The Man Managing The Engine Room, Head Chef Michael Safarik of The Pullman Restaurant at Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate – Interview
Having dined aboard The Pullman Restaurant at Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate earlier this year we were intrigued to know a little more about the creative mind behind the outstanding and innovative menu. Head Chef Michael Safarik goes above and beyond to ensure there will never be murder on these two carriages of The Orient Express.
Tell us what first inspired you to cook and at what age did you start?
My interest in cooking began at the age of 15, taking my cue from my Granny.
What is your favourite food memory?
There is a lot. Sunday long lunches were always spent around the table with my family where locally sourced food would be prepared and shared. Starting with a chicken broth with homemade noodles in my Granny’s house. You will always find a broth on my menus, as it is a part of my cherished childhood memories and a little piece of my heart.
Also, I was blown away with a potato dish at my first 2 star Michelin dinner experience at Noma restaurant in Copenhagen. I can still remember the flavours to this day. Thankfully I know how to make this dish as I ended up working at Noma for a few months!
Where do you draw inspiration from for your menus?
I tend to let Mother Nature be my influence. It goes without saying that I read a lot of books and follow some new trends and techniques. I am always trying to create my own flavours from scratch. I am not really into social media and I genuinely believe that this helps my mind stay focused on the world around me. I love to forage with most of the ingredients used for my own personal experimentation or with the kitchen team.
Have you any suppliers/ producers that stand out to you and why?
Gosh, this is a hard one to answer. I have a very close relationship with suppliers listed on the menu and I genuinely love and respect them all.
They are all extremely unique and important to me. Sometimes I like to enjoy my time off with them at their homes, farms, and shops to see and have knowledge of what’s happening behind the scenes and how it is done. I believe this plays a vital part in this industry.
What, in your opinion are some of the most underrated ingredients available to us in Ireland?
I am currently working on a tripe dish and hope to have it ready soon!
How do you stay motivated and relevant within your role?
I think there has to be a passion, talent and love in your heart. Everything else comes with it if your heart belongs to the kitchen. I cook and create dishes, new flavours for myself and then I let the people judge. I love to create my own recipes without trying to imitate others. That makes me feel like I am doing something right and unique.
What is your ultimate food indulgence?
It would have to be Mugaritz restaurant in Spain or Noma2 in Denmark.
What are your favourite restaurants, which are your favourite Chefs?
My biggest inspiration is chef Rene Redzeppi.
Your job in undoubtedly both physically and mentally demanding, do you have an outlet that helps you refresh & re-energize your mind and body?
When I need to switch off I take a walk with the kids and the dog in the forest close by to our home. I also enjoy living in the countryside as it helps me to relax.
Tell us what you love about working in your current role and why it is the right fit for you?
Before I had accepted the position at Glenlo Abbey I fell in love with the Pullman. It is like stepping back in time when you dine aboard the 2AA rosette award winning Pullman restaurant, set on two former carriages of the Orient Express, while overlooking the enchanting estate grounds and beauty of Lough Corrib. Converted into a wonderful Restaurant Car without losing any of its original character, this historic Pullman train carriage had been residing at Elsenham Station in Hertfordshire, England, before joining the many and varied facilities already available at Glenlo Abbey Hotel.