You've Been Served: JP McMahon

Denise O'Donoghue hears from Michelin Star chef and cookbook author JP McMahon
You've Been Served: JP McMahon

Denise O'Donoghue hears from Michelin Star chef and cookbook author JP McMahon

JP McMahon is a Michelin Star chef. He is Culinary Director of the award-winning EATGalway Restaurant Group, which comprises Aniar Restaurant, Cava Bodega and Tartare Café + Wine Bar. JP recently published The Irish Cookbook. He will be running a pop-up restaurant at the Cork International Hotel in the near future (date TBC).

I’ve worked in this industry since I was 15. I’ve always loved food, and food seems to have found me. I am still trying to escape! I manage three restaurants and I cook as much as possible. We have a staff of 45 and there’s lots of different things that I have to do. I am also the director of Food on the Edge — organising the event takes the whole year. And I write a weekly column in the Irish Times.

My typical workday is long. From 9am, when I drop the kids off, till about midnight, usually six or seven days a week. I gave up trying to distinguish days on from days off. When you run three restaurants, and two of them are open seven days a week, you end up working most days. When you run a restaurant, you have to learn how to do a lot of things you never thought you’d have to do. Dealing with overflowing toilets, ironing aprons, fixing cookers — it could be anything.

One of my proudest moments was opening Cava in 2008. We borrowed money from friends and family to open, so when we opened we just had to put everything into it. We had to be busy from the start. I enjoy trying to change Irish food culture. I wanted to bring Irish food to a new generation of people.

I felt what we have investigated over the last 10 years in Aniar could bring a new dimension to Irish food, particularly on the international stage.

This led to the publication of The Irish Cookbook.

The current food scene is extremely strong but also quite delicate. On the one hand we have never had such good food and access to it. Ireland is becoming known internationally for its food. However, on the other side of the equation, we have people eating more processed food and many with no knowledge of how to cook. It is paramount in the next few years that we address this and develop a mandatory food subject in our schools. It’s critical we know how to cook for ourselves.

I love to cook simple food a home: a roast chicken with herbs and butter or a leg of lamb with hay. But when all comes to all, probably my favourite dish is spaghetti bolognese.

My daughters love it and I always like eating it together with them.

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