The sixth and final episode of Beyond The Menu aired on RTÉ last night, which saw the Mark Moriarty visit Aimsir at Cliff at Lyons to cook with Jordan Bailey.
The first episode in this new six-part documentary saw Mark take a look behind the scenes at Pilgrim's in West Cork. In week two, Mark visited Clanbrassil House in Portobello to find out more about one of the country's youngest head chefs, Gráinne O'Keefe. Then, we saw Mark journey back to West Cork to visit Rob Krawczyk from Restaurant Chestnut in Ballydehob. In week four, Mark teamed up with Ciaran Sweeney, his former mentor, at Forest and Marcy in Dublin, then he worked alongside his former classmate Holly Dalton in week five.
The final episode of this fantastic series saw Mark travel to Aimsir in Kildare, which opened in May of this year. Operated by husband-and-wife team Jordan Bailey and Majken Bech-Bailey, this restaurant was the talk of Ireland's culinary scene before it even opened.
The episode with Mark and Jordan visiting the building site that would become Aimsir two months before it was due to open. Talking about how he wanted to bring the kitchen out to all of the guests, instead of creating a chefs table, it's clear that Jordan knows exactly what he wants from this new, unique restaurant. Listening to him talk about his plans, Mark was obviously enthralled by the possibilities - and so were we.
In most of the previous episodes, Mark and the featured chefs had an already established level of camaraderie - Gráinne and Mark had competed together, he and Holly had studied together, he had been trained by Ciaran, and so on - but it was obvious that he and Jordan hadn't worked together before. However, they had a very easy level of banter and worked together so well that it was a joy to watch. Clearly, Mark admired Jordan, his skills and determination, while Jordan had great respect for Mark, so it was a really good watch.
The Last Pop-Up
The pop-up is nearly an afterthought in this episode. Mark was so wrapped up in Jordan's routine, learning so much and showing us exactly what goes on behind-the-scenes, that it was almost a shame when we had to move our focus to service.
However, the pop-up does go down very well. Majken's juices, Cathryn Steunenberg's wines and Jordan's food wowed the guests, highlighting some of the very best that Ireland has to offer. While Mark announced that he believed Aimsir could be the country's very first restaurant to earn three Michelin stars, the team won two at last week's ceremony. Judging from the determination and precision shown by Jordan and Majken throughout this episode, we wouldn't be surprised if Mark's prediction comes true at the 2021 Michelin revelation.
Throughout this episode, Mark was unashamedly in awe of the food produced in Aimsir's kitchen and was eager to learn how Jordan produces his food. This, I think, is where the strength of Beyond The Menu lies: the collaboration between the two chefs allows them both, and us, to learn more about them and their cuisine, while the chefs are able to teach each other some new tricks. It's a thing of beauty to see such openness between them and it shows that the restaurant industry really is changing. Recipes are no longer closely guarded secrets, instead, top chefs want to share their knowledge and help bring others to their level. It shows that there is so much potential for Irish food when chefs are free to openly collaborate.
Visiting Aimsir was the perfect way to end the series, but we sincerely hope we might be treated to a second season next year! We'll keep you posted if we hear anything of the sort.