Patrick Ryan, chef and baker
I haven’t always been a baker... The original plan was to study business, however following a slightly better Leaving Cert than expected, I found myself in Galway studying corporate law. The law degree was then swapped for chef knives, which in more recent times have been replaced with flour and starter cultures.
Some people thought we were crazy, setting up a bakery and bread school on a tiny island...And I suppose they might be right. But with Laura’s family homenowon Heir Island, the opportunity was there.
We teach people how to make real bread... Real bread forme is bread that has nothing to hide. Bread as it should be: flour, salt, water, yeast, time and passion.
It can be difficult... You’ve got to be organised. You can’t just nip down to the local shop if you run out of ingredients.
The interest since we opened has been phenomenal...We have been completely overwhelmed by people’s reaction to our courses. I thought I would be spending the winter lying on a beach somewhere in Thailand, but the bookings keep coming.
We’ve had all sorts of people on our courses... people from all walks of life roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. My favourite has to be the group of ladies who came, high heeled, expecting a demo. They got a shock when they were handed a bowl of flour.
The best advice I’ve ever been given is... Don’t forget the salt. With everything you cook, make sure you taste, taste, taste. Season everything and most importantly cook from the heart.
If I wasn’t doing this ...I’d be practising law.
When I’m not working... I am playing rugby or having a pint.
My dream dinner party guests would be... The cast of Entourage and Hank Moody from Californication.
And I’d cook them... Slow-cooked pork belly, braised red cabbage, with a crusty sour dough to soak up all the juices, and caramel pain perdu to finish. I am all about comfort food.
Five things I always have in my larder are…sea salt, olive oil, butter, lemons, and eggs.
My ideal day off is spent…Laughing with good friends and good food.
I care a lot about…Real bread, and educating people about what the industrial loaf really is.
I’m really good at…Monopoly
I wish I was better at…Spelling. Once it goes beyond the likes of cat and dog, it all becomes guess work. I sometimes wonder how I managed to write a book. Thank God for spell check.
I often imagine myself…Ona Caribbean beach with an umbrella drink.
Not many people know this about me, but... I have two tattoos and am considering a third.
My guilty pleasure…Varies from time to time, but at present a classic Cornetto tops the list.
In conversation with Marie-Claire Digby
Patrick Ryan runs the Firehouse Bakery and Bread School on Heir Island, Co Cork with his partner Laura Moore. the firehouse.ie, tel 085-1561984