Myrtle in London
"There is no secret investor so that makes me owner, chef, interior designer, and fire marshall wrapped into one. This is by far the most terrifying thing I've ever done," says chef Anna Haugh, originally from Tallaght, Co Dublin, who will open Myrtle restaurant in London's Chelsea borough in early April. "I've saved every penny, and this is my first restaurant as an owner," she says.
The restaurant is named in honour of one of Haugh's sources of inspiration, the late Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House. "Myrtle Allen would not be as well known over here, and this is what makes the name extra special for me, it makes it more personal. She was Irish, a woman, who wanted to celebrate great Irish producers, not to mention the best chef ever to come from Ireland. How could I have called my restaurant anything else?"
Haugh, who was formerly head chef at Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard and also worked with the Gordon Ramsay group during her 14 years in the UK capital, describes her cooking style as "modern European, with a focus on French technique".
She will be showcasing Irish ingredients and recipes in her new venture. “Irish cuisine was always a hobby, an interest, and now it is going to become my job. I want to create the food I am trained in, with an Irish influence, so that will be some old Irish recipes transformed into a modern version.”
Ingredients she will be importing from Ireland include Ballymakenny potatoes, organic vegetables from McNally Farm, and beef from the Burren. "In my opinion it is the best beef in the world. This doesn't come cheap. I will have to buy the whole cow, and in advance, but it will be worth it," she says. A signature dish will be "braised beef stuffed boxty dumpling" and the house cocktail will feature Myrtle berries infused in poitín.
Although she is the sole investor in the new business, Haugh has back-up. “I’m not completely alone. Without the support of my boyfriend Rich, I’m not sure I could have kept going during the days when everything just wasn’t working out,” she says.
Myrtle is at 1a Langton Street, see myrtlerestaurant.com.
Terroirs in Donnybrook, Dublin 4 is celebrating 25 years in business and Séan and Francoise Gilley will be joined in the shop by some of the famous names who supply them with wine, and food and wine-related gifts.
This evening (March 9th, 5pm-7pm), Sébastien Bras and his father Michel, from the Michelin three-star Maison Bras in Laguiole will be in store. They will be demonstrating one of the knives designed by Michel and his brother André and produced at the famous La Forge de Laguiole in the village of the same name.
The Couteau à Fromage (€89) was originally designed to cut Roquefort, but is suitable for any cheese. It will be used on a Cratloe Hills sheep's cheese that Seán Fitzgerald will be bringing up from Clare. Visitors are welcome to drop in, and Clair Dowling from hot new Dublin lunch spot Tiller + Grain will be providing sandwiches.
On Saturday, March 23rd, the shop will welcome 15 wine makers, along with chocolate maker Patrice Chapon, with wine tasting from 3.30pm to 7.30pm and chocolate sampling from 4.30pm, and again the event is open to the public.
Butcher wins bursary
A former butcher is the winner of the second Market Lane Culinary Scholarship, a €3,000 bursary offered by the Cork city restaurant group in collaboration with Cork Institute of Technology.
Nigel Cotter (29), from Douglas, is currently undertaking the Certificate in Culinary Skills course at the college, and will use the cash to further his studies on the National Chef de Partie apprenticeship programme.
Paris cook-off students named
The Irish students selected to take part in a cook-off in Paris on April 3rd to find the Dairy Chef of 2019 have been revealed. Chris Leech (TU Dublin Cathal Brugha Street); Danay Berhane (Cork Institute of Technology); Hope Cuddihy (Waterford Institute of Technology); Paula Wardziak (Galway Mayo Institute of Technology) and Gavin Pope (TU Dublin Tallaght Campus), will each be teamed with a French student for the final.
They will be given a mystery basket of ingredients to cook from, including a selection of French and Irish dairy produce, and will have to create a three-course menu.
The winning pair will be awarded a week-long internship with a yet to be named top-flight kitchen in Paris and the runners-up will each spend a week working either at Chapter One or Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin. The prizes also include gastronomic tours in France and Ireland. The competition is run by the Irish and French dairy councils and the French Embassy in Ireland.