Interview with Chef Harry Quinn of Pichet Restaurant
While 2020 may be a strange year for most of us, the team at Pichet are delighted to be looking to the future by continuing to serve up some of the best food and drinks in Dublin city. Last year, executive chef and co-owner Stephen Gibson split his time between his new role as executive chef in Café en Seine and Pichet, and has now committed to spending the bulk of his time in Café en Seine and which has left big shoes to fill in the kitchen at Pichet. Step up Harry Quinn, who’s experience to date has seen him work in some very prestigious restaurants in France, the UK and Ireland.
Tell us how you started out on your culinary journey?
I really had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished school. I had always enjoyed cooking growing up and thankfully my parents had always encouraged us to cook our own dinners from a young age. I took a chance on the culinary arts course in DIT and never looked back. After doing 3 months work experience in a Michelin starred restaurant, Le Mas Candilles in the south of France I was hooked. I was blown away by the fine dining aspect and refinement and creativity in the kitchen. Once I completed my degree I applied to a tonne of Michelin starred restaurants in London. I took a job in Pollen Street Social, the flagship restaurant of Jason Atherton and spent a year here. The attention to detail, precision and standard of cooking was mind blowing and I had never seen anything like it. The rest is history.
What is the recipe to success for a great dining experience in this current climate?
There are a lot of variables out of our control. My goal at Pichet is to create and cook delicious, exciting, seasonal food within a positive atmosphere which in turn people remember and keep coming back. I’m more than confident we can do that with the talent we have in the kitchen and front of house. I couldn’t be happier to be here and it feels right at this point. It’s an added bonus to have Steve Gibson as a chef owner for advice.
Where is your favourite place to holiday in Ireland and what food do you look forward to the most when you go away?
I wouldn’t say I have one favourite place to go. If anything there is so much more of Ireland I want to visit and explore. It’s such a stunning country. Luckily my fiance is also quite a foodie so when we do go away we like to treat ourselves to one fine dining meal in the locality. Galway is always great as is Kilkenny town. We love a good Irish pub with some traditional music. Like many others I also love a good chowder and it’s not an easy thing to find. Fresh fish and chips is one of my favourite things. Smoked haddock is a treat. There’s always a list of places we have to visit and it only seems to get bigger. Belfast needs a visit for places like Ox and Deanes Epic. Also Dede at The Customs House in Baltimore, West Cork is great, Ahmet Dede’s cooking should be experienced by everyone and it is such a beautiful place. Ireland is only getting better for its food scene.
Did you find yourself cooking any wild and wonderful recipes throughout lockdown?
Sourdough was my everest during lockdown. My other half was driven insane with the flour everywhere and starters and doughs in our hotpress. I’d been meaning to try and get a handle on it but time always gets away as we all know. I bought the Tartine book by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson and followed some of the experts on social media. It was a hugely enjoyable project for me and there is possibly nothing better than freshly baked sourdough and Irish butter. It’s one of the most beautiful things. I think the neighbours appreciated it anyway as they were often the recipients.
What is one of your go to dinner party recipes and would you like to share it with us?
I love the idea of sharing food for a dinner party. A roasted chicken with loads of herbs from the garden made into a marinade, lemon, smoked paprika, Garam masala, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper. Sounds weird but it works and it’s delicious. Alongside freshly baked breads, pesto, mozzarella or burrata, cured meats, tomato salad, roasted potatoes or potato salad, hummus, good quality olives etc. It’s not fancy food but you can’t beat it. Replace the chicken with a meat of your choice or fish.
With Autumn here and Winter creeping in do you have any seasonal ingredients that you are really looking forward to cooking with again?
Yes absolutely! Autumn-Winter we see some beautiful ingredients. Jerusalem artichokes are probably my favourite vegetable. I have a beautiful fish dish planned for those this year. Celeriac, parsnips, chanterelles, blackberries, quince, figs, cabbages, the list goes on. As a chef I get excited about any and every ingredient that’s coming into season and the challenge for us is to find a way to elevate these ingredients and showcase their flavour and characteristics. Sometimes simplicity is key.