Eoin Higgins talks to Mark Moriarty, previous winner of the San Pellegrino World Young Chef of the Year award, and sous chef at Dublin’s acclaimed two-Michelin star restaurant, The GreenHouse, about his new cookery series
Mark Moriarty’s new series, Cook-in, starts on RTÉ One this week. Here, the sparky chef shares his thoughts on the new show, easy lockdown dinner ideas, how he and fellow chefs are giving back during the pandemic, and what he's been doing with Kate & Will's leftovers ...
Hey Mark! Hi, how’s it going?
All good, so what’s the new show all about? It’s all about cooking simple, delicious recipes using ingredients that are readily available, right now. We’re also looking towards the kitchen cupboard for inspiration and showcasing some great Irish produce, and I’ll be chatting to, and showcasing, some great people involved with Irish food.
How did the show come about? It’s really a reaction to the pandemic restrictions, and people’s newfound appetite for more home cooking knowledge and skills. Everyone’s been using cooking and baking as a way to pass the time at home, so we wanted to offer some new inspiration and techniques that can help elevate everyday ingredients into delicious dishes.
Apart from making the series, what else have you been up to? Well, the restaurant was put on pause in March, so we went from 100 per cent occupancy to zero, overnight.
Mickael, our head chef, gave me a call in early April and we decided to set up our ‘Cook for the Frontline’ project, in partnership with Redmond Fine Foods (one of our suppliers) and Fallons of Kilcullen, who have donated their production kitchen.
We’ve been cooking three times a week with another colleague, Paddy Lee. Our meal packages consist of a main course, side and dessert. We have produced over 250 meals a day, which have fed staff at venues such as the ICU unit of Naas hospital and a number of nursing homes. We’ve been able to apply the same passion for food we have at the restaurant to the project. It’s been very fulfilling.
Sounds fantastic. I bet it’s been hugely-appreciated by our hard-working frontline staff. Are there some staples that people should have stocked up on that you use in the show a lot? Yes. Things like dried spices, soy sauce, jelly stockpots and Parmesan feature a lot.
What's the most unusual ingredient in your own pantry? At home, I have the usual staples, like everyone else. I have, however, picked up some interesting ingredients on my travels ... in what feels like a previous life! I think I have a 1kg bag of seaweed and dashi seasoning powder that was leftover from a dinner I cooked for Prince William and Kate Middleton back in early March. I use it to season baked potatoes!
Wow, royal leftovers, that's interesting! What are you missing most during lockdown? I'm trying to take it for what it is, and embrace the change of pace. Food-wise, I'm not missing much. I think sport is probably what I miss most, even though it’s not that important right now.
If you could go out to any Irish restaurant post pandemic, where would it be and what would you order? I really want to sit in the garden in Oliveto in Dun Laoghaire with a wood fired pizza splashed with chilli oil, and a nice pint of Guinness. That's something to look forward to!
What's your personal favourite quick-fix dinner? Spaghetti with garlic, chilli and parsley.
How do you like your chipper chips? Absolutely caked in salt and vinegar, and left to steam in the bag for five minutes.
And finally, tea bag in, or out? Barry’s tea in, and if it’s green tea, out.
Cook-in, with Mark Moriarty, begins on RTÉ One, Wednesday, May 6, at 8:30pm.
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