The Head Chef at Dorian Restaurant in Donnybrook talks about the ups and downs of life in the kitchen

What was your first job?
Working in a university in New Zealand which gave me a huge range of skills. We had a fine dining restaurant, private dinners, outlet stores plus outdoor catering. Once I finished my cookery diploma I moved to Sydney for four years to work, then to Bristol in the UK followed by Rwanda to help open a hotel, then to London for 10 years and finally, to Dublin.

What’s the concept behind Dorian?
What we want to achieve at Dorian is a wonderful balance of good food using top quality ingredients, lovely wine and an atmosphere that welcomes people back. The small plate concept we have showcases the food we can do and lends itself to a relaxed dining affair.

What’s your opinion of Ireland’s food culture?
I’ve been coming to Ireland regularly for eight years and have seen dramatic improvements in the food and especially in the coffee. London still has a huge base so can provide so many different cuisines and ingredients which does lend itself to more variety in dishes. But Ireland isn’t far behind.

Is it difficult to source specific foods at the moment?
I’ve found it very difficult to source products over here. Surprisingly, seafood which Ireland is known for has become one of the more inconsistent products. In talking to some of the suppliers, it seems there are better prices overseas so the majority is getting shipped elsewhere rather than staying in Ireland.

What’s your favourite dish on the menu?
Our Korean Cauliflower Wings always go down an absolute treat. The sauce is delicious with the cauliflower, or with just about anything else. The only issue we have is trying to stop the staff from eating it!

What’s your favourite Irish restaurant?
We’ve eaten at a few places in Ireland, but my top two are Aimsir (for a special occasion). Amazing food, great concept and some of the nicest people in the business. You couldn’t feel more welcome there if you tried. My new favourite local is Nightmarket. Amazing authentic Thai food with a good amount of spice and again, lovely staff. Would go every week if I had the time.

How did you find Covid?
Covid was tough. The restaurant I was in at the time unfortunately had to close down so I had a lot of free time on my hands. On the plus side, they let us take all the ingredients from the kitchen so I cooked for myself and my housemates every day for a few months. I also managed to start a garden in London which is no easy task…

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
The most important thing in your restaurant is your staff. Over the years I’ve changed my management style to try and empower my staff to make good decisions and be confident in their abilities. Whenever I change the menu, I ask for input from every member of the kitchen. Getting everyone involved makes your menu much more special to them and to your customers. Each dish has a story behind it.

What do you like about Ireland?
I find the Irish friendly and genuine. I think if they ask about your day, they actually want to know. It’s a refreshing break from the bustle of London. Also the fact I can be up in the green mountains in 20 minutes or by the sea in 10.

What do you dislike?
It’s hard to judge at the moment as everything is still opening up. But perhaps just the lack of ingredients I’m used to in London.