Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A Taste of Belfast

Path to Cultra 

Original Palace still intact 
 I started working in Northern Ireland in the Culloden hotel in Belfast back in June and have been flat out working even since. Most weeks comprise of 6 day weeks like all chefs or anyone within the hospitality industry this is mainly down to the shortage of staff/chefs at the moment in Ireland so it is something you just have to suck up and get on with or maybe a change of career choice.

View for Bedroom window

The Culloden is a five star hotel being named Ireland’s luxury hotel of the year 2017 and The Mitre resturant obtaining a Michelin recommended status in the same year so getting to be part of the team is an award in itself. The Culloden Estate and Spa to give it its full name caters for a lot of people in the scence that on offer the have the Cultra Inn; which is located on the grounds outside the hotel which caters for locals with pub grub and other small light bites, they have their fine dining restaurant The Mitre which fortunately for me is where I’m based is ran by top Northern Irish chef Paul McKnight. With breath taking views across Belfast Lough, it serves modern Irish Cuisine using only the finest and freshest local ingredients. Also they have the Crozier lounge which offers bar food for the residents within the hotel and also its various function rooms.

Herb Garden
 The hotel itself sits on top of the Holywood Hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim Coastline. Originally built as an official Palace for the Bishops of Down, the Culloden stands in 12 acres of beautiful secluded gardens and woodland including its own herb and vegetable garden which as a young is great to work with such fresh and ready available ingredients. In the Mitre there are only two chefs myself and another chef de partie (now you can see what I mean by understaffed) we are also in charge of the Crozier lounge food and we give a hand to functions as well if we have the time. Week days we usually do thirty people in the restaurant and from Friday we do approximately fifty plus a night not bad going for two twenty year olds.

Foraging on Holywood Beach 

While working in The Culloden I am also living within the hotel itself which has its ups and downs although when making the decision to work for the organisation I taught that it would be a wonderful experience to live in a place you worked, but now that I’ve done that for a while reality sets in and you realise it an get a bit overwhelming and relative most days being eat ,sleep, work and repeat. However on the bright side you have twenty four hour access to the kitchen and the ingredients within the vicinity so when its quiet you an experiment and create new sample dishes which is important for me to keep my mind occupied and thinking about food constantly. Since I’ve started I’ve been engrossed into food culture and where it comes from  with trips  foraging on Holywood beach which is fifteen minutes’ walk from the hotel to sourcing the best local ingredients on my day off  .

By Nicholas Murphy
@ The Mitre Restaurant 
Northern Ireland 

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