20 Foodie questions with... Chef Martin Buckley
The head chef at The Lifeboat Inn talks cheese, fruit on pizza and his top foodie tip
1. What is your first foodie memory?
I have fond memories of Saturday mornings in my house watching my mother and sister baking bread, scones and buns for the weekend. The excitement for me was immense. You would never know who would come to visit, but there was always something there for them when they did.
2. The first dish you mastered was…
It was how to cook risotto. It’s a skill that has carried me through my career as a chef and features now on my own menu. It’s something I think anyone who is interested in food should learn as it requires a bit of care and attention and is perfect for showing off your cooking skills to your friends and family.
3. The best meal I’ve ever had was when…
I was in Amsterdam last year and I was blown away by the food scene there, One of the best meals I had was in a little restaurant called Guts & Glory. It was very casual but the level of cooking was on par with any Michelin star restaurant. They serve a surprise menu so you don’t know what you’re getting. Each season they have a new theme, when I ate there it was Italian inspired menu and it was fab!
4. The chef/cook I most admire is? (And why)
Nathan Outlaw is someone who I really aspire to be as a chef, I think he is a breath of fresh air to the industry. I really respect him for promoting sustainable fish and also his no frills approach to cooking.
5. The cookbook I couldn’t live without is?
My go to cookbook if I’m ever looking for inspiration or ideas is The French Kitchen by Michel Roux Jnr. I love that classic style of cooking and it is always close to hand.
6. Food heaven for me is…
Whenever I’m out for a meal and I see a seafood platter on the menu I’m immediately excited. It’s even better when you can share it with friends and for me that’s food heaven.
7. Food hell for me is…
Fruit on pizzas! Pineapple is very popular with people but recently I’ve heard of strawberries on pizza. Yuck!
8. For a late night feast I’d make…
Pasta with lots of cheese!
9. What’s your guilty food secret?
Has to be a Tayto sandwich with plenty of butter.
10. Who do you most enjoy cooking for?
I enjoy cooking for David my husband, he loves food and really appreciates a good meal. It makes me happy to see him enjoying a meal I’ve cooked.
11. What one ingredient would you take to a desert island
Garlic, I love it, you can put it in anything.
12. Tell us your best kitchen tip.
If you add a spoon of baking soda to your water when boiling eggs it makes them much easier to peel.
13. What dish would you most like to be able to cook?
I would love to master a couple Japanese dishes. Japanese cooking is so interesting and precise. There is an emphasis on using seasonal ingredients and it is also a very healthy style of cooking.
14. What’s your favourite restaurant in the world?
My favourite restaurant is in London, it’s called Chez Bruce and it is a one Michelin star restaurant. It’s the type of restaurant you could eat in regularly and I love that. It’s very relaxed, informal yet a thoroughly professionally orchestrated environment so your always guaranteed a great meal.
15. What’s your favourite piece of kitchen kit?
My knives, it’s so basic but I get so much joy out of them
16. What three things do you always have in your cupboard?
I always make sure I have enough butter, flour, eggs you can make a lot with those ingredients and form the base for a lot of dishes.
17. Your go-to dinner is…
I love to cook a whole fish like mackerel, the flavour is just amazing. I normally eat it with potatoes and a zesty buttery sauce.
18. What food could you not live without?
I love chicken, I would happily eat it every day.
19. Chocolate or cheese? Which would you choose?
I love cheese, love the culture and history of cheese and of course the different flavours. I think Ireland has some great cheese producers and my favourite cheese has to be Durrus which is made in West Cork.
20. What are you working on right now?
Right now all my focus is on the gastropub which we bought in June this year. My goal is to make great food accessible to the everyday person in an environment that’s relaxed, informal and welcoming.
Martin Buckley is head chef at The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork www.lifeboatinn.ie