DESCRIBE AN AVERAGE DAY… I rise at about 8am every morning. Sometimes later, depending on how late the night before was! Usually after my breakfast, I check emails and look at my diary for the day. Meetings are organised these days in my new Samsung Kitchen. I am very proud of it and am delighted to show it off. I’d spend a good part of each day working on menus, recipes for different projects – not just for l’Ecrivain, but also for TV, magazines, etc. On the days we are open for lunch, I am there for service. All the team tries to take a break between lunch and dinner, having left everything ready for another evening’s service.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE YOUR CAREER AS A CHEF? It was a summer job in Kinsale about 100 years ago, and I discovered that I not only liked cooking, but that I was good at it too. Sallyanne, my wife, and I started l’Ecrivain restaurant in 1989 in a basement premises on Lower Baggot Street with 36 seats, just four doors from where we are now. After moving in 1994, and acquiring the premises adjoining us, we now have this version of l’Ecrivain that accommodates 136 seats, and includes our new Samsung Kitchen, seating 20 plus; our Salon Privé, which seats around 20; our Malt Room, which seats twelve; and then you have the main dining room. We are a bustling business and work hard to stay on trend. I love meeting the customers and the buzz of the place. Being in the restaurant industry is definitely more of a vocation than a career.
WHAT ACTIVITIES DO YOU ENJOY? I am not really sporty but I am a big Leinster Rugby and Arsenal Football fan. Boating has been a passion of mine since childhood. I have a little motorboat, which I use as often as I can, but sometimes work gets in the way. Cycling is my new hobby. I took it up last year and trained for and completed the 700km from Paris to Nice. It was a fairly gruelling cycle over six days with a great group of people. Our team not only raised funds for Console, but we also generated some much-needed awareness for a cause very close to my heart.
HOW IMPORTANT IS FOOD TO OVERALL WELLNESS? Extremely. If you put diesel into a petrol engine, you know what happens. A balanced diet using fresh ingredients, remembering to have plenty of green vegetables and your five-a-day is important. Also, we don’t drink enough water. Hydration is also an essential part of any diet.
WHAT ARE YOUR HERO INGREDIENTS? Humble ones, such as onions, garlic, root vegetables, tomatoes, fresh herbs, fish and the off-cuts of meat.
WHICH COOKS/CHEFS/ FOOD WRITERS DO YOU ADMIRE? It is difficult to answer this question, as there are so many. However, the culinary heroes that spring to mind immediately are Kevin Thornton, Richard Corrigan, JP McMahon and Myrtle Allen, with so many more to mention. Food writers – again there are so many, but Georgina Campbell, Marilyn Bright and Mairin Ui Chomain are a few that come to mind. John and Sally McKenna must be mentioned and I love reading Tom Doorley, Ernie Whalley and AA Gill.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE STRESS? Not very well. However, I find that cycling, the gym and a really good book often help.
WHAT ARE YOUR WELLNESS GOALS FOR 2016? Physically, I want to keep cycling and visit the gym. Mentally, to concentrate on business and in particular the Samsung Kitchen. I feel that this live kitchen is something completely different. As food is the new entertainment, there’s an added enjoyment in looking and learning about what you eat, as the fresh food is prepared in front of you. And you can see the amazing Samsung Chef Collection products in action in a working kitchen.