Q&A with Aidan McGrath

We caught up with Aidan McGrath, Chef Patron of Wild Honey Inn ​​​​​​...check out what he told us!

What is your favourite dish on the menu at The Wild Honey Inn and why?

This is a hard question, They are all favourites,  really.  I have to mention two, It has to be the Blanquette of Pork Cheeks, wild garlic, beech mushrooms and smoked bacon velouté, such a simple dish but you have to take care when cooking it, it’s a classical braise with the sauce made from the liquor. It's versatile and works with other vegetables mainly white but at home, you can use most root vegetables and in summer all the greens. 

The other is the Black pudding and Foie Gras Terrine, with textures of apple. This is made with mainly two fine ingredients. The humble Irish black pudding and the decadent foie gras. The apple cuts through both of these complementary ingredients really well. It's a real winner.

What would be your desert island meal? (Starter/Main/Dessert)

On a desert island, it's got to be fish. To start. langoustine, fried in crumb with Sauce Gribiche. For main, Dover Sole, panfried, crab sauce, steamed new potatoes. For dessert - Strawberry Meringue, strawberry juice, clotted cream or sweetened whipped vanilla cream -  perfect!

What is your favourite seasonal dish? 

Venison Pie in a rich game sauce,  we do a very nice version here at  WHI and is great with a good claret. Also, Wye Valley Asparagus with morels à la crème.

What drink would you pair with it?  

I'm not a huge fan of new world wines, on this occasion I roll back, GEM, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand works well with it, it's a non-floral more grassy style, perfect with asparagus and the creaminess of the mushroom sauce. 

What is your favourite restaurant in Ireland and why? 

The Greenhouse, Dawson St Dublin. The chef, Mickael Viljanen has worked with great effort and energy since the Greenhouse opened. His innovation and dedication is unswerving. Mickael’s dishes are some of the finest I have eaten anywhere, and his personality comes through in this restaurant.

What is your favourite dish in Ireland and why?

Wild Turbot, Brassicas, lemon and pine nut dressing. A dish cooked by James Coffey, Park Hotel, Kenmare. It's such a simple dish, a great piece of fish, appropriately garnished, it was light, well balanced and tasted great. When fish is cooked perfectly, there's nothing to beat it. Only an accomplished chef can achieve this.

Who is your most hotly tipped young chef in Ireland today?

Ronan Halpin,  a young chef working here with me in Wild Honey Inn. After returning from a break in the USA and having just finished a five-year apprenticeship. Ronan applied for a position in our kitchen and was successful.  A young chef dedicated to his craft, positively, he works tirelessly, is eager and keen to learn. He has the drive to be a great chef. He knows what he wants for his career, and has all the qualities needed to go the distance. Without a doubt, he will succeed. Ronan reminds me of another young chef many years ago, that young chef, back then, is James Coffey. 

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