Five minutes with Richard Corrigan

Richard Corrigan has so many accolades, it’s hard to know where to start. He was crowned winner of the Great British menu THREE times, gained a Michelin star, cooked for the queen, appeared on TV and toured America – to name just some of his achievements.

Corrigan has cooked all his life, and is opening new restaurants in 2022 as well as shepherds hut-style accommodation at his property in County Cavan, Ireland.

We caught up with Richard to find out about his food loves, worries and future plans.

Five minutes with Richard Corrigan

What’s your very first memory of food?
Eating poached bacon alongside cabbage from the garden and Colman’s English mustard. I spent a lot of my childhood eating it.

What’s the first recipe you properly learned to make?
My mother’s brown bread recipe. She would make it fresh every day and let me tell you, our house smelled delicious when I was growing up!

Did you have school dinners or packed lunches growing up? Any fond memories?
Always packed lunch and it was a very simple affair. A little cheddar, some of that brown bread, some pickle. In the summer months we’d get a little pot of chopped red onion, tomato and lettuce. Nothing extravagant but ever so flavourful.

What’s the one recipe you can’t live without?
Grilled turbot, mashed potatoes and a butter sauce with a spoonful of caviar added at the end. That’s got to be my dream plate of food right there.

What’s the one ingredient that you’d take to a desert island with you?
Cumin – it’s a very versatile spice which brings so much flavour to a dish. A little goes a long way.

You can have a one-off dinner party on your island… who would you invite?
It would have to be cooking greats Rowley Leigh and Stephen Bull. They are food gods to me. I’d get us all to cook a course.

What’s your all-time favourite cookbook?
Mastering the Art of French Cuisine which is a two-volume French cookbook written by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle and Julia Child. I have an original copy and it’s always inspired me.

Oysters are part of my life, they’re involved in everything I do and I couldn’t possibly live without them.

If you had to choose between giving up crab or oysters, which would you pick?
Oysters are part of my life, they’re involved in everything I do and I couldn’t possibly live without them.

How were your restaurants affected by Covid-19?
It’s been an incredibly tough few years and the impact the virus has had on the hospitality industry will be felt for years to come, there’s no doubt about that. Seeing our restaurants closed during the lockdowns was the hardest part for me. It was heartbreaking.

Which meal did you cook the most during the various lockdowns?
Oh a really nice roast chicken and salad. I’d make that once a week. A lovely organic, 2kg bird, get the skin nice and crisp, a bottle of good wine, the whole family round the table. Bliss.

What’s your most prized kitchen tool?
My chef’s knife that has been with me since I started cooking at 15-years old. It comes everywhere with me and is my prized possession.

What’s been the best meal you’ve had in a restaurant recently?
I took a trip up to Lancashire to visit 2 Michelin-starred Moor Hall and I tell you what, Mark Birchall and the team there are producing some of the finest cooking in the country.

What are your plans for your estate in County Cavan, Ireland?
Virginia Park Lodge is a true love of mine. It’s an 18th century hunting estate which I’ve been restoring to its former glory over the years. We now have some beautiful shepherds huts in the grounds and I’m excited for them to be filled with guests all summer long.

What keeps you awake at night?
The war in Ukraine. Brexit. The cost of living crisis. COVID.

What are your culinary ambitions for the year ahead?
We have some exciting new restaurants planned and to be able to open them, safely, with a brilliant team… well, there couldn’t be anything better.

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