We were delighted to catch up with Arthur, Head Chef at the Commons Express Inn, Co. Cork wedding venue. Arthur told us about his wonderful team and how local, fresh produce is the best way to the most memorable meals.
What is your background, Arthur?
“After arriving in Ireland from Toronto, Canada in 2005, I lived for three months at Ballymaloe House. From watching Myrtle Allen deal with her chefs and local suppliers, I quickly learned how good the local food is.
I walked about Cork popping my head into each eatery trying to decide which one I would like to work for. I narrowed the list down to three and set about introducing myself. Lucky for me , the top pick on my list, The Bodega snapped me up right away.
I built a great team there and we quickly became very popular with folks, who wanted to see their local ingredients used in a new light. When the owners Jay and Eoin decided to sell the Bodega in early 2007, I took my team and moved across the River Lee and opened the Hardwood Restaurant.
It featured a real charcoal grill and the menu changed weekly based on what fresh ingredients we could get from the local butchers, farmers and fish mongers. It was a smallish, 55 seat restaurant and we enjoyed 5 good years there.”
What’s the best thing about working at the Commons Express Inn in Cork?
“The team we have in the kitchen! I was very lucky that my crew from Hardwood wanted to join me here. We have been together 10 years now and can cook up a storm for those who want something different. We also do traditional very well. The Commons Inn entertains such a wide variety of clientele, that we get to cook almost everything imaginable, at one time or another!
The best thing about being in Cork? It is the ‘Food Basket of Ireland’ after all. The local produce here is among the best in the world! Believe this from a Toronto Chef who got to see quality from everywhere on the globe. Cork is definitely among the best.”
What 3 ingredients do you most love to cook with?
“Fresh Herbs , Fresh Garlic and Fresh Peppers.
We do a lot of marinading here and a fair bit of grilling. the flavours you can impart by letting your lamb, pork or beef lay in fresh thyme, rosemary and garlic is astounding! Chucking a small amount of sliced up red chilli pepper in the marinade gives a subtle flavourful heat.”
What are your favourite meals to cook?
“If I’m very honest, cooking for events and using the Barbecue Grill does it for me. Coming up with interesting starters or finger foods really gets me going. Being a Canadian boy, the backyard was king at home and anytime I can pass that magic on here in Ireland, I smile.”
Have you any exciting plans, menu items, styles for your bride’s and grooms’ wedding meals?
“We are always developing our “bag of tricks” here at the Commons. Every time we get our hands on a new ingredient, we test it out in the restaurant here, or on the carvery in many different ways.
We are also currently focusing on “Slow Food”. While anyone should be able to cook a premium cut of meat, Getting all the flavour out of them and the much under used “lesser cuts” is a craft worth tasting. We are taking cuts from the neck and back and by taking the time to marinade for a day or two, cook slowly for 6 – 8 hours after that and then letting the meat rest properly, delivers on flavours that most folks do not have the time or patience for.”
The day of a wedding must be busy and exciting in The Commons Inn after months of planning with couples? How do you and your team in the kitchen prepare?
“We start by talking with our local suppliers to ensure the best food will be set aside and available for us on the days we need them. Then we schedule all the marinading, preparation and cooking for each element of the meal so that each one is bursting with the maximum of flavour at the time of eating. This is a memorable special day for couples and we want them to get our best effort!”
Thanks so much to Arthur for taking the time to chat with us. This post has made us so hungry…! Find out more about the Commons Express Inn for your perfect wedding day.