When an award-winning chef gives you tips for Christmas, well, one should listen!
Val Murphy is the head chef at the Ashdown Park Hotel, Gorey, and he and his team have brought home many awards during 2019. In November, the team won the Leinster Great Roast Hotel in the Knorr Professional Ireland’s Great Roast Competition.
And, earlier this year, the hotel pipped serious international competition to bring home a silver medal for its rib-eye steak and a bronze for its sirloin steak at the World Steak Challenge. “We were up against over 300 competitors from 40 countries in the Challenge, including the big beef-producing countries like Australia, the US, New Zealand,” says Val, who hails from Ballyedmond, just outside Gorey.
BEST FOR BEEF
These awards are great validation for the hotel menu, which showcases the best of fresh produce from the family run Bord Bia Origin Green award-winning Redmond Farm. “We have beef on every menu 24/7 – you can have beef and eggs for breakfast, we have beef on the carvery menu, and you can have beef pizza at night.” Indeed, this boutique hotel offers tailored beef/steak packages to guests as well!
“It’s the best beef I’ve ever worked with and, I believe, the best beef in the country. We grow the feed for the cattle ourselves and we have full control over the process from the field to the fork. The farm also supplies us with potatoes, salads during the summer, seasonal vegetables, herbs. In the summer, you can nearly smell the carrots when they’re delivered from the farm, they’re that fresh.”
TASTE THE ISLAND
With daily deliveries from the farm, which is just eight miles away, the approach at the Ashdown Park is a real celebration of Taste the Island with its organic and sustainable approach to local, seasonal, high-quality ingredients.
Val’s signature dish for guests in the hotel is a braised short rib of beef with turnip purée, spring onion mash, and roast garlic jus. And who would he present this fine meal to? “Marco Pierre White – he’s the godfather of the culinary world and someone I’d look up to. He has stayed true to the ingredients and the craft.”
Here’s are Val’s Christmas Tips
Sit down, make a list, be prepared, no last-minute additions, and get as much done as you can beforehand. That way, you can enjoy the preparations and have time to enjoy the day yourself.
Get a boned and rolled turkey. That saves on cooking time (about three hours less!), leaving you with more room and time in the oven for other dishes. And, as well, there’s a lot of waste in a turkey, so a boned and rolled turkey cuts down on waste (a great tip in today’s climate!)
KEEP IT SIMPLE
If you’ve really good ingredients, keep it simple. Let the ingredients speak for themselves. Val’s motto in the kitchen is to keep it simple and do it well. Stick with what you like. “For instance, I love sausage meat stuffing, so that is what I’ll prepare when I’m cooking for over 30 people at home this Christmas.” Don’t overcomplicate the courses, and that goes for the vegetables and sides as well. Even if it’s just steak and chips for dinner some day, make sure it’s the best steak and the best chips – that’s my approach.
Hint: Try the gin and beetroot cured salmon on the menu at the Ashdown!
SOURCE LOCAL PRODUCE
“Eighty-five per cent of our produce is sourced locally and we work with our suppliers to use seasonal produce,” says Val, adding that the lush green countryside and fabulous coastline of North Wexford, in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East, mean that people have a wonderful choice of meats, seafood, vegetables, and cheese for any meal, including Christmas dinner!
North Wexford has always been a food destination, says Val, with the area well known for its strawberries and potatoes. “We have the best seafood in the world.”
You’ll find the Ashdown Park Hotel at Coach Road, Gorey, Co Wexford.
T: 053 948 0500
Interview: Deirdre O’Flynn