Mike Tweedie, Head Chef in The Oak Room at Adare Manor talks about his guilty pleasures and memorable dining experiences.
What’s your earliest food memory?
Very happy memories of my mum’s overcooked roast beef covered in English mustard, home-made yorkies, and spuds.
What was the most valuable lesson you have learned on your career path?
I was once told by a head chef, ‘You should treat people the way you would want your children to be treated’. I always try to think about that, particularly when something goes wrong in the kitchen. Nine times out ten there is a better solution than kicking off.
What is the best thing you ever cooked?
I think it would have to be mackerel. We would go fishing with my dad on his boat in Exmouth, Devon, and catch a bucket load of mackerel. I would then run half the bucket up to Gidleigh Park for the lads to use for the lunch menu, and the other half we would cook on the barbecue with the family.
What is your pet peeve in the kitchen?
Chefs not shouting ‘oui’ to a check being called-on or away. And also, people not being given the freedom to be creative or to try something new.
Which kitchen tool could you not live without?
My Victorinox serrated and filleting knife.
What is your current ingredient obsession?
Goat’s cheese from Galway Goat Farm in County Galway. It’s been on the menu since day one in some shape or form.
What/who are your biggest influences?
I guess my team would be the main one. I am every lucky to have a hand-picked team who want to learn and improve everything we do here, every day.
What was your most memorable meal?
Hare Royale at Hélène Darrozeat, The Connaught in London. It was a perfectly balanced dish, accompanied by a little mixed leaf side salad whereby the acidity cut right though the richness of the dish.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Fish and chips, and a battered sausage from Glynn’s fish and chip shop in Bruff, County Limerick. Dave, the owner, always makes me a tartar sauce when I come in; I think he got sick of me asking him for it when I first moved to Bruff!
Dream dinner party guest?
My wife Shellie, because she is the talker out of the two of us. Anthony Bourdain, because he would have some good stories to tell. My Grandad, Doug, to bring his ‘Irish charm’. And Grant Achatz, to pick his brain about food and where he gets his ideas from.the
What are your favourite eateries at home and abroad?
In Ireland, I have to say The Greenhouse in Dublin; Aniar and Loam, both in County Galway; ‘1826’ in Adare, County Limerick; and Campagne in County Kilkenny. Back in the UK it would have to be Casamia in Bristol; The Coach in Marlow; Augustus Restaurant in Taunton; and ‘Freestyle Wrappers’ a street truck in Taunton.
What/who inspires you?
I guess all the chefs I have ever worked with have all played some role to help me get to where I am today. Plus, the passion of the great suppliers in this country. I have been very lucky to work with great craftsmen like Ballyhoura Ceramics in County Limerick and Ambrí Boards in County Kerry.
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