It was a pleasure to interview the hugely talented Head Pastry Chef of the Five Star Intercontinental Dublin. If you have had the chance to experience Afternoon Tea in the Intercontinental then you will have seen the beautiful creations of Orna Larkin. Our recent review of the current Berry Afternoon Tea encouraged us to reach out to Orna to find out more about this pastry star. We hope you enjoy this interview and try some of Orna’s work soon.
Tell us what inspired you to cook at the beginning of your career?
I come from a family who love to cook. Both of my grandmothers were enthusiastic cooks and I was always encouraged to learn and cook with them. We share cooking responsibilities quite evenly in my house and from a very early age my siblings and I even had jobs to do to help make the Christmas dinner! The passion for food that I grew up with was infectious, so being a chef was an easy decision for me.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your menu?
I am constantly researching the newest trends in food, and I also love to look back to the past and to try to revive old classics. I follow some of the worlds leading pastry chefs on Instagram, and to watch what they can do always sparks my creativity. I am also very lucky to work with a great team in the InterContinental, we all love to talk about food and inspire each other.
How do you personally stay motivated and relevant within the industry?
I try to constantly improve my skills by taking courses in pastry and chocolate, and of course I like to keep a close eye on my competitors!
Have you an suppliers/producers that stand out to you and why?
All of the Irish suppliers and producers that the intercontinental deal with are excellent. We are very lucky with the quality of produce, and the passion that we consistently receive from our suppliers. We are always the first to know of new products on the market which allows us to stay relevant in the industry.
What, in your opinion, are some of the most underrated ingredients available to us here in Ireland?
In my opinion Irish dairy is among the best in the world, which is so beneficial as a pastry chef. High quality ingredients can completely change how a dish looks and tastes.
Tell us your favourite food memory?
Every year for my birthday my childminder would make me a Victoria sponge with strawberry jam, Chantilly cream, melted Cadburys chocolate and with my age in smarties on top. I think that would still be my favourite cake to this day.
What is your ultimate food indulgence?
There is a stall in Dunaloighre market that sells fresh donuts that gets me every time. I could eat one hundred of them!
Do you have any favourite Chefs/Restaurants that you admire?
In the pastry world at the moment there are so many, Amaury Guichon for chocolate sculptures is absolutely incredible. I’m really drawn to how Antonio Bachour does plated desserts and dessert buffets, I really like his style, and I love everything that Cedric Grolet puts on a plate, he is a pastry master.
Your job is undoubtedly stressful at times, do you have an outlet that helps you to refresh and re-energise yourself?
I find that taking my dogs for long walks really relaxes me no matter how stressful my day was. I am also very lucky with the kitchen team that we have in the intercontinental, we talk each other through stressful times and the whole team are always around to lend a helping hand.
Tell us what you love about working in the InterContinental Dublin, how long you are there and why it is the right fit for you?
As I have mentioned, the kitchen team that we have here is a very positive one. I cant imagine working in another kitchen and getting the amount of support that I do here.
Read Our Review
The origins of the afternoon tea can be traced back to the 18th century and many believe it was thanks to Anna, Duchess of Bedford and lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, that this pleasurable occasion became popular. Her story is evoked on the first page of the afternoon tea menu at the InterContinental Dublin, one of Ireland's finest five star hotels, ...