Pastry chef Aoife Noonan is one of the food collaborators for this year’s House of Peroni. Aoife was the executive pastry chef at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud’s, before moving to Luna. She is currently in Italy with Francesco Mazze, acclaimed Italian chef based in London (of Masterchef and Saturday Kitchen), learning about the art of Italian pastry and gelato. She will work with Francesco to create the pastry/dessert menu for this year’s upcoming House of Peroni and spoke to IMAGE.ie about the art of chocolate, food she couldn’t live without eating and where her last meal on earth would be.
When did you first become interested in food?
When I was three I got a wooden kitchen for Christmas, so I suppose you could stay it started young! I always remember my mum baking when I was younger, and I used to help her out, whether it was a carrot cake, a Victoria sponge or scones. In secondary school, I started developing a greater interest in food, which led me to do a culinary arts degree. This showed me the possibilities of food and made me really respect pastry.
What’s your favourite food to cook with/pastry dish to prepare?
I love working with chocolate. Everyone loves chocolate and you can create something unique out of nothing – it’s an art. For The House of Peroni, we have a delicious chocolate cream filled choux pastry, which is topped with a chocolate craquelin. That’s one of my favourites!
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
Dinner at The Ledbury in London. The whole experience was flawless. I had the tasting menu and every single dish was bursting with flavour and the service was impeccable.
How did your collaboration with Francesco and Peroni come about?
Francesco Mazzei is the Master of Taste for Peroni and they were looking for Irish chefs to partner with him to develop the food menus for The House of Peroni in Dublin. This collaboration appealed to me because I think I have a very similar set of values to Peroni Nastro Azzurro, which makes it a perfect match. When it comes to the beer, Peroni is all about the highest quality ingredients, attention to detail and craftsmanship in brewing – which are values I very much share in my career as a chef. In terms of the House of Peroni, I was excited by the prospect of working with Francesco and bringing great Italian Food to Dublin.
Describe a high point of your food journey so far?
I won the Valrhona patisserie competition in Dublin, which is a leading chocolate competition for pastry chefs. The prize was to go to Paris to work with some of the best French chefs. This gave me the opportunity to learn from the best in the industry. As a chef, I never stop learning, so this was a real high point for me.
Who has influenced your culinary life?
For me, it is more about what has influenced me than who. Travelling and experiencing different cultures and cuisines has really influenced me. I recently visited Rome and I was massively inspired by what I saw. London is another great source of influence for me. When I can’t travel, social media is a massive influence, everything is so accessible online.
What’s your edible guilty pleasure?
A good cheeseboard with charcuterie, good bread and a fruit chutney. I don’t order dessert when I go out to eat, cheese is what does it for me.
What would your last meal on earth be?
A good roast with my family. A leg of lamb with all of the trimmings. It’s not just the food, but the conviviality and just enjoying a good meal together.
What’s next for you?
The House of Peroni is next on the agenda, with doors opening on Thursday, 25th May. After that, I’ve got Taste of Dublin in June and one or two other projects in the pipeline.
The House of Peroni makes its eagerly anticipated return to Dublin for the second year this coming May. The two-week residency will run from Thursday, 25th May until Sunday, 4th June, reprising its spot on the rooftop of 1 Dame Lane in the heart of the city centre. It will offer guests a fresh and innovative take on contemporary Italian food, a taste of Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s unique infusions, and one of the best views in the city. Open to the public each night, there is no booking required and no admission fee. Over 18s only and entry is on a first come first served basis. For the latest updates, or visit www.thehouseofperoni.com.