Food File: The weekly food news round-up

Irish chefs take over Paris bistro for St Patrick’s weekend; win tickets to see demonstration by Food Network pastry chef


Brian O’Driscoll may be playing his last match for Ireland at Stade De France on March 15th, but there will be another Irish invasion taking place in Paris that weekend when Enda McEvoy, the Irish chef who first claimed a Michelin star for Aniar in Galway, takes over the kitchen at Semilla, a directional bistro in Saint-Germain.

Éric Trochon, head chef at Semilla, which is part of the restaurant group that also includes Fish (La Boissonnerie), Cosi and La Dernière Goutte, is handing over his gleaming open kitchen to McEvoy and fellow chef Conor Cockram, for three days, March 15th-17th.

McEvoy and Cockram are being joined by Frank Hederman and Caroline Workman of Belvelly Smokehouse and Seamus Sheridan of Sheridans Cheesemongers, whose produce will feature in the menus. Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland are also supporting the venture, along with food writer Trish Deseine, who will write about the event afterwards for The Irish Times Magazine .

Semilla serves around 120 covers a night, and on those dates customers will be offered “A Taste of Ireland in Paris”. The menus for lunch, dinner and brunch are almost finalised and will showcase not only the best Irish produce, but also finely honed technical skills.

“What we want to get out of this is to demonstrate that Ireland has its own burgeoning produce-driven cuisine as opposed to simply being an island of producers. We will use quite a lot of traditional techniques like smoking and pickling, fermenting and fresh cheese-making, alongside modern techniques. We believe our cuisine can comfortably stand alongside French cuisine right in the centre of Paris,” says McEvoy, who is in final negotiations to open a restaurant in Galway city.

The menus will feature “amazing moulded salamis from Fingal Ferguson in west Cork”, in addition to smoked salmon, butter and mussels from Frank Hederman, “and smoked creme fraiche, which will appear in a beef tartare dish,” McEvoy says. “We are featuring Irish shellfish, scallops with pig’s blood puree and brassicas; cockles and clams in a ‘chawanmushi’ soup with Irish seaweeds, and bavette steak with a whey and mussel sauce.”

The guest chefs will make three Irish breads, cheeses will come from Sheridans, and the dessert menu will feature a junket-style creation with rhubarb and woodruff, and a baked stuffed apple in pastry. “The menu structure at Semilla couldn’t be more different to what I usually do. It’s expansive, with lots of small plates and shared dishes, so it gives us an opportunity to showcase a lot of techniques and ingredients,” McEvoy says. Semilla, 54, rue de Seine. Reservations on +33-1-43 54 34 50. A three-course meal costs around €45.

Win tickets to cake decorating demo
Jorg Amsler, pastry chef and Food Network star, will be doing a demonstration at the Old Distillery, Midleton, Co Cork, on Monday evening, at which he will create a 50th anniversary cake for O’Brien Ingredients, which is launching Satin Ice ready-to-use icing in Ireland. Amsler, who once worked as private chef to actor James Garner, asks the bride for a photo of her dress before making her cake. “Usually the style of a wedding dress resembles the design of the wedding decor, and the wedding cake should be a focal point and match the design.”

Monday’s demo, which will cover fondant techniques, airbrushing and decorating, is not open to the public, but we have three pairs of tickets to give to readers. Email with the word “Cake” in the subject field, by midnight tomorrow; the winners will be contacted on Monday morning.