Faced with the prospect of missing the All-Ireland rematch this weekend, top chef Mark Moriarty had to make a quick decision. He was booked to fly to Peru Saturday morning to cook in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima, until the shock draw between Kerry and Dublin.
“I had to go and change my flight because I couldn’t miss the rematch,” he says.
There was simply no other option for the “passionate” lifelong supporter of the Kerry GAA team. Though he’s “Dublin born and bred”, his father Tom is from Ventry and supporting the county team has long been their “thing”.
“I wear my Kerry jersey with pride,” he says.
The 2015 winner of the global San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year, he divides his time between Michelin-starred restaurant, The Greenhouse in Dublin, television, consultancy and work as a brand ambassador.
Along the way, he’s cooked with the famed Italian chef Massimo Bottura, and chatted with American actor Stanley Tucci — “in the toilet no less” — about Italian food.
Does he ever pinch himself? “I pinch myself and say stop this,” he says with a tired laugh. He knows there is only so much he can pile on his plate: “I’m 27 — I’ll do it for the next few years.”
Mark presents Beyond the Menu, RTÉ One, Mondays, 7.30pm. The series goes behind the doors of some of Ireland’s top restaurants run by young chefs.
What shape are you in?
I could be better but I could be a lot worse. I do my best, more for mental health, to get a swim in two or three times a week — I’ve always [lived] by the sea. If I’m up in Dublin — I’ll go for a run out Killiney way and swim in White Rock beach; if I’m down in Kerry I’ll run on the beach in Ventry and go for a swim there. I divide my time between the two places.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
It’s easier in the summer — we try to do nice staff meals with not so many carbohydrates. At the weekends when I’m cooking at home, I use the barbecue a lot. And, instead of having carbohydrates and bread, we’ll bulk up with veg, or replace rice with quinoa. Our housemates are big into healthy eating so that helps.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
I’m mad about burgers. Bunsen in Dublin is one of my favourites. After a long’s day work, the last thing I want to eat is a salad or spinach.
What would keep you awake at night?
By the time I get home after midnight it’s easy enough to sleep. Something I’ve worked on a lot the last few years is to leave work at the door and to completely switch off my mind.
How do you relax?
I’m sports mad — golf is the one I play. I play most Sundays. I switch my phone off and head out for five hours.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
My housemates Brian and Sophie and my girlfriend Grainne. Then I would have Padraig Harrington, Gordon Ramsey, and Marcelo Bielsa, the current Leeds United football manager.
What’s your favourite smell?
I love the smell of gorse flower when it’s in season — you know that coconut/suncream type smell.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
There isn’t anything, actually. You accept yourself for who you are and not worry about minor details. I’ve grown to love my red hair.
When is the last time you cried?
The only thing that gets me emotional is sport. The closest I came [to tears] was probably when Dublin’s Dean Rock got that free during injury time at the All-Ireland final. Myself and my father were in the Hogan Stand.
What traits do you least like in others?
I don’t really like arrogance. I hope I would never come across that way — there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I struggle sometimes when I’m so focused on one thing to see the bigger picture. Balance is the key word.
Do you pray?
No. I think that I’m part of a generation maybe that doesn’t really associate as much with organised religion. But there would be moments every now and then that you have your own way of doing it.
What would cheer up your day?
Something as simple as if I’m off during the week and Grainne is at work — I’ll meet a couple of friends from school and just go for a cup of tea. Sometimes we go to Eddie Rockets.