A chef currently hard at work cooking for frontline staff at Naas hospital and vulnerable people in Kilcullen will host a new eight-part cookery series, Cook-In, which debuts at 8.30pm on RTÉ One tonight, Wednesday, May 6.
The show will focus on catering for our newly-restricted lifestyles, and achieving big flavour with a little help from ingredients we all have at the back of the kitchen cupboard.
Chef Mark Moriarty, who is splitting his time filming this new series and feeding frontline staff over the coming weeks, has plenty of recipes up his sleeve that will meet all viewers' lockdown needs whether they are living alone or cooking for the whole family.
Mark, a chef at the two-Michelin star restaurant The Greenhouse in Dublin is also putting his cooking skills to a very different use right now. He has teamed up with a not-for-profit initiative preparing meals for frontline staff fighting Covid-19 in the ICU of Naas General and Connolly hospitals, as well as four local nursing homes and community support meals via Gardaí in Kilcullen. Other members of the team include head chef of The Greenhouse Mickael Viljanen, along with Paddy Lee and Redmond Fine Foods. This service is provided three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with the team cooking everything themselves from the kitchen of Fallon’s of Kilcullen.
Mark said: “I am delighted to be presenting Cook-In sponsored by Bord Bia which I hope will give you useful and practical advice for creating simple dishes, while you stay safe at home during the ongoing pandemic. It is all about using what you already have in the kitchen cupboard and giving it a new lease of life, seeing as we can’t head to the supermarket as frequently as usual.
"I’ll be taking inspiration from the food we usually cook after work in the restaurant as well as my new found experience in preparing food for frontline workers; meals that have to be prepared quickly, on a budget, using what you’ve got leftover and of course, they have to be delicious. I’m aiming to keep things simple, using three or four steps for each dish - but hopefully, my experience as a chef and knowledge of ingredients can help elevate your cupboard essentials into a delicious dish.”
He added: “I’m extremely proud to be working alongside Bord Bia and RTÉ and showcasing the fantastic ingredients and food producers we can boast of here in Ireland. It’s a difficult time for many industries. I hope we can showcase the hard work being done in the food and drink industry in Ireland right now, keeping shelves stocked and businesses afloat.”
This week follow Mark’s five-step lamb curry, the ideal lockdown dish that anyone can slow-cook as they go about their daily activities, using in-season Quality Assured Irish lamb. Get his top tips on baking traditional Irish soda bread with a cheesy, veggie twist in his Daily Bake segment, and if you have bought more pasta than you know what to do with, his simple spaghetti, chilli, garlic and bacon dish should go down a treat at dinner time – and is of course just as delicious without the bacon as a vegetarian option!
Along the way, Mark’s experience of serving up two Michelin star status food in The Greenhouse, Dublin will shine through as he offers advice on getting the extra mile out of ingredients. Whether it is how to reactivate spices that have been sitting on the spice rack unused for years, using a squeeze of lemon to elevate the flavour of your dish, or the importance of seasoning boiling water before cooking your pasta, Mark will offer up the many gems of foodie wisdom he has garnered over the years. As the show is being filmed following HSE social distancing guidelines, Mark is also helping the one-man camera crew to film close ups of his delicious dishes, even using his smartphone to film while cooking!
Mark will also be checking in with the Gastro Gays, popular food bloggers based in the Boyne Valley, Co Louth who are putting their best foot forward to help sustain business for food producers locally and nationwide with their online directory of over 300 food suppliers operating delivery services during lockdown.
They will chat to Mark over a video call to tell him a little bit more about the inspiration behind the comprehensive list on their website, which includes the heavy hitters of the Irish food industry as well as lesser known farmers and producers, and also share their thoughts on the “renaissance” in the food industry here in Ireland in recent times as consumers want to reconnect with the food chain and understand the processes behind getting their food from farm to fork.