Richard Corrigan: 'I love it when the heat of mustard makes your eyes water'

 

My earliest memory… Mum making bread. She made fresh bread every  day and the smell was just incredible.  I could live off warm crusty bread with butter and nothing else – it’s one of  life’s greatest pleasures.

My store-cupboard essentials… Horseradish, which is  a classic partner for a good old-fashioned roast rib of beef. I know it’s hard to get hold of but if you can grate some fresh horseradish and add a bit of cream, it knocks the socks off the jarred stuff.  I also have Colman’s Mustard, which makes a great addition to cold cuts of ham: I love it when the heat hits the roof of your mouth and makes your eyes water. And, lastly, farm butter – once you’ve tasted it spread on thick bread,  it’s almost impossible to go back to supermarket stuff.

My favourite cookbook… North Atlantic Seafood by Alan Davidson. If you like fish, this is a must-have. It lists every fish, mollusc and crustacean between Europe and North America,  and it comes with recipes from all sorts  of places, from France to Greenland. 

My most valuable culinary tip… Too much knowledge is a bad thing; sometimes I really think ignorance is bliss, especially when it comes to dining. It would be great to eat out  and not notice every little detail, but being a chef and restaurant owner,  it’s impossible not to notice when something isn’t cooked or served right.

My favourite food shop…  I Camisa, a fantastic Italian deli in Soho. I’ve been going there so long, I feel like part of the family. The place is packed to the rafters with incredible produce, and I usually pick up some buffalo mozzarella, marinated olives and air-dried pasta.

My top table… Gambero Rosso in Tuscany. Sadly, it shut in 2008 but  I adore Tuscany and this was Tuscan food at its best. [Former chef-patron] Fulvio Pierangelini is a true master and the way he uses ingredients is a pleasure.

My desert-island dish… That would be a dish that takes me back to Ireland and reminds me of my mum’s home cooking, such as collar of bacon, summer cabbage and English mustard. Collar of bacon is always so succulent and it’s just as good cold the next day with a baked potato and salad.

My guilty pleasure… I can’t resist a Kit Kat with a cup of Barry’s Tea. Most of Ireland drinks Barry’s so a big mug of the stuff takes me back and it obviously goes hand in hand with a sweet treat.

My favourite comfort food… Roast chicken, lemon stuffing and olive-oil-mashed potatoes. If it hasn’t all been eaten up, the lemony chicken is fantastic in two slices of fresh brown bread with home-made mayonnaise and rocket.

The strangest thing I’ve eaten… Eating chicken feet in  a Chinese restaurant was pretty strange, but I’m not afraid of trying new things and I appreciate that some of these dishes came out of necessity when there wasn’t much food around. I applaud people who use parts of animals that aren’t usually eaten. In this day and age, we can’t afford to waste anything.

My pet hates…Food snobs. There shouldn’t be that sort of attitude around food: it’s about enjoying cooking, eating and spending time with friends, not turning your nose up at simple, hearty dishes that may not look like much but taste divine. With the dining scene as  it is now, food snobs are missing out on some of the best food around.

My tipple of choice… Being Irish,  I like a simple Jameson with a dash of water on the side. I’ve experimented with other things, but I always come  back to that. 1

Richard Corrigan is chef and owner  of Bentley’s Sea Grill at Harrods,  London SW1 (harrods.com)

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