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  • In Sage we do 12 mile sourcing, but if you can’t do 12 you can do 20. If you can’t do 20, you can do 50. It is about a thought process and a commitment. And it will come back to you in local support and in many other ways.

    Kevin Ahern

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    Twitter: @sagemidleton



    Kevin Ahern

    Kevin Ahern

    Taking local to a new level | Midleton, Cork

    Kevin Aherne had never planned on being a chef, but you would be hard pushed to find anyone more committed to what they do. He ‘fell into it’ when visiting his brother in the US; being too young to get any other job, he ended up working in a kitchen.  Returning to Ireland he embarked on culinary college, but only stuck with it a year and a half, favouring the experience to be gained working full-time in professional kitchen. 

    After about four years working in America, Australia, Canada and Ireland, he opened Sage restaurant in Midleton in 2008, aged 24. From day one local sourcing was at the core of Sage, but it was only when Kevin began to notice how almost everyone was marketing themselves as ‘local’ and became frustrated that local was not at all defined, that he decided he wanted to ‘do it right’. In 2012, he made the bold move of closing Sage and re-opening it one month later as a ’12-mile’ restaurant. Everything is sourced within 12 miles of the premises; something he describes as “an enjoyable challenge”, difficult at the start but increasingly easier as they became more educated, more familiar with the seasons, and producers started coming to them. He describes his cooking as ‘definitely modern Irish’; “using the same ingredients that were available 100 years ago, and combining old and new cookery techniques to treat the product creatively but with respect”.

    His ’12 Mile Menu’ has garnered attention from the likes of the Financial Times and more and more tourists are coming looking for a ‘true local experience’. For Kevin there is no better place in the world to do it; East Cork has the right balance of “sunlight and rain, rich farmland and coastline”. To the fine dining offering at Sage, they have added the more casual Green Room and courtyard, where the ethos is still ’12-mile’ but also incorporates other ingredients.

    Another innovation from Kevin has been the establishment of his own Chef Apprenticeship scheme, where he takes people with little or no experience and trains them for four years, using a ‘buddy’ system to pass skills down the line, after which they must go and work somewhere else. Kevin is also very involved with the Midleton Food Festival.