One of my favourite things about living in Ireland is discovering exciting new people, places and things (and, of course, food!). Last week, I discovered one such remarkable person whom I am delighted to share with you all—that is, if you haven’t already heard of him. His name is Donal Skehan, a bright new star in Ireland’s culinary world and according to RTE (Ireland’s largest broadcasting network), “Ireland’s Answer to Jamie Oliver”. Pretty impressive stuff for a 23 year-old fellow from Howth.
Donal’s book, “Good Mood Food” hit the stores in October and has been flying off the shelves ever since. Based on the blog that he started 2 years ago, Good Mood Food, is filled with delicious recipes that maybe even my husband could make (yes, that’s a hint honey). He’s young and fresh and his recipes mimic that style…healthful and light–many of which you’d think were coming from Northern California rather than Ireland. And let’s face it, sometimes on a gray, rainy Irish day it would be grand to have one of Donal’s yummy sunny recipes on hand just to put a little spring into your step.
When he’s not cooking, blogging or shooting, he’s recording music with his band, Industry, which makes him all the more fascinating. Still, the best bit about Donal is that for all the press and publicity he is an undeniably friendly guy with a genuine love for all things food (including a wonderfully quirky addiction to reading cookbooks). This lovely spirit of friendly foodie enthusiasm comes through in his book, blog…even his tweets.
Donal graciously took the time to share with me a little more about himself and his relationship with Ireland:
What was is the best thing about growing up in Ireland?
I grew up in Howth which is a fishing village 30 mins from Dublin city centre and as kids we had the run of huge green fields filled with horses behind the house, so one of my favourite things was to be lucky enough to have the freedom to spend the whole day out in the open air! It’s only now that I really appreciate it and realise what a special thing it was.
Which Irish dishes do you love…or have you redesigned to be “good mood food”?
You can’t beat a good Irish stew and like most families, we have our own version, the recipe for which is on the blog. I also love baking Irish soda bread, it’s a flavour which tastes so distinctly like home to me.
In what ways do you support Irish farmers and producers?
I think one of the most important thing is to buy veg that is in season, Ireland produces fantastic fresh fruit and vegetables and by choosing home grown seasonal veg, we as consumers are not only helping the environment, but we end up eating more fresh food. I actually got to visit a free range Turkey farm before Christmas and it was hugely inspiring, the birds lived a happy life, were extremely healthy and had a farmer that was incredibly passionate about what he did. In the world we live in it’s becoming more and more important to know where our food comes, and the step by step process its goes through before ending up on our plates.
What are some Irish traditions or sensibilities that you love?
I think growing up I would always have been a little dismissive of Irish traditions, the music, the language etc, but having grown up a little more and travelled, I am so proud to be Irish and I love showing off our fantastic culture to any visitors we have!
What are your fave places in Ireland that you would recommend visiting?
In the last two years I have travelled more in Ireland than ever before and it’s been great because you get to see the amazing sights we have to offer on our doorstep. We took a little road trip to the Burren and drive up to Galway from there and the views are just amazing. I also went to Irish college on Achill Island in Mayo in my teens and it’s a really special place too! Lots of good surf! Of course I also have to mention my home village of Howth as well, it gets huge numbers of tourists right through the year, we have an amazing cliff walk which is a must see!
In your words, describe your book, Good Mood Food.
Good Mood Food is all about simple, healthy homecooking. It’s full of really easy healthy recipes that are perfect for even those who haven’t done too much cooking before. I like to think that I write recipes that become part of a routine, simple family meals which can be done with your eyes closed!
Donal is currently filming an episode of Market Kitchen for the BBC’s Good Food Channel which will air later this month. You can read his blog at: http://www.thegoodmoodfoodblog.com. His book, Good Mood Food is available online at http://www.mercierpress.ie/
I have decided to give one priviledged reader a copy of “Good Mood Food”. If you’re interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org before Monday. I will be drawing a name and announcing the winner next week.
In the weeks to come I will be featuring more extraordinary Irish talents as well as blogging about my wee life as an Irish farmer’s wife.