Since they opened their first restaurant Campagne, Garret Byrne and Brid Hannon have received many prestigious awards on a national and international level, most notably one Michelin star status in September 2013. In a rare interview Garret gives some insight into his food philosophy, inspiration and tips for budding chefs.
How has opening your own restaurant changed your food philosophy?
The food in Campagne was always about seasonality and showcasing the best of our quality local producers. It remains the same now as it did when we opened, great ingredients treated with care and respect, not necessarily complicated or involving a lot of processes. The style of the menus and the food here is very personal but it’s the dishes that change, never the ethos.
What do you believe has led to the success of Campagne?
We have always strived to make the experience as comfortable as possible for our diners and be sensitive to price points. Brid manages front of house and it is important to us both that the restaurant be a happy place. We love what we do and hope that our customers can tell from the atmosphere, service and food.
What’s your food guilty pleasure?
A black pudding supper form the Blue Door, John St, Kilkenny
Dish you’re most proud of?
You’ll have ask my customers!
There are just some dishes that don’t sell. They might have amazing ingredients and taste great but for some reason they don’t move. A recent “one-nighter” was Pithivier of Rabbit.
Turbot, crab and lobster.
Least favourite ingredients?
Anything out of season, yellow and green peppers, quinoa and kiwi fruits.
What are your food pet peeves?
The word “foodie” and use of out of season produce, it’s lazy.
Your most memorable restaurant experience?
Yannick Alleno in Paris, Per Se in New York.
Fantasy dinner guest?
Anyone who brings a good bottle of wine.
Did you notice any difference in trends in Kilkenny compared to Dublin?
The portions sizes are definitely bigger in Kilkenny, our Sunday lunch is really busy with families and we probably sell a little less wine that we might have expected.
Tips for a young chef starting out?
Get to London or Paris and work with the best, it’s tough at first but hard work exposure to the best chefs in the world is guaranteed to pay off in the long term. It’s a tough industry but there are plenty of great chefs out there who’ll give someone starting out a chance to learn.
Tips for a home-cook?
Always start with seasonal produce and the best you can afford. Get some good knives and sharpen them, they will last years if you do. Learn how to cook things you like to eat.
Off Duty Interviewer
Masterchef Ireland 2014 finalist Edel Byrne is a coffee lover and foodie with 15 years’ industry experience who brings her passion for food to her current role as head of corporate catering at wholefood specialist KC Peaches. Edel’s Masterchef highlights include cooking in two of the world’s top 100 restaurants and winning high praise from the judges (and from fans of the show who still stop her on the street) for her uovo in raviolo pasta dish.