World Chefs: Cathal Armstrong returns to Irish roots in first cookbook

Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:11am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dublin-born Cathal Armstrong dug deep into his Gaelic roots for inspiration for his first book "My Irish Table," which includes recipes and stories about his journey as a chef.

Critics have praised Armstrong, who immigrated to the United States when he was 20, for his creative and healthy dishes that highlight vegetables and meat raised in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

With his Irish upbringing and classic European training, Armstrong takes a more global approach in the kitchen. At his fine-dining restaurant, Eve, in Alexandria, Virginia his menu often displays an Asian flair.

Armstrong, 44, spoke to Reuters about his career, the book that he co-wrote with food writer David Hagedorn, and the renaissance in Irish cooking.

Q: Do you think Irish food is misunderstood?

A: The biggest misunderstanding about Irish food is that it is limited to two to three dishes that are boiled until they are beyond recognition to what the food originally was. There was a reason for that. Ireland was oppressed for hundreds of years by a neighboring country. Because of its history, it had very limited access to raw materials widely available in the country.

It has a moderate, temperate climate. We grow green grass 365 days of the year. We graze cattle and sheep 365 days of the year. We could grow crops 365 days of the year. It is a tiny island surrounded on all sides by rich seas with the best oysters, the best lobsters you could find and Dublin Bay prawns,

which is a langoustine that is the most luxurious food you could find anywhere. So she has all the raw materials available to make the most exquisite food.   Continued...