With an ethos of “keep it simple, stupid”, Chef Wade Murphy has given the kiss of life to the picturesque village of Adare’s dining scene. As Chef Proprietor of 1826, he has brought a Michelin Bib Gourmand to the county and has on numerous occasions secured the title of Best Chef and Best Restaurant in Munster at the Restaurant Association of Ireland Awards.
We caught up with the former Euro-toques Commissioner General and frequent TV chef to discover which six dishes shaped and stood out most in his career so far, from his granny’s kitchen in Gorey to current 1826 stalwarts.
This is one of the first things I learnt how to make. My Granny Cullen used to do all the cooking for Gorey Rugby Club and at weekends I would visit her. She used to spend all day Saturday prepping the food for the home games on Sunday. Every time I see Sherry Trifle now it reminds me of her and how she gave me my grá for cooking. It also reminds me of a little me standing there either on a chair or on a bucket saying “what’s that Nanny, what’s this Nanny?” Amazing memories with an amazing woman.
As a young fella growing up my palate wouldn’t have been very varied. Cheese sambos, meat and spuds, no sauce or veg! But when I moved to London in the early nineties that all changed. I remember saving all my money and going to lunch in a very well known 3 star restaurant at the time, as my head chef told me I needed to do, I saw calves liver on the menu and I said I had to try this, remember now any liver I’d ever eaten before would have been lamb’s liver and would have been cooked within an inch of it’s life.
This big traunche of beautifully seared, pink calve’s liver came out and I devoured every last morsel of it. That was my first ever meal of that standard or at that level of cooking. It showed me a style of cooking and service that I fell in love with instantly and pushed me in the direction that I would spend 9 great years working in various kitchens in the melting pot that is Landan Tawn baby!!
I still serve liver in some shape or form today. We have a simple starter on in 1826 Adare of pan fried Chicken Livers that we soak overnight in milk and serve with homemade piccalilli & pickles, piccalilli mayo, local leaves and almond crisp. It’s a major hit here.
After a stint working in the US with Four Seasons, I returned to Ireland in 2007 to open what was then Lisloughrey Lodge and is now the wonderful Lodge at Ashford as Executive Chef. We had two dining options, the casual bar and Salt restaurant which was the fine dining option. I was lucky to have a great team of people with me there and am still in touch with a lot of them. One of the first big bookings we got after opening was the RAI AGM and Presidents Dinner.
Even though I had meticulously written very substantial and lovely banquet menus we decided we were going to have to push the boat out on this one. I decided I would do some of the Salt dishes for the banquet, try to impress, as there were some big names of the industry going to be in attendance at this dinner. One of the dishes I decided to do was my “Salt” Foie Gras Sundae! I remember when I put this dish on the menu upstairs and did the trial run my pastry chef Pauline Reilly thought I was off my game, once she tasted the finished product she changed her mind.
It consisted of layers of foie gras mousse, candied hazelnuts, port poached cherries, peppered pineapple compote, tiny brioche croutons and foie gras espuma. We did that dinner that night and it was a great success. That was the start of some amazing friendships for me in the industry too. Some of the guests from that night still mention to me about “that foie gras dish”. I have never made that dish after I moved on from Lisloughrey. I’d have to charge €30 for a starter portion now. I don’t think that would go down too well with the boss at 1826, Elaine!
Back again to my London days, this is still one of my favourite things to cook and eat on a Sunday. Everyone has their favourite way of serving it and their favourite accompaniments but for me it’s not Proper Roast Beef unless it comes with a big fat Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and freshly made horseradish cream.
We serve this religiously here in 1826 Adare every Sunday on our Late Lunch menu with duck fat roasted potatoes, butter braised carrots, Yorkies cooked in beef dripping and you guessed it, fresh horseradish cream. This has become a huge hit for us and we have a lot of regulars who travel just for this every Sunday. Every time I plate one up I think back to my days in the UK and the schooling that it gave me.
One of my favourite dishes that I have come up with here in 1826 Adare is the Free Range Pork Tasting Plate. I’m a firm believer that bacon makes everything taste better! We wanted to come up with a plate that celebrated some of the best Irish ingredients in my opinion, our free range pork, our bacon and our black pudding.
This dish has evolved a lot in the 5+ plus years since we first put it on. It often gets taken off the menu for several months at a time and comes back with different garnishes and so on. I like to serve the loin, belly and black pudding as the key ingredients. A lot of work goes into the prep of the dish, brining all the pork, slow cooking the belly and pressing it, making wafers and little croquettes from the black pudding and cicharons from the skin, but I think it’s all worth it and shows on the finished plate.
It also helps the kitchen team learn a lot of different techniques and all on one plate. It just came back on the menu again after about a year absence and it’s a big seller. We serve it at the moment with homemade beer mustard, apple and raisin chutney, kale salsa and roasted pork jus. I think it’s one of the dishes that helped put 1826 Adare on the map for me.
Our Fish Pie is something that 1826 Adare has become pretty well known for. I love all things fish but if I had to pick one that I’m best known for, it would be this one. We buy all whole fish in the restaurant and break it all down ourselves. Myself and my sous chef at the time Ciaran Tedford wanted to do something to use all the trimmings and get our money’s worth from the fish. We played around with a few ideas and then one Sunday I decided to do a Fish Pie for Sunday lunch.
We did it and it completely sold out. Over the coming weeks we tweaked the sauce base recipe, added various different shellfish and other items to it.
. One of the different things we do is serve it with a soft cooked (sous vide) egg on top. I remember the traditional fish pies in the UK would always have wedges of hard boiled egg inside it so I wanted to get that flavour but without cooking the bejaysus out of the eggs, I’m not a fan of hard boiled eggs!
We cook each pie to order and fill it with crab, mussels, clams, scallop and prawns. We use the trimmings of whatever fish is on the menu which could be halibut, turbot, plaice or hake and so on. We make the sauce very thin and hence the egg on top. We want the egg to crack open and thicken the sauce, a liaison in cooking terminology, and it really enriches the flavour. We have this on now every Sunday and the odd time as a Special and like the Roast Beef there are people who travel just to have it..
It even made it onto a TV show recently “Healthy Appetite” on RTE1. We had to cook a signature dish and then Aveen Bannon analysed it nutritionally and advised changes. You’ll have to watch the show on the Player to find out what happens but let me just say it’s the original recipe that makes it back on the menu here, but don’t tell Aveen Bannon that!
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake Off and am passionate about discovering and creating delicious things – I can sometimes be caught in the act on TV3’s Six O’Clock Show or RTE Today. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting. Follow me on my pursuit of deliciousness.