The guys who are obsessed about food!

Young, ambitious, hard-working, and achingly cool, Bryan Phelan and Mike McGrath of The Sharp Knife, feature in our weekly column, My Weekend.
The guys who are obsessed about food!

Mike McGrath, left, and Bryan Phelan, co-founders of The Sharp Knife.

TELL us about yourselves:

Bryan Phelan is co-founder of The Sharp Knife guerrilla-style catering company specialising in authentic street food.

He holds a culinary arts degree, and his dual Irish/American citizenship has enabled extensive travel back and forth to America gaining valuable work experience. He has joined the team at “Rachel’s,” Rachel Allen’s first Cork restaurant.

Mike McGrath is also co-founder of The Sharp Knife, where his reinvention of classic street food dishes is inspired by his obsessions with music and food.

From Tipperary, Mike moved to Cork where he cheffed for two years before studying culinary arts at Cork Institute of Technology. Mike has joined the team at the respected Japanese take-away Miyazaki.

What’s your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Bryan: I like to eat out around the city, nothing special, maybe a burger or pizza somewhere. The Franciscan Well is an ideal spot, as it has a range of awesome beers and what I think is the best pizza in Cork, made by the lads from Pompeii pizza.

Mike: On the off-chance I’m not working, catching up with friends and family is definitely important to me. A sneaky pint and a pizza in the Fran Well on a Friday can’t be beaten.

Lie-ins or up with the lark… which is it for you?

Bryan: Lie ins are very rare at the moment for me, to be honest. Working full-time as a chef in the city and also having

The Sharp Knife, it’s hard to find time for a lie-in, as there’s always something to be doing.

Mike: I try to keep a balance of both, to be honest, depending on how busy I’ve been.

Normally, I’m up early, plotting the next Sharp Knife venture or working on new menu ideas for our existing events.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Bryan: Like every other chef, weekend = work, but as mad as it is, I enjoy it. When I do have a weekend off, I feel like a complete outsider socialising with all these weekend folk!

Mike: My weekend starts on a Sunday evening, as Miyazaki closes on a Monday, so I pack everything into one day. On a rare weekend off, I love to chill in Cork and maybe head to Kinsale. I love Twisted there, at the moment, their food is savage.

If money was no object, where would head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

Bryan: For a big food adventure, I’d love to visit places like Vietnam, New Orleans, and Mexico, but for a nice weekend away, somewhere funky, like Copenhagen or Sevilla.

Mike: A European city break for me would definitely be Berlin. Its street food scene is legendary. A little bit further afield with money not being an object, it would have to be São Paulo in Brazil.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

Bryan: I can find peace with the smaller things in life, like a good coffee on my day off or something so simple as making bread at home.

Mike: I try and get to Dublin every now and again to try out new places for a munch. Our usual haunt to stay is The Dean on Harcourt Street.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Bryan: I make it my business to meet up with friends and family as much as I can throughout the week, as both are very important to me. I love getting down to Ballyheigue in Kerry to see my grandmother and all the rest of my family down there, as my mother is originally from Kerry.

Mike: As much as I can either here in Cork or in Tipperary, where I’m from.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Bryan: My biggest hobby is food and always will be. I’m always switched on when it comes to food and constantly trying to better my knowledge of techniques, ingredients, cuisines, flavour combinations, sourcing… the list goes on. I’m a huge Man City fan and big into my music; anything from soulful blues to old-school hip hop.

Mike: Playing guitar was always one of my loves, so given the chance I love to play or get some gigs in. I’m also interested in botany; anything that grows fascinates me.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter, do you have a signature dish?

Bryan: I’m not one for entertaining, or being entertained. I’d rather a more relaxed night out in the city with good food and having the craic.

Mike: Both, but cooking at home for friends and family is always a winner.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork. Where are your go-to spots for coffee/lunch/special menu?

Bryan: For coffee, it has to be either Filter, Cork Coffee Roasters, Crane Lane, The Roundy or The Parlour. For lunch, it has to be The Oliver Plunkett for a sandwich or bowl of soup. I also enjoy The Rocket Man and Loving Salads. For late night, Arthur Maynes meat and cheeseboard kills it for me.

Mike: Coffee is Alchemy or Cork Coffee Roasters — proper Cork City coffee. For lunch, you can’t beat the Ruben from The Sandwich Stall in The English Market. Dinner is a biased one, but has to be Miyazaki. The choice is amazing and Japanese food is what I am really loving to explore at the moment.

Sunday night comes around too fast… how do you normally spend it?

Bryan: Sunday nights for me are usually all about relaxing, putting the feet up, or having a few drinks around town.

Mike: Sunday nights for me are usually spent at the cinema or at home spending hours upon hours online watching anything food/chef related.

  • is bringing The Sharp Knife and 8 Degrees Brewing together, on Saturday April 8 at Tops Pub. The event will celebrate the best of West Cork produce and explore new ways with craft beer. For tickets see for more

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