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Moville chef's Michelin-star stint 21.09.10

POPULAR Inishowen chef Brian McDermott has just returned from a week working with Michelin star celebrity chef, Raymond Blanc.
Brian, who is a part-time lecturer at the North West Regional College in Derry, spent a week at Blanc's two-star Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons in Oxford, and is bubbling with enthusiasm about his experience.
A former student himself, Brian has been working with the trainees at the college since March this year, through the Industry into Education programme organised by LSDA and North West Regional College. He has been helping staff and students in Hospitality and Catering to discover the importance and benefits of growing your own produce.
It was with great excitement then, that Brian accepted the offer to work for a week under the direction of Blanc and his team at Le Manoir, which is renowned for its multi-acre gardens in which much of the restaurant’s produce is grown fresh each season. The opportunity arose thanks to college catering lecturer Douglas Walker, who completed a placement at the Oxfordshire complex in 2008, and who has maintained a link with the Michelin star staff.
“I was in awe of the gardens, which are cared for by eight full-time staff” said Brian. All of Le Manoir’s team of 56 chefs are encouraged to visit the vegetable and herb patches, and to pick fresh produce to use each day.”
Brian was expected to pitch in with the staff, and worked in the intricate pastry section for two days and on the savoury side for three days. “I was impressed by the commitment and loyalty shown by the staff in every section of the kitchen. I have returned enthused and inspired by their passion and dedication to detail in taste and style.”
During his week Brian got a sneak peek at the dishes that will feature in Raymond Blanc’s upcoming TV series, Kitchen Secrets, as filming was taking place in the restaurant. “It was amazing to see Raymond at work in the kitchen, but you’ll have to wait until it airs to see the dishes I saw being cooked!”
Brian’s approach to his career in cookery was changed drastically when his health deteriorated due to a heart condition. “I had to re-evaluate my attitude to food and to find a healthier way of working and preparing food.” The consequence of this change has been the development of his new career as a community chef, spreading the message to local communities that it is simple to prepare dishes that are healthier for the whole family.
“I am encouraging people to
North West Regional College lecturer, Douglas Walker, left, is given some advice on the new raised bed and herbs at the Strand Road campus by chef Brian McDermott, who recently completed a placement at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir.
reunite with food – giving them the knowledge and skills to increase their use of fresh produce, which impacts positively on their health and on the environment by reducing the food miles of the everyday meals we consume.”
For those working in the industry, Brian’s approach to greener catering can also help to reduce the stress levels of an often hectic job. “By taking the time each day to tend to and pick fresh herbs and vegetables, chefs can get away from the pressures of the kitchen. I am hoping the raised beds and herb garden in the College will be expanded as research has shown that the scent of certain herbs can alleviate stress, so all students and staff could benefit from these herbs growing around the campus.”
The next big step for Brian is the launch of his book, 'Reunite with Food by the Community Chef', which will be launched in the NWRC next month. “My experience in Le Manoir has given me even more ideas and a renewed energy to get the message to as many people as possible that they can change their health and their environment by choosing locally grown ingredients. I’ve been inspired by many of the Michelin star dishes I helped to prepare during my time, and I am already planning new recipes that could be adapted at home.”
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