Chef Mark Moriarty is back on our television screens tonight, returning for the second season of his hit cooking show.
The RTÉ programme, which was inspired by the closure of restaurants during the pandemic, focuses on making easy meals with home staples so that you don’t have to run out to the shop to find ingredients.
“I’m delighted to be asked back to do it again a year on. I suppose it means the first season was a bit of a success and I’m hoping this season will be along the same lines as last year and people will enjoy it,” the Dublin-born chef says.
“It’s pretty simple food that people will be able to make at home with a couple of chef tricks to jazz up what they already know. There are over 30 new recipes across eight episodes and every episode is themed. The first one tonight is about meat and there’s a nice bacon and cabbage recipe with parsley sauce, which is my favorite dinner.”
Mark, who previously worked under top chef Kevin Thornton before moving to the kitchen at The Greenhouse on Dawson St in Dublin, was named Irish Young Chef of the Year in 2013. He shares the record for youngest title-holder, winning at age 21, with Neven Maguire.
As well as his favourite bacon and cabbage, he’ll also be making three other recipes during tonight’s programme: bolognese with garlic bread, chicken kievs from scratch, and spicy pork tacos.
All filming for the programme followed Covid-19 guidelines, with Mark even using his own phone to film some close-up shots of the meals.
“We start off the season with meat and fish but we tried to focus episodes on staples everyone might have as well so there’s a whole episode on potatoes, an episode on pasta, and then I did a whole episode on vegetables. So, there should be something for everyone to make with stuff they’re going to have in their kitchen already,” he says.
The 29-year-old originally started cooking as a teenager during summers in his father’s homeland of Dingle, so he has always had an appreciation for the quality of fresh fish and local ingredients.
“I think that the message of the importance of using local ingredients has really got through and I know a lot of local suppliers have been really busy over the last year,” he says.
“This year we’re sponsored by the National Dairy Council on the show as well so there’s definitely a focus on using Irish dairy; milk, cream, and butter, which I love using in my recipes.”
With this new season, Mark hopes that people can really hone any cooking skills they may have picked up during lockdown, and will continue to make new recipes from home even after restrictions ease.
“One of the very few positives of the last year, from a food point of view, is that everyone is cooking a lot more and I think people have gotten more of an interest or an appreciation for going that little bit extra at home to make nice food and to use local producers as well.”