How does a business major from Co. Kerry end up working as a chef to the rich and famous in Los Angeles? The answer — Irish charm.

Gavan Murphy, 38, has been living and working in California for nine years. Monday through Friday Murphy makes his living preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for a family in L.A.  On weekends Murphy ups the tempo when he caters for the rich and famous at glitzy affairs

“It’s the best job in the world,” said Murphy, who has recently trademarked himself as “The Healthy Irishman.”

“As the name suggests, I’m an Irish guy who cooks healthy food,” Murphy told the Irish Voice in between meal preparations on Wednesday

Always a risk taker, Murphy decided Ireland’s climate wasn’t for him anymore, so he packed a bag and boarded a flight bound for Hollywood in 2000

“I arrived in June to the beautiful sunshine and I instantly knew I had made the right decision,” recalls Murphy

While earning a degree in marketing and business in Dublin, Murphy spent a summer in Martha’s Vineyard working as a kitchen help.  “I was bitten as soon as I got in,” he said

He started out washing dishes, quickly progressed to making sandwiches for lunch and finally got involved in the dinner preparations

“I was hooked.  I knew then I didn’t want a nine to five job in a suit and tie. I wanted this,” he said

Murphy went back to Ireland, got his degree in marketing and business and then quickly switched gears. He hung up the suit and threw on an apron

After realizing his passion late in life, Murphy secured a place in one of Ireland’s finest culinary schools, Ballymaloe Cookery School situated in the lush countryside of Co. Cork and run by Darina Allen, Ireland’s best known cook. “Ballymaloe Cookery School taught me not only the basics of cooking but also the importance of an organic lifestyle and sustainability,” he said

Murphy admits he never really had an interest in food until he was in his twenties

“I would make shepherd’s pie and lasagna in college but I really didn’t have a passion for it until I went to Martha’s Vineyard,” he admitted

After spending a few years working in Ireland and London, Murphy’s desire for fine weather and some glamour kicked in, so it wasn’t long before he found himself with a new tan and a new job

L.A. being the Mecca of health and fitness, Murphy, who hails from Tralee, Co. Kerry, knew if he wanted to stay on top of the game, it was necessary to mark out a niche for himself in the healthy food industry

“Definitely being Irish helped me a lot over here to get jobs,” he said proudly

Not long off the plane, the Kerry charmer found himself a job working with a prestigious L.A. catering company and soon Murphy was making a name for himself in L.A.’s culinary circles

Whispers of a new Irishman in town with healthy recipes up his sleeve turned into countless bookings.  Murphy was the go-to-guy for healthy cooking.  

“I’ve worked for a lot of famous people,” said Murphy

One of Murphy’s clients was supermodel Cindy Crawford

“When I began cooking for Cindy I was working for a well known L.A. caterer, Akasha Richmond. She needed someone to work with Cindy on a new fitness nutrition program and asked me to cook her meals every day,” Murphy said

“I would bring the specially portioned protein and carb food to Cindy’s house every day.”

Crawford was so impressed with Murphy’s recipes and personality — he cooked for her for four months — that she also hired him to cater her son’s fourth birthday

After working with Crawford, who subsequently recommended Murphy to her friends, he received bookings from other big names in Hollywood. He has cooked for Oscar winning film director James Cameron, actor and fellow Irishman Pierce Brosnan, actress Rachel Nichols, producer Scott Stuber and many other big wigs in L.A

In conjunction with working for a number of prestigious L.A.-based catering companies, Murphy is a consulting chef on the Body-For-LIFE program, a multi-national sports and nutrition company. Murphy, who met his wife Christy in L.A. three years ago, also contributes to an Irish fitness magazine called Life and Fitness

After finding his niche in healthy cooking, Murphy has taken things a step further and created a pseudonym and company called The Healthy Irishman

“It’s the right direction to go in for me. I am trying to teach people how to make healthy food tasty and interesting,” he said.  “It’s basically practicing what I preach.”

Murphy said if someone wants to eat healthy on a budget it’s only a matter of planning ahead and often buying the cheaper cuts of meat or fish. “You can buy tilapia for example in terms of your sea bass and it’s great,” he says

“It’s important not to overspend on food and be smart what your spending it on, but most importantly planning ahead will save you money. For example, if you buy enough food for a casserole it can last a few days. Or make a pot of soup and freeze if for another time.”