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20 Questions with Donal Skehan

09 Sep 2019

TV Host, Cook & Producer shares his song of the summer, how he stays inspired and the bravest thing he's ever done..

  1. When are you happiest?

 Out in nature, walking the dog and going for hikes. One of my favorite places in the world is the Howth Cliff Walk. 

  1. What’s the most treasured item in your kitchen?

My knife. It is the workforce of the kitchen.

  1. Who taught you how to cook?

My mom and my aunt. My mom was a great home cook and my aunt worked in the food business so we were always encouraged to get involved in the kitchen. My grandmother was also a great cook so it was definitely in the genes!

  1. What excites you most about your work?

The opportunity to work with a subject that is constantly evolving. You travel the world, and you are always just tipping the iceberg of the different ingredients and flavors you can explore. This world of food is so huge and that for me is the most exciting part.

  1. What do you miss most about Ireland living in LA?

 Good Irish ingredients. You can make an Irish stew out here but it doesn’t taste the same because it is not made with Irish lamb or Irish vegetables. I tell people all the time, you have to go home to get the best ingredients. I miss great seafood, great cheese, great produce.

  1. Past, present or future, who is on the guest list, made by you?

Obama, Oprah, my grandmother who was one of my big influences in terms of cooking, she was a fantastic cook that could turn her hand to anything with confidence. I’d also invite my grandfather on my dad’s side, who was one of my big inspirations during my childhood. I would also invite the crew of family and friends that we would always have around!

  1. What advice do you give to people who aren’t confident in the kitchen?

Choose five recipes that really like the sound of, that excites you and you want to make. If you can nail those five basic recipes you’ll get satisfaction from knowing you can do it and it will give you the confidence to continue to cook more.

  1. How would your friends describe you in four words?

Annoyingly energetic & mostly fun.

  1. How do you stay inspired?

 Travel is my biggest source of inspiration. In the different TV shows we have done across Italy, Vietnam and Thailand, I always come back with new ideas and new ingredients I haven’t cooked with before with. Also, looking at what’s in season can be a great source of inspiration in terms of what to cook now. I will go to the cheese shop near here and ask them what is good now? What are you excited about? And often that can be that kernel that inspires the entire dish.

  1. What is the best recent food trend?

I am really taken by the idea of fermentation and the idea of including more good bacteria in your gut. I think the science behind it is fascinating. We are trying to eat a lot more kimchi and sauerkraut.

  1. What did you have for dinner last night?

Last night I was cooking in the kitchen with a fantastic food writer Katie Parla who is an expert in Italien cuisine, we were filming a video for youtube and she left lots of fresh pasta doe here so myself and my son Noah made pasta with a walnut pesto, slow-roasted tomatoes, and burrata – it was phenomenal!

  1. What living person do you most admire?

 From a food writing point of view, I really admire Nigel Spadar. He is a constant reminder to bring it back to the ingredients, back to the flavor, back to simplicity!

  1. What’s on your music playlist?

 My song of the summer is Harvest Moon by Neil Young and my album of the summer is Joni Mitchell’s Blue

  1. Your idea of hell on earth?

Being unprepared for a cooking demonstration on a live TV show like Saturday Kitchen

  1. Where’s the most delicious place in the world?

Vietnam, hands down. The seafood in Hanoi is one of my favorite places in the world to enjoy it.

  1. What is your favourite ingredient to work with?

The wonderful world of veg and any dish I can transform seasonally excites me! 

  1. What is the most important lesson cooking has taught you?

To have confidence in the kitchen and to know that even if you follow the recipe and it goes a little wrong you can still save a bit of that!

  1. What’s the most impressive dish you can throw together with 3 ingredients?

Any dish with pasta, pesto and burrata and you are in a good place! 

  1. What’s one thing you can’t live without?

My cookbook collection! I have hundreds of cookboooks and they are my go to reference if I have a query about a recipe or an ingredient, I couldn’t live without them!

  1. What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Trying to have a music career without the ability to sing!

From gorgeous Gouda to magnificent Milleens – Cheese addicts will be well catered for at our stand at the National Ploughing Championships this year. Much-loved Irish chef Donal Skehan, will be in attendance to chat to us about his life in LA and as part of the #CheeseYourWay campaign, Donal Skehan will be cooking some of his delicious cheese recipes LIVE at our stand! Tue 17th Sept. Come visit us in Block 3, Row 18, Stand 397 #Ploughing19