Introducing, Wonky Meets, a fortnightly blog post series where you get the chance to get to know different people within Ireland’s foodie sphere. To kick off the series I caught up with Chef Adrian, an energetic and enthusiastic Irish chef from County Cavan.
He brings an exciting and invigorating passion to everything he does and 5 minutes in his company will do nothing other than reinforce this! Having discovered his flair for cooking at a very young age, (10 years old to be exact!) Adrian is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all genres of cooking, from classic French cuisine all the way up to molecular gastronomy!
He has trained in some of Ireland’s most renowned kitchens, MacNean House and the Michelin Star Bon Appetite, to name just a few. When he’s not making one of his regular television appearances, you can find Adrian travelling all around Ireland educating children on the importance and value of good food. With a particular focus on the importance of healthy food providing Irish children with the tools, they’ll need to practice great and simple cooking themselves.
First up, when did your love of cooking begin? What was the first thing you tried your hand at creating?
Actually, the first thing I ever tried cooking was a chicken korma, from Neven’s first cookbook. I was 10 or 11, I remember going to the local butcher’s in Cavan and picking up all of the ingredients. I couldn’t get everything, so I had to substitute a few spices!
My inspiration came from watching different chefs on TV, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, I really enjoyed watching a lot of Irish chefs as well, like Richard Corrigan. That was kind of my starting point. Then, went to work in Neven Maguire’s MacNean House at the age of 14, and that’s where I learned to cook.
Who do you admire most in the Irish food industry?
The unsung heroes that I’ve worked with would be who I admire most.
The person I admire the most, because he pushed me so much, was my college lecturer Gabriel McSharry from Killybegs. When I was in Killybegs he pushed me to do competitions and to cook French cuisine, teaching me so much about the repertoire of cuisine.
When I brought out my book last year, he was one of the first people I sent a copy to. He came up for the launch and he traded me. His book is a bible. It’s practical cookery, all of the French classical recipes, an incredible edition, he traded it with me that day. It wasn’t his book but the thing about it is, it basically is his bible that he lives by, it’s made me the chef I am today. So, in answer to your question, unsung heroes are always the kings.
Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes and what is your most popular recipe of all time? (our bets are on your amazing spice bag!)
I suppose I would have done a lot of recipes in college, I did Baking & Pastry Arts Management in DIT. Then went to on to Enniskillen for 2 years and did an MBQ Level 3 in Professional Cookery, from there I went to Killybegs and did a BA in Culinary Arts.
So 4 years altogether in college, I found that amazing for recipes. I’ve got stacks of recipes at home and I adapt them to my own taste and my own palate. You develop your palate as a chef when your training, your taste buds develop with it and that is a really important thing as a chef.
For a recipe – I’ll always start with a base, your meat and then the component of vegetables that go with it. I like to do things in 3s, a puree, a roasted vegetable and a pickle. Those 3 have acidity, a roasted texture and a smooth creamy texture. They complement the meat, then you can start adding extra flavours, like your sauce. Then it comes time for your garnish, you can never go wrong with cooking it in butter! So, that’s essentially how I go about developing a recipe.
Obviously, you’ve got your classic recipes but I don’t like to just stay the same, I like to add my own twist to everything I cook. There’s no point in just doing the same thing as what’s been done before!
Online, my most popular recipe is definitely the Spice Bag, it’s mad it’s the one that made me go viral! It was everywhere, Lovin Dublin, Her.ie, Joe.ie, The Star, The Independent, The Daily Mirror, they were all looking to find out how I came up the recipe.
I was on RTE 2FM, Today FM, it was mental!
Then people started putting two and two together and realised that I was the chef from TV3, that’s when people really became interested in my story of how I became a chef.
It was a complete fluke, the day I did it my sister was going to San Diego so we were having a special meal for her, I made the video in 15 minutes, edited it that evening and threw it up to see what would happen – now it’s got over 200K views!
It all kicked off from there, the book followed on from that, I got my own online series with RTE Player and my Facebook page took off too!!
What kitchen appliance could you not live without?
That’s a tough one actually!! I’ve got a lot of things that I like, a good oven is always an important thing. I work with Nordmende, I love their ovens. Knives are really important to me, I still have the same knife since I was 15 and it’s as sharp as the day I got it.
Tweezers and squeezy bottles are great for plating up too, you can never have enough squeezy bottles! And you can’t beat good frying pans too!
Your death row meal, what would it be, who would you share it with and why?
Can it be a full-on tasting menu?! Ok, my death row meal would be Royal Hospital Road, Gordan Ramsey’s 3 Michelin star restaurant tasting menu, I’d have to say I’d share it with my girlfriend Fiona, I’d be killed if I didn’t say her!
What advice would you give someone starting out their career as a chef?
I actually do a lot of talks for chefs, training is so vital. Working your way up is essential, starting out as a commis, you grow a speed for it, a passion and work your way from there to get to a stage where you’re hungry to learn everything that is around you. That hunger makes you faster, better and when you start to get better you’ll be moved on to something else.
5 quick-fire questions, a little bit of fun!
What is your coffee order?
Weak and milky!
If you were a fruit or vegetable what would you be?
Passionfruit, because they’re just so tangy!
What is the one thing you can’t live without?
My knife, my chefs’ knife.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Gabriel McSharry from Killybegs.
Where is your favourite place on earth?
Home in Cavan.
Be sure to check out Chef Adrian’s Spice Bag recipe here and all of his social channels, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, he’s always up to something, at the moment you can see sneak previews from behind the scenes of his latest cookbook shoot over on his Instagram Stories!
Keep an eye out for the next instalment of Wonky Meets in 2 weeks time!