Garry Hughes, head chef at The Saddle Room in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.
What’s your earliest food memory?
My grandmother making soda bread. I was amazed watching her as she never used measurements or a recipe – it was just handfuls of flour and, to this day, it is the best bread I have ever tasted.
What was the most valuable lesson you have learned on your career path?
Not to take anything too personally – try and learn from every encounter, including your mistakes and continue to ask questions and to continually push yourself to do better.
What is the best thing you ever cooked?
Roast squab pigeon served with roast baby vegetables, truffle pomme purée and madeira jus.
What is your pet peeve in the kitchen?
To have to chase chefs to meet dead-lines – I am a stickler for timekeeping.
Which kitchen tool could you not live without?
A spoon, to taste, of course.
What is your current ingredient obsession?
Has been and always will be chocolate.
What/who are your biggest influences?
My family, my wife and children. They are the reason I get up every morning and they give me my motivation and drive throughout the day.
What was your most memorable meal?
Quo Vadis under Marco Pierre White – it was a terrine of fois gras, herb crusted turbot and raspberry soufflé. I was only 18 years old and to this day it is the meal that I remember the most from all my dining experiences.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Tomato ketchup is my downfall.
Dream dinner party guest?
Apart from my wife, Kelly Preston or Will Ferrell. If it was possible, my dream dinner guest would be my grandmother.
What are your favourite eateries at home and abroad?
At home, although I am biased, The Saddle Room of course, also Bouchon in Naas and 777 in Dublin (great margaritas). The Ritz London, for afternoon tea, is a must. Jason Atterton’s Restaurant, also in London.
What/who inspires you?
I have had the pleasure of working with many famous and great chefs throughout my career, however, for me the greatest inspiration is when I see a young commis chef with flair and enthusiasm for the job – this really inspires me to keep doing this job day in, day out.