Lizzie Gore-Grimes catches up with Katie Sanderson, the endlessly innovative young chef behind a host of inspiring food projects including Living Dinner suppers, Dillisk pop-up restaurant in Connemara and a residency in the Fumbally Stables – to name just a few!
My food story began when I was four years old. I got a Fisher Price plastic kitchen set and never looked back!
My favourite ingredient to work with is seaweed. I pick all the seaweed that I cook with by hand and I love the connection to the sea and nature that comes with that.
My favourite foodie film (although I rarely watch TV) would be Like Water For Chocolate. It’s about a girl who was born under the kitchen table. Everything she cooks takes on her emotions and those emotions are fed to the people that eat her food – heartbreak, love and laughter. I love the way the story highlights how the food we make is so linked to our feelings and mood.
My top three places to eat right now would include The Fumbally Café. I’m totally biased, but there is such diversity here. One day the menu might boast an amazing ramen, then brilliant fish tacos and mushrooms on toast. I love East Side Tavern (eastsidetavern.ie) the head chef Niall is creating really impressive food with an emphasis on interesting foraged ingredients like woodruff and meadowsweet. Choosing one thing and doing it right is also beautiful thing, as Dough Bros woodfired pizza (thedoughbros.ie) in Galway have done. I love the way they have worked from street food to restaurant.
My go-to midweek meal is peas, peas, peas – simply served with black pepper and olive oil.
A photo posted by katie (@katiejsanderson) on
During my residency at the Fumbally Stables we got rid of all shop-brought drinks and replaced them with a selection we made in-house – organic cold press juices, black sesame almond milks, Kombucha and ginger bugs (fermented drinks that are good for the gut and naturally carbonated). We also produced our own vinegar with the waste from juicing. It’s a project I’m really proud of.
My latest obsession is making black garlic. Simply stick a few heads of garlic in a rice cooker and leave it on the keep warm setting for three weeks then whizz the blackened cloves with some mushroom vinegar and a wee bit of honey and you have the tastiest umami-rich sauce going.
The best meal I’ve had in the last year was at Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s Le Chateaubriand, Paris (lechateaubriand.net).
A visit to Bar Tartine in San Francisco influenced me hugely on the Dillisk project [a hugely popular pop-up restaurant Katie ran in Connemara over the summer]. I ate in Bar Tartine just before the project kicked off. They make everything from scratch: butter, all cheeses (blue, feta and parmesan), katsuboshi (cured fish for making daishi), vinegars, drinks. I was so taken with their ethos I went and did a stage in their kitchen as soon as Dillisk finished up.
The Bar Tartine cookbook and Christian Puglisi’s cookbook (of Relae in Copenhagen) are amazing – and full of fascinating information on how they run their kitchens.
My edible guilty pleasure is anything with coconut.
My most precious foodie possession at the moment is my collection of Fingal Ferguson knives – his range of Irish handcrafted knives are completely unique and beautiful. I have a growing collection and a slight addiction.
My last meal on earth would be something my partner Jasper and I cook for each other which is basically a grain with lots and lots of peas, to make this crunchy, nutty thing called tabery rayu, served with kimchi and an egg on top.
I’m never quite sure what’s next for me. Things change so quickly but I’m drawn to the idea of starting a semi-permanent restaurant that opens for the Irish summer. Then I can spend the winter learning and travelling and working on different projects. It might be a bit of an idealistic dream I’ll try make it happen!