Chef/proprietor of Michelin-starred Chapter One, Dublin. His new cookbook, Chapter One: An Irish Food Story, was awarded Irish Dairy Board ‘Listowel Food Book of the Year’, 2013.
On Christmas Day
If we stay up in Dublin, we go for a swim in the 40-Foot with my father-in-law, my wife, my sister-in-law and our kids. It’s a bit of a ritual, in their family, to go to one aunt and uncle for a couple of glasses of champers. Some years, we’d go down to Cork, to be fed by the Mammy, but, this year, they’re coming up and I’m cooking for the inlaws, and my sister and brother-in-law and their children.
My Christmas ‘guilty pleasure’
I only ever eat turkey at Christmas and I love a bronze turkey. I always love capons stuffed with spinach, foie gras and brioche, and goose is my other thing. I love it and only eat it once a year, around Christmas.
My ideal ‘food present’ would be
It usually takes the form of books. I treat myself to a white truffle and one bottle of very good-vintage champagne, or a good-vintage red burgundy.
What is the strangest place you’ve eaten Christmas dinner
[Laughing at the memory] A two-bed bedsit in Corona, in Queens, in New York, in the ’80s. Myself and (Irish Examiner journalist) Michael Clifford shared a pizza and 24 tins of Budweiser.
Other than family and friends, guests at my fantasy Christmas dinner would include
Peter Ustinov, Brendan Behan, Juliette Binoche, Tommy Cooper, Myrtle Allen, Ferran Adria and Jessica Lange. Growing up, Jessica was always my no-holds-barred fantasy woman. Years later, she walked into Chapter One to eat, but I was off. Juliette Binoche kind of took her place, and she was visiting Dublin and wanted to come in, but the only night she could make was a Monday, when we’re closed. I was even thinking of opening the restaurant for her especially.
I would serve
The finest of Irish food, featuring the very best producers: Irish shellfish, Irish game, the best of Irish cheese, all washed down with red and white burgundy.
My ‘food’ resolutions for the new year include
Visiting Boer Johnny, a three-star restaurant in Holland that does lots of fermentation, Aqua [another three-star restaurant], in Germany. I was also lucky enough to receive a great prize for winning the Listowel Food Book award — a culinary tour of Chicago — so I will be going to Alinea and I want to go to the River Café, in London, where I’ve never been.
My cooking tip this Christmas
Cook turkey breast-side down, to keep it moist, and put plenty of bacon on top. Parboil spuds, coat in polenta and roast in goose fat, with plenty of garlic.
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