So many things inspire me and my cooking – the landscape, the seasons and most especially the new Irish artisans. Their produce is like a palette of flavours and textures to play with. A path had already been carved out for them by the artisan cheese sector and by people like Veronica Steele and Myrtle Allen, but I’d always wanted Chapter One to be an Irish restaurant with an international standard.
I spent some time in Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli in Catalonia in 1996. He is possibly the most influential chef of the last 50 years and his genius helped me develop a new way of thinking about food. This was a radical change for me but one inspired by my own landscape, raw materials, artisan producers and craftspeople. On short trips to Brittany I met Olivier Roellinger who owned a three-starred Michelin restaurant in Cancale and now devotes his life to the promotion of spices in cuisine through his spice shops, Epices Roellinger in Paris and Saint-Malo. He opened up a world of spices for me which have a very real and historical relevance to British and Irish food.
Since the beginning of Chapter One, I have tried to look at food with an open mind and coloured in the pictures of flavour and texture through a slow progression of self-development. Today our food is part of a story that is still unfolding, but it will always reflect honesty and integrity because these elements are the very soul of our food.