THE National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty was the setting for a very illuminating discussion between three top chefs as part of the recent Taste of West Cork Festival.
Under the heading ‘Food: Fiction, Fads and Phonies’, the seminar featured Paul Trevyaud, Pamela Kelly and Anthony Warner.
The formula was simple: a theme, three speakers and they could choose the topic, but it became more interesting when one after the other, they found reasons to disagree with each other’s presentations.
They provoked discussion which lasted right through lunch and beyond. Paul, who owns Treyvaud’s Restaurant in Killarney with his brother, is also the presenter of Treyvaud’s Travels on IrishTV.net.
He finds it hard to stomach food bloggers and critics with no industry experience setting themselves up dictators of where to go to eat. What’s even harder is that there are many following these pseudo-critics as though their criticism, good or bad, was the absolute imprimatur on a restaurant. When print media gives these people space, Paul wondered what the point was in training to be a chef, working hard to satisfy customers and then being knocked by such a writer or, even worse, being told that if he doesn’t buy a plaque or subscribe to a publication, the restaurant will not be featured.
Pamela, of Wild Garlic, also heads up the busy 25-chef strong Market Lane Restaurant, Cork. She led the audience on a journey from producer to plate and explained the importance in Market Lane that they know as much as possible about the products used - but it’s never possible to be 100% certain.
Anthony, who operates under the pseudonym of The Angry Chef, was a biochemist who then trained as a chef and now works in product development. His focus was on fads and phony diets, and his efforts to de-bunk the myths around these have resulted in a large following on his blog. He was quick to acknowledge that he researches and works with a number of other professionals who test these diets. Fads will always be with us but Anthony was bemused by how gullible we, the consumers, are.
The debate was one part of a very successful festival, which featured an amazing array of food, enjoyed by all attendees.
Among the providers were Abacus Catering, Glenilen Farm, Mella’s Fudge, the Emmet Hotel, the Celtic Ross Hotel, Walsh’s Supermarket, Clonakilty, Richy’s Restaurant, Fernhill House Hotel, Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, Dunmore House Hotel and Rosscarbery Black Pudding.