Have you ever wondered what chefs eat when they're not at work? Us too.
That's why in this series we talk to some of our favourite members of the Irish food scene about their food habits outside of the workplace. Today, we're chatting with food entrepreneur Shane Ryan, founder of plant-based company fiid.
Founded just over two years ago, fiid offers a range of tasty dishes in pouches. Perfect for busy people, these pouches are jam-packed with flavour. To see more from fiid, click here.
Here, Shane tells us about what he likes to eat when he's not working.
Do you cook a lot at home?
I cook dinner at home most evenings. It’s usually quite late and the act of cooking with the subsequent solo dining in my flat is quite meditative, a real moment of reflection. After a long day at work, I’m always craving comfort. I’m also a creature of habit so I’ll be making some variation of a piping hot grain bowl with lots of veggies and maybe a fried egg - or three.
Who do you usually eat with?
Come to think of it, I do a huge amount of eating alone, but my favourite is to eat around a big table full of my amazing family and friends.
Are there any foods you have to or choose to avoid?
I do try to eat mostly plants but as someone who has cycled through lots of phases of restriction through my twenties, including vegan, gluten-free, keto diets and more, I’m pretty at ease with food right now and enjoy a little of most things. There’s real beauty in balance.
What five ingredients do you always have in your kitchen?
I’m an unashamed convenience cook so my kitchen is stocked with lots of things that can make a meal magical in a hurry. I feel so lucky to live in the middle of Dublin and to have incredible access to such high-quality ingredients from world-class producers; we’re so blessed in Ireland. Besides a loaf of fresh bread from Scéal Bakery which is baked around the corner from me and a whole cupboard filled with our fiid bowls, I’m a huge condiment fan so I’ll always have a pantry stocked with peanut rayu from White Mausu, nutritional yeast, nut butter from Harry’s Nut Butter and NutShed, balsamic reduction that I’d happily eat with just a spoon, and dukkah - if you know you know.
What's in your fridge right now?
Fresh veggies and the remains of an unsuccessful product iteration for fiid from yesterday. I can’t bear to throw it out so I’ll need to get creative with dressing it up tomorrow.
What is your default dinner after a busy week?
I’m having a love affair with pizza at the moment so Friday night is a very simple pizza and some very deep wine. There are few pleasures in life that come close to it.
What is your favourite kitchen gadget?
Good quality salt and pepper grinders.
Do you have a favourite chef or cookbook?
Yotam Ottolenghi is a serious food crush for me. He crafts more than food, it’s moments. I have a real connection with his dishes.
Have you ever had a kitchen disaster?
I am the kitchen disaster. For whatever reason, I have an aversion to following a recipe, any sort of guidance or instruction so the success or lack thereof of any new dishes is often down to sheer blind luck.
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What's the best thing you've ever cooked?
I’m especially fond of our Rich Sundried Tomato & Lentil Ragu at fiid. It’s the dish I am most proud of and the one that every single time a spoonful passes my lips, I give myself a little pat on the back for a job well done. Also when an Italian has a taste and says that it’s as good as his grandmother's, you know you have something special!
What is the best cooking tip you've ever been given?
The single piece of advice that I’m always reminded of when it comes to cooking came from my culinary lecturer at Shannon College of Hotel Management, the legendary Chef Ruane. His trademark phrase was "we’re here to feed them not fatten them" and it’s something I’m always mindful of when preparing a meal.
What would be your last meal?
Anything around the table with my family that was cooked by my mum and dad. Eating dinner together every night was non-negotiable growing up and my brothers and I still talk about how grateful we are to have grown up, not only with amazing food experiences but with such special memories around our dining room table. We’ve made it clear to our parents now that we’ve all flown the nest, we don’t mind where they live as long as there is space for a huge dining table for us. Now, on the admittedly rare occasions that we’re all in the same country, these dinners go on for hours and I’ll never take them for granted.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
A non-working breakfast is a rare pleasure for me so on the weekend I think there’s no greater luxury than preparing and enjoying a long four-course breakfast with all fresh ingredients. I think the humble egg is so underrated as an ingredient and I love getting creative with eggs in the morning.
For more info about fiid and Shane, click here.