The Sky’s the Limit says Chef Peter Brennan of Marqette at Dublin Airport
In Ireland we have pride in our reputation as a food destination. The airport therefore is the perfect place to make a lasting final impression on vistors before they leave our island; by showcasing the quality of Irish food and extending the memorable dining experiences guests and locals alike have had here. However, until recently little effort has been put in to seize the opportunity to make an impact on the thousands of people that flood through our airports every day. Instead we think of airport food as a means to an end, unavoidable and unimaginative. With a mission to shake up our preconceptions of airport food is Marqette. Marqette is a new dining concept at the Loop in Terminal 1 Dublin Airport that evokes outdoor food markets and showcases the best of Irish food. I breezed through airport security in order to meet Executive Chef Peter Brennan, who talked about his plans to raise the bar for food service in the airport, and beyond, to the skies.
Peter has always been passionate about food, a passion that has driven him to work in world famous hotels and restaurants both at home and abroad, such the renowned Savoy Hotel in London and closer to home Mount Juliet, Parknasilla Hotel and the Radisson St Helens. After 20 years in the business Peter is still driven by that passion and far from being intimidated by the reputation of airport food he has embraced the challenge, “I wanted a new challenge. I’ve done restaurants. I’ve done Michelan star restaurants. I’ve done five star hotels. I’ve done consultancy. I’ve done TV. I’ve done a lot. So, what’s next and this sounded exciting”.
If a challenge was what Peter was after then that is exactly what he has got; in the fast paced, dynamic environment of the airport Marqette offers ‘food on the go, food on the slow and food on the fly’ for up to three thousand people everyday, from four in the morning until ten at night. “We are under the public eye very much here. It’s not somewhere you could just open and surreptitiously go under the radar. Here is a big deal to the airport. They have big expectations and we do too, of ourselves” says Peter.
With a guaranteed audience Peter says they could easily become complacent. Instead Peter see this as an “opportunity to do something special, to change people’s perception of what is possible”, filling a gap in the market for fresh, consistent and innovative food and service. At Marqette customers can go from ‘stall to stall’ sampling a wide array of foods from different parts of the world; made to order omelettes and crêpes from a reclaimed 1960s Citroen van, rotisserie chickens, fresh salads and array of breads and sweet treats including sourdough, focaccia, flatbreads and pastries all on site in Marqette’s artisan bakery. Peter notes that the only other place that he has worked that made their own croissants and Danish from scratch was The Savoy.
That unwillingness to compromise on quality is emphasised in Marqette’s commitment to supporting Irish farmers, artisans and suppliers, providing customers with an authentically local and sustainable dining. Peter himself handpicked the finest ingredients to use in the kitchens at Marqette, including Gubbeen Salami (West Cork), Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzarella (Macroom), Kettyle Beef (Northern Ireland), vegetables from Iona Farms (Oldtown, North Dublin) and Oriel Sea Salt (Clogherhead), to name a few. Peter enthuses about the relationships he is building with suppliers and what impact they are making on the quality of food at Marqette, “I make an open sandwich with Ardsallagh goats cheese, scallions, Gubeen smoked bacon and maris potato, on handmade Arbutus bread. It’s gorgeous”.
Now open three months Marqette has already transformed the food service in Dublin airport, but for perfectionist Peter the only way is up, “I come in everyday and I have a list in my head of what I want to achieve. I am benchmarking myself. I have to go home and be able to say I achieved something”. This belief and commitment to the venture goes far beyond the realms of Terminal 1 however, “there is potential for us to get that brand out there. That’s one of the main reasons I’m on board”. It seems making a lasting impression on the thousands of people that pass through Dublin Airport will not be enough for the chef. “We can’t sit on our laurels. I want to be the best not just in Dublin Airport. I want to be the best wherever we are” Peter says. With this drive and ambition it won’t be long before Marqette is in full flight.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after a brief dalliance with law, she completed a Masters degree in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.