Ask any Irish guest about a recent wedding they attended and chances are around 99% of them will give you a low-down of the menu. We are renowned foodies and take great pleasure in dissecting what was served for weeks after the celebrations. Everything from what cleansed our palettes, to what time it was served and the offering of wine at the table is scored meticulously.
And it’s no surprise that couples flock to venues with a superb reputation for cuisine when booking their special day. Annebrook House Hotel is the cream of the crop when it comes to dishing up delectable delicacies. We spoke with their Head Chef Paul Phillips to find out the secret behind their success.
Tell us about yourself and passion for food?
From when I was a 15-year-old making silly mistakes to now, food has always been a huge part of my life. I’m constantly thinking of new ideas. I love eating out and reading recipes – both new and old. I think you have to love food to work with it.
How did you become a chef and have you previously worked anywhere interesting?
I started washing pots as a part-time job when I was 15. I would watch the chefs and thought it would be something I could do. After three months as a KP, I got a job as a Commis Chef, I then got a job as a an Apprentice at the Citywest Hotel. From then, I went to work in numerous restaurants in Dublin. I ran my own catering company for four years and then returned to the Citywest Hotel as Head Restaurant Chef, followed by Head Chef of the overall resort. Four year’s ago, I took over the reigns of the kitchens at Annebrook House Hotel.
You are cooking for wedding couples and their guests every day. What is your favourite thing to cook for them?
It’s hard to pick from the array of dishes we produce for wedding couples here but I am proud of our braised beef daube which we are well known for. This is originally a dish we would have on our restaurant menu but couples began to request it for weddings and its gone down a treat! We only use Westmeath beef and the quality is excellent.
What are the biggest trends this year for food at weddings?
People are choosing lighter starter courses and more seasonal soups, 80 per cent of most weddings will request roast sirloin of beef but I think that trend is starting to change.
A little birdie told us Annebrook has won numerous awards in recent years! Congrats! Tell us a bit about those achievements?
I’ve always been heavily involved in competitions myself, both internationally and nationally. The rest of the team at Annebrook have also gotten involved with great success, we’ll also be well represented at the Chef Ireland competitions in February 2016.
What makes the wedding menu and food at Annebrook so special?
We prepare all dishes on site, from canapés to desserts. We plate all weddings “restaurant style” and buy locally where possible. Working closely with the couple to make sure their day is special is also very important.
What advice would you give couples for planning their wedding menu?
Take your time and ask plenty of questions at the tasting. Try strike a balance between your own taste and what you think your guests might like.
What are your top picks for summer 2016 desserts and winter 2015 canapés?
Summer desserts would be white chocolate cheesecake with fresh raspberries and raspberry sorbet. Winter canapés would be aged Cashel blue cheese, puff pastry or mulled pear, festive meat rillette, brioche and cranberry jelly.
Have you cooked any unique wedding dishes/desserts for couples in the past?
Recently we had a couple who requested monkfish for a banquet of 200, this was interesting to say the least!! They asked for it cooked simply and seasonally. I was very happy with how it went and more importantly so were they!