Canteen Celbridge Owner & Head Chef James Sheridan Interview
This month we sat down with Chef James Sheridan who is literally cooking up a storm in Celbridge, it is a firm favourite with the locals of the village and is also attracting lots of attention from food critics and passionate foodies. Canteen is a classic french restaurant with James keeping the dishes simple, focusing on excellent produce and outstanding favours. We hope you enjoy this interview with James and if you haven’t experienced his food then put Canteen on your list of must try restaurants this year.
Tell us what inspired you to cook and what age you started?
Like a lot of chefs I started with a summer job washing pots at a local hotel when I was 15. When you are KP its hard not to notice that the chefs finish before you! One day the chef asked me would I like to do it and that was that. I could occasionally be slightly wayward teenager so it was quite a surprise to discover I really enjoyed the discipline of the kitchen and never went back to school. Im fairly sure people don’t do that anymore and if they are thinking about it they shouldn’t.
What is your favourite food memory?
My mother is from a large family. Her father was a butcher in the army and as a result her mother, like most women of that generation, was brilliant and thrifty cook. My mother shared this ability and used a lot of cheaper braising meats to feed me and my 3 brothers way before it was hip! Respect for food was mandatory!
Where do you draw inspiration from for your menus?
These days the menu inspiration comes primarily from the producers, I’ve really tried to make things simpler focusing on flavour above all things.
Have you any suppliers/ producers that stand out to you and why?
We developed a great relationship with an organic farm here in Kildare, Nurney farm organics, which this year if you’ll excuse the pun is really bearing fruit!
What, in your opinion are some of the most underrated ingredients available to us in Ireland?
I think offal gets a bad rap. I’ve always been a big fan, it must be the butcher in me, I think a lot of cooks are afraid of it when the reality is, it’s incredibly versatile, varied and delicious.
You have taken part in Chef Collab, how important are initives like this to promote our next generation of young chefs?
Chef Colab is a really important project that I would encourage any chefs to get involved in. Our industry is struggling to attract young people and the Colab really allowed one to one mentorship in a pressure free environment.
What is your ultimate food indulgence?
I have a particular weakness for french saucison and breton cider, my wife being from that part of the world!
What are your favourite restaurants, who are your favourite Chefs?
Forest and Marcy is without doubt my favourite restaurant in Dublin, as well as being a pal, Ciaran is without doubt one of the most creative cooks on this Island. I also love Peploes on a Sunday. In a world full of brunch its very comforting to find that old world charm alive and well.
Your job in undoubtedly both physically and mentally demanding, do you have an outlet that helps you refresh & re-energize your mind and body?
Im a big fan of running as a stress release. I’m a multiple marathoner and Ironman. There aren’t many problems running can’t solve for me!
The Zero Waste Movement is becoming more of a talking point now than ever before. What are your thoughts and/or procedures you have put in place in Canteen to support this?
We keep our menus short here as a way of controlling waste. We have a swap system with a local allotment grower, veg trim for excess produce!
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About Canteen Restaurant
In 2013 armed with a small budget we took over a tiny premises, without a toilet, in Blackrock Market.
Being the only food premises in the market it seemed only fitting that we should become the market canteen.
Regardless of the premises minor shortcomings we always knew great cooking and genuine hospitality would make up for the less than salubrious surroundings.
Over the next 2 years the Canteen brand was honed garnering universal praise from customers and media alike.
In 2015, the opportunity to move to a bigger premise in Celbridge presented itself. The Blackrock premises was taken over by a couple of lads who seem to have done alright and in June 2016 Canteen Celbridge opened its doors.
Following the same ethos of modern European cooking with a strong emphasis on sourcing the best ingredients, the restaurant has become a firm favourite with locals and travelling foodies alike.
Dinner Tuesday-Friday: 5:30pm-9:30pm
Lunch & Dinner Saturday : 12.30pm – 2.30pm / 6pm – 9.30pm