Devon Life meets Robert Ireland, sous chef at Exeter Golf and Country Club
PUBLISHED: 10:46 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:39 20 February 2013
Robert Ireland, sous chef at Exeter Golf and Country Club, shares his foodie passions
Devon Life meets Robert Ireland, sous chef at Exeter Golf and Country Club and shares his foodie passions
What is your earliest food memory?
The smell of my grandmothers homemade chicken casserole - she made it with her homegrown potatoes and vegetables which made it extra special.
What were the flavours of your childhood?
As a child I enjoyed simple home cooking, like stews and casseroles, using ingredients from local butchers, grocers and farms. I used to help my grandmother grow her vegetables and I suppose that made me so passionate about really making to most of local produce.
What made you decide to be a chef?
My dad worked in a local pub and I helped in the kitchen so becoming a chef was a natural progression for me. Plus, my mum always told me women love a man who can cook!
What was your first experience of cooking professionally?
I worked at Effings on Queen Street, a delicatessen and balcony restaurant which used only local products, so it was the perfect start really.
Any outstanding successes or disasters in those early days?
Working at Effings, a company so dedicated to the providence of food was the perfect start to my career and a huge success for me personally.
How did your career progress?
After Effings, I gained a great deal of experience working for an agency. Finally, I dug my heels in at Exeter Golf and Country Club and progressed through the ranks from chef de partie through to my current position as sous chef. The restaurant back then was for members of the club only however it opened to the public last year as Wear Park Bar and Restaurant.
What sort of foods and flavours inspire you today?
I love fresh ingredients, especially those grown, reared or produced in Devon. I am a huge fan of traditional classics but love to combine styles and ideas to make them original.
Do you have any food hates?
I dont like to say I hate any food but, baked beans and peas arent top of my flavour tree.
Do you have any signature dishes?
Rack of lamb and garlic and rosemary chateau potatoes with celeriac puree and redcurrant jus. I love cooking it and love eating it.
How important is sourcing for you?
Sourcing is everything to me. It is also incredibly important to our customers. People love knowing that what theyre eating comes from just around the corner so we are dedicated to ensuring this happens at Wear Park Bar and Restaurant.
Your local suppliers?
All our bread rolls for functions and Wear Park Bar and Restaurant come from artisan bakers, Teign Valley Bakery. Our fish is delivered daily by Kingfishers of Brixham and our meat comes from Dennis Family Butchers, sourced around Devon and the South West.
Describe the best meal you ever had.
At a pub near Haytor called The Rock in the spring, I had the most incredible Caesar salad with the freshest vegetables and juiciest chicken.
Who inspired you in the cooking world?
I love watching Jamie Oliver and his no messing around attitude towards food.
Who would you like to have round for a dinner party?
I could suggest all sorts of famous names and characters but really and truthfully I would just love to have all my friends and my big family round to get together for a big knees up!
Which ingredient could you not do without?
Garlic. I simply love it.
Exeter Golf and Country Club
Wear House, Countess Wear,Exeter, EX2 7AE