Good cooking starts with good produce and when you have the richness of the Irish larder to choose from there’s an opportunity to really soar. What you see on a plate in Chapter One is an expression of many artisans, many landscapes and much hardworking talent. And all that happens long before the cooking even begins. Many of our specialist growers and artisan producers have been supplying us since the earliest days in the nineties.
Our location on the Northside of Dublin was a notoriously difficult place to trade. Yet people who cared about food came, and suppliers who were passionate about their uniquely Irish produce came too – integrity of produce was what united us. We rely on their drive, passion and determination to achieve so much of what we do here and their influence cannot be underestimated.
So many things inspire me and my cooking, the landscape, the seasons and most especially the new Irish artisans. Their produce was like a palette of flavours and textures to play with. A path had already been carved out for them by the artisan cheese sector and by people like Veronica Steele and Myrtle Allen, but I’d always wanted Chapter One to be an Irish restaurant with an international standard.
I spent some time in Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli in Catalonia in 1996. He is possibly the most influential chef of the last 50 years and his genius helped me develop a new way of thinking about food. This was a radical change for me but one inspired by my own landscape, raw materials, artisan producers and craftspeople. On short trips to Brittany I met Olivier Roellinger who owned a three-starred Michelin restaurant in Cancale and now devotes his life to the promotion of spices in cuisine through his spice shops, Epices Roellinger in Paris and Saint-Malo. He opened up a world of spices for me which have a very real and historical relevance to British and Irish food.
Since the beginning of Chapter One, I have tried to look at food with an open mind and coloured in the pictures of flavour and texture through a slow progression of self-development. Today our food is part of a story that is still unfolding, but it will always reflect honesty and integrity because these elements are the very soul of our food..
If the kitchen is the engine room of Chapter One then the restaurant is most definitely “The Good Room”! It has been renovated and upgraded over the past five years under the watchful eye of our interior architect Maria MacVeigh. It is sleek and elegant with the use of textured fabrics and warm colours to create a comfortable and elegant space.
We made a conscious effort to source Irish crafts people who have made various pieces for us, such as Kieran Higgins’ bog oak sculpts, Joe Hogan’s hand woven baskets, Colm Hassett’s beautiful table for the Jameson Room and David Coyne’s bespoke pedestals and stunning table in the Demi Salle. The wood used in these pieces is all sourced in Ireland and our artwork is from predominantly Irish artists. We are very committed to celebrating the integrity of people who are masters of their craft.