Written by: Melanie May
Brian McDermott is one of Ireland’s top Chefs and TV food personalities. He’s also one of only a handful of Irish chefs to hold a Culinary Arts Degree. He has a reputation for being one of the most innovative chefs in the North West of Ireland and opened Ireland’s first ‘No Salt’ Cookery School in his native Donegal.
He has had a very successful career working in the kitchens of some of Donegal’s most lauded establishments, however, it is the kitchen of his childhood that inspires his newest cookbook, Donegal Table (purchase here).
Brian says that one of his strongest memories of growing up in Burt in County Donegal is that of his large family (he has twelve siblings) coming together at his mother’s kitchen table and connecting over her home cooking.
“There was always a pot of stew on the go and plenty of spuds. But my mother’s homemade chips which she uniquely cuts by hand using a certain knife and she cooks in one straight cook, no blanching, have to be my favourite thing she used to cook . I can’t even repeat them and that’s frustrating for me. Mammies Chips OMG,” says Brian.
It is this home cooking, alongside the best of Donegal’s ingredients, warmth and traditions, that he celebrates in Donegal Table. Brian believes that tasty, healthy food based around local produce is something every family can make and enjoy and his recipes in Donegal Table set out to do this in an achievable, affordable and accessible manner. Brian’s recipes are fuss free, which should translate to stress free when trying to recreate them. He really does allow the ingredients to shine through each dish so that you recognise each food for what it is.
The recipes are also very personal and engaging. Brian is witty and passionate about teaching others about food and this really comes across in the cookbook. So too does his fondness for the dishes of his childhood which he evocatively brings to life on the pages.
The recipes perfectly showcase the natural beauty and quality of seafood and produce from Donegal. There is something in the book to suit every taste from Wild Atlantic Way Fish Pie, Mammy’s Irish Stew, and Honey-Glazed Donegal Gammon to Thick Batch Loaf, Rustic Irish Apple Pie and Barmbrack.
Donegal Table is a celebration of life where the kitchen stands proudly at the heart of the home.
Brian has shared some gorgeous recipes from his book:
Donegal Table, published by The O’Brien Press. Photographs by A Fox in the Kitchen.