Neven Maguire was born to Joe and Vera Maguire. He began cooking at the age of twelve in the kitchen of his family restaurant, MacNean's in Blacklion, County Cavan. The restaurant, purchased by Joe in 1969, was to be greatly affected by The Troubles, being bombed twice and shutting down for more than a decade between 1976 and 1989. Maguire exited school following his Junior Certificate at the age of sixteen to pursue his love of cookery. He took over the business as Head Chef and Proprietor in 2003.
Neven attended Enniskillen College of Food. Upon graduating from college, he worked in several Michelin starred restaurants in Europe. He commenced his overseas career in Berlin. Neven also worked in Roscoff Restaurant, Belfast, Northern Ireland (1 Michelin Star), The Grand Hotel Restaurant, Berlin, Germany (2 Michelin Stars), Lea Linster Restaurant, Luxembourg (2 Michelin Stars) and Arzac Restaurant, San Sebastian, Spain (3 Michelin Stars).
Neven is married to Amelda. He is a father to twins born on 8 February 2012. Amelda went downhill and nearly died during labour after her heart failed.
Neven was Resident Chef on Open House television series from 1998 until 2004. He has also featured in a number of other television programmes including 10 of the Best; Neven Cooks, a 6-part series which is broadcast in South Africa, Australia and on Food Network; Cook with Love, a documentary on his participation in the World Cooking Competition in Lyon in 2002 and Neven's Food from the Sun.
Maguire was involved in a controversy in August 2009 when he appeared alongside the bikini-wearing model Georgia Salpa and a plate of food on the cover of Food & Wine magazine. A national radio debate on Liveline saw feminists object to the treatment of Georgia Salpa and the magazine's publisher apologised and admitted it had been an error which had occurred whilst she had been absent from work. One female caller suggested the photos were "evidence of a pernicious heteronormativity", whilst another complained that "women are here to please men and we're supposed to have these perfect bodies". Another caller also expressed disappointment: "I really don't see what this [bikini model] has to do with the pic [sic]. And I'm really disappointed with the women that they partake in this as well". Callers also expressed fears that the photos would lead to rape and the sexualisation of children.
John Masterson, writing in the Irish Independent, accused Liveline of "manufacturing" the fight, called the radio show a "kangaroo-court" and questioned why football manager Giovanni Trapattoni ("who had one more model than Neven in the same paper") was not equally guilty according to the feminists. However, Catherine O'Mahony, writing in The Sunday Business Post, praised the apology given by the magazine publisher as the whole affair was "pretty embarrassing for everyone connected with it". Model Nadia Forde furthered the controversy by saying "I don't think any chef would make it into a newspaper on his own", causing upset in the Irish cooking community and leading chef Derry Clarke to respond with the remark: "We [chefs] don't need models to make the papers. I have been in plenty of papers without the help of models". Neven Maguire remained tightlipped on the issue. He was not paid for his involvement in the photo shoot and five other chefs were also present to be photographed.
Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Fine Dining (2008)
Food & Wine's 'Ulster Best Restaurant' Award 2009, 2008, 2004, 2003, 2002
Food & Wine's 'Restaurant of the Year' Award 2008
Food & Wine's 'Ulster Best Chef' Award 2009, 2008, 2007, 2004
Georgina Campbell's Restaurant of the Year Award 2007
Special Award for Culinary Achievements and Tourism Promotion from Cavan County Council 2007
Georgina Campbell's Natural Food Award 2006
Jameson Chef of the Year 2004
Represented Ireland in the Bocuse d'Or World Cuisine Competition in Lyon, France 2001
^ abcdefghTom Doorley (22 November 2008). "Blacklion's day in the sun". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 October 2009. "'THE RECESSION MUST be biting," a fellow diner said to be me as we sat down in MacNean House and Restaurant in Blacklion, Co Cavan. "Neven's waiting list is down to six months." [...] Neven has been cooking since the age of 12 when he started to help his mother Vera in the kitchen. Vera and her husband, the late Joe Maguire, bought the restaurant in 1969. This was unfortunate timing. The Northern troubles erupted and Blacklion suffered two bomb attacks, both which destroyed the front of the premises. The Maguires struggled on until 1976. Then they closed the restaurant and switched to the bed and breakfast business, for which there was considerable demand because of the swelling numbers of customs officials and Gardaí. By 1989, the restaurant was open again. Vera had kept her hand in by running a catering business, and Joe took over the front of house role. Neven, now aged 16, was so convinced that he wanted to cook that he left school after the Junior Cert and headed over the border to Fermanagh College in Enniskillen. His first overseas post was at a grand hotel in Berlin. "The chef took me over to this huge fridge and showed me the beef and the lamb. And he told me it was all Irish because Irish is best. It was a very proud moment for me," he recalls."
^Marie-Claire Digby (11 April 2009). "Pressure Cookers". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 October 2009. "The clock is ticking, the judges are circling, pots are simmering on stoves. Work stations have become battle stations. It's the final of the Baileys/Euro-Toques young chef of the year. [...] Neven Maguire of MacNean House and Restaurant is being characteristically friendly, and reminiscing about his win in this competition, and how much it meant to him: “one of the best days of my life,” he says, with conviction, and a great dollop of charm."