including spending six months in Rio De Janerio as the personal chef for Calvin Klein. Other of his numerous celebrity clients included John and Kelly Travolta, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick, and Lloyd Blankfine, CEO of Goldman Sachs in Miami. 

It was his partner who suggested this New Yorker try venturing to New Jersey, and he immediately saw the possibilities in this historic gem. “You know this restaurant was originally the Dubliner,” he shared. “It was moved by barge to its current 30 Monmouth St. location. It needed some love to help it live on, and I knew I could help. We have kept its detail while upgrading its menu.” 

What is your favorite way to relax? I like to dine out as often as possible. I’m a completely non-judgmental diner, so don’t panic if you see me in your restaurant. I’m also a runner, walker and swimmer. It helps me process stress and plan menus. I also meditate for 30 minutes every morning. It opens my creative side. 

Do you have a favorite ingredient? I could say something exotic like pate de foie gras, but mine dates back centuries and is the basis of just about every dish: onions and garlic. The kitchen could not run without them and leeks – ala crème, sautéed, etc. – these earthy essentials give any recipe real depth. 

What’s your favorite item in the kitchen? My char grille. It makes lovely crusts and char marks and home chefs can add a small home version for that restaurant touch. I also love my Salamander. It’s my right arm. I do everything with it. You should try my teriyaki salmon.

What’s your favorite at-home recipe? Two words: Grub Hub. I cook very little at home because I enjoy tasting other chef’s creations. I do enjoy preparing and sharing my Osso Bucco, which is marinated for 24 hours and served with forest mushrooms and white truffles. Add some Shiraz and a slice of my homemade key lime pie or apple cobbler, and you’ve got a happy dining room.

Anything else you want to share? I speak fluent French (even with my Irish accent). The secret to our success is the food and our great staff and wonderful customers. It creates that special warmth you feel here. And I also must tip my hat to Miss Patterson, our resident ghost who plays pranks with my office furniture and who has been known to visit the ladies’ room too where she turns on the air dryers. She’s part of the charm of this beautiful old building. 

Dublin House Irish Coddlor

2 lbs. of Irish Bangers

4 slices of thick cut bacon cut into pieces

1 sliced onion

2 minced garlic cloves

3 sliced carrots

3 potatoes cut into cubes

2 bay leaves

1 leek

3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

3 sprigs of thym

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

1 dash of allspice

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until almost crispy. Remove and set aside in a small bowl. Cut the Irish bangers into 3 pieces and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat until nicely browned. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, then add the bacon back in. Add the potatoes, carrots, leek, bay leaves, thyme and stock and sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Cover and cook about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and add the allspice and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

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