Sam Moore, head chef at Glas, the highly acclaimed new vegetarian and vegan restaurant on Chatham Street in Dublin city centre, tells The Taste about what inspires him, how he stays motivated and what he loves about his job.
Glas opened in November 2019 just off Grafton Street and before that Sam worked in The Ice House, Old Street in Malahide and in Bart’s. He has also worked as a chef in France, Spain and Mexico
Tell us what inspired you to cook and at what age you started.
As a teenager, I started washing pots and pans at weekends and holidays just to make some money for myself, but I became hooked pretty quickly. I was kind of in awe of these chefs working in a hot, old school kitchen. Covered in battle scars, they walked around and shouted at everyone all the while serving hundreds of people every day.
The next logical step for me was to start cooking just like them. The following summer I got a commis chef job in a small, three-star hotel in Kenmare. I quickly realised that I didn’t just love the atmosphere – I also loved cooking. From then on, I knew I wanted to be a chef.
What is your favourite food memory?
My favourite food memory has to be summers spent at my grandmother’s. She had this amazing garden, and I would help out with the pigs, dig spuds, pick beans, strawberries, raspberries, pears and just about anything else she could grow. We’d then take all this back to the house and have them for lunch. I was very lucky to be able to experience this as a kid.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your menus?
To be honest, I get my inspiration from all around me. I’m quite a visual, ‘hands on’ person, so I could never just sit down and design dishes. I need to see my produce, touch it, feel it, taste it then I come up with dishes based on that.
Each dish is then constantly evolving even while it’s on the menu. I’m never 100 per cent satisfied with a dish . . . and as soon as I am, it’s time to change it.
I also get a lot of weekly lists – and WhatsApp videos – from my suppliers about what’s in season or coming in or going out. So that also determines what dishes I do.
How do you stay motivated and relevant within your role?
Staying motivated here at Glas is the easiest it has ever been for me. I’ve been lucky enough to have built a truly amazing team early on and we are all constantly challenging each other and dissecting and discussing everything. There’s a real sense that we’re doing something special here and it’s not just another job.
What is your ultimate food indulgence?
I have a notorious sweet tooth, especially when it comes to chocolate.
What are your favourite restaurants and who are your favourite chefs?
I could start listing all the amazingly talented chefs in Ireland and abroad – and there are loads – but my two favourite chefs ever have to be Matthew Fuller (L’Ecrivain, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Boqueria, Bart’s) and Peter Brennan (Marqette).
Both of them basically made me the chef I am today. Peter, who runs the entire Marqette offering in Dublin Airport, gave me the chance to cook my first fine dining food. He was also the first to instil in me the standard of organisation and cleanliness I still have today.
As for Matt, he has simply done far too many things for me to even start to list them out!
Your job is undoubtedly both physically and mentally demanding. Do you have an outlet that helps you refresh and re-energize your mind and body?
I feel the days of chefs working 50-60 hours a week and more should be over. I try my best to keep my team as close to a normal working week as possible. That isn’t always possible due to the nature of hospitality, so I try to get myself to the gym at least three times a week to keep my body and mind as healthy as possible.
Tell us what you love about working in your current role and why it is the right fit for you.
Well, for a start, I’ve been vegetarian myself for about three years so to have the opportunity to run my own vegetarian kitchen is really a dream come true. And as I said before, I work with an amazing team here in Glas, so coming into work with them every day is a real privilege.
What dish would you recommend to our readers for entertaining at home?
I would generally go for a good cold starter and dessert, ones that are pretty much already done before guests arrive. If you want a hot dessert, a tart tatin that is prepped and ready to cook at the last minute with no stress is perfect.
That would then leave me with time to blow my guests away with an amazing main, something classic with a real wow factor like a mushroom Wellington.
Glas is at 15/16 Chatham Street in Dublin 2.
Photo Credit to Al Higgins — http://www.alhigginsphotography.com