Thursday, 4 December 2014

Ross lewis of CHAPTER ONE" In the king's Kitchen " The Taste Magazine. Dec 2014

Ross Lewis featured image

Considered by many to be one of the greatest chef, Ross lewis‘s Michelin Star Restaurant, Chapter One is without doubt regarded as the best in Ireland. Waiting for Ross at the Chef’s table overlooking the open plan kitchen, with chefs radiating energy as they cook and interact with each other, brought back many happy memories as I was fortunate to have been trained and worked here as a Chef many moons ago.
While the dining room is infused with refined elegance, the menu is gloriously modern European. Ross Lewis approach to cooking is restrained, minimalist, playfull but most of all, It is focused on pure clean flavours using the best seasonal produce with unexpected contrast of flavours, temperatures and textures.

Here he tells us a bit about his passion.

What are your first food memories?

“Collecting eggs with my grandfather on his farm and going back to the house to cook a big fry up. On a gastronomic note, It would be eating Scallops Mornay in Jimmy Edwards in Kinsale at the age of 7-8yrs, when eating out was a once a year family affair as well as a huge treat. Another that spring to mind would be pickled Roll mops herrings from Halpins in Cork that subsequently triggered my ongoing love of salt & vinegars.“

How would you describe Chapter One?

“A work in progress. An honest exchange between the kitchen, where we go to a lot of trouble in sourcing hand crafted, high quality ingredients and to reflect them on a plate in our own style that we have developed over the last 23 years. Overall Chapter One delivers a warm welcome upfront, congenial atmosphere and value for money in terms of consistency. “

If you had to pick one dish, which you are most proud of, off your current menu, which one is it and why?

“The Crab salad, with cucumber jelly, compressed cucumber, salted cucumber, clam juices, coriander oil, brown crab mayonnaise. I like dishes that have elegance, integrity and balance and this one is certainly beautiful, very elegant and with great balance of flavours.

What aspect of running a restaurant do you love and hate the most?

“I love the creative part, the organizational side, chasing standards and constantly trying to improve. The way you get bogged down is through the repetitiveness, constant training of staff , spending time outside of the kitchen due to pressure for media demands that unfortunately are vital nowadays.“

What are your views in relation to your Michelin star ? Is the star a blessing or a curse?

“Without hesitation, I would say a blessing. You have to embrace it and be grateful. There is no point in allowing it to intimidate you as it does drive a huge amount of customers your way as well as incoming foreign journalist who are on the look out for what’s new, fresh and where is the quality.”

Your book gives back to the food producers behind Chapter One, how important is it to you and have they played a part in the success of the restaurant?

“Indeed, my menu is a patch work quilt of my suppliers. They form part of the big Irish food family and I appreciate their passion. I know when I get products from them, they strive to ensure how beautiful they can make it as opposed to how much profit is there in it for them and this gives me a huge reassurance for at the end of the day, all cooking starts with the shopping.
As to the success of the restaurant, there are three elements to take into account.
Firstly, all the staff that have passed through here, constantly pushing standards.
Our Suppliers and our Customers.”

Looking to the future is there any dreams left to fulfill?

“In a perfect world, I would love to think that I could go on to another level and get another star.“

What are your views on Ireland as a food destination?

“It has an increasing appeal and the food scene is changing and certainly on it’s way up. The premier produce of Ireland is second to none and we must move forward in premiumising our products. It has provenance and tells a story. As a small island, there is a great food family out there, the soul and spirit within that community is so strong and I can see it getting stronger, I hope that in a decade, we will be blessed to be one of the greatest food country in the world.”

Can you tell us a little about your Christmas celebrations, and what it means to you?

“Personally and physically, it is a huge burden of relief after working all the hours god sent for the past months. We close for two weeks and primarily it is having the time off and spending it with my family.
My thought process for the Christmas meal, is to keep it simple. I usually opt for the traditional turkey as I refuse to eat it at any other time . It would have to be a bronze free-range organic bird with 3-4 simple accompaniments. I would also waver on something like duck, with a good punchy red cabbage, good roast potatoes and bread sauce.
Pushing the boat out, I might go for something decadent and treat myself to some White truffle or skewered foie-gras with chestnut. The next day, I really like capon stuffed with spinach, brioche and foie-gras. It is Christmas after all and this is a rare treat so be good to yourself.“
Thank you Chef.

Robert Jacob in conversation with Ross Lewis of Chapter One about his passion and his Michelin Star.

Chapter One
18-19 Parnell Square
Dublin 1
Tel : 01-8732266

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