Skip to content
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal

Off-duty dinners: 7 top Irish chefs share the meals they cook when nobody's watching

At the end of a long night in the kitchen… what’s for dinner?
Jun 6th 2018, 3:52 PM 28,600 16

WHEN IT COMES to cooking, we all have go-to meals we like to whip together at the end of a long day. Think beans on toast, omelettes or a simple stir fry.

Chefs are no different. While they may spend their days toiling away in kitchens and concocting inventive dishes, they also have their old reliables that always seem to hit the spot.

We asked some of the country’s most eminent culinary talents what they like to cook for themselves when they’re off the clock.

Holly Dalton, 3fe

“One of my go-to meals is a toasted bagel with soft scrambled eggs, anchovies and hot sauce.

“It literally takes five minutes to make and kind of works for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all three in one day). You’ve got the crunch of the bagel, the softness of the eggs and the hot and salty-ness of the anchovies and hot sauce to bring it all home. The whole thing will come in well under a fiver and it’s zero effort.”

Holly Dalton is Head Chef of 3fe on Lower Grand Canal Street, Dublin 2. 

Conor Mee, The Courthouse

View this post on Instagram

#fish #carrickmacross #courthouse

A post shared by Courthouse Restaurant (@courthouserestaurant) on

“So here is a dish that never fails to please on a Sunday night at the end of our week. It’s a bit of ‘what’s left in the fridge?’ but we always have some fresh tomatoes of a sort and tinned chickpeas or butter beans and Greek yogurt. As we live in the country, we have no takeaways beside us so this is a sort of Indian-style dish to spice up the palate.”

“Cook some shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add chopped tomatoes, spices (coriander, cumin, fenugreek, chilli, smoked paprika), chickpeas, and a bit of cauliflower if you have it. Season and cook for ten minutes or so with herbs from the garden and scallions if you have them.”

Pot on the table and serve with yogurt and maybe a glass of something smooth!

Conor Mee is chef and proprietor of The Courthouse, an award-winning restaurant in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan. 

Jess Murphy, Kai

“When you’re off the clock, simplicity applies. In most professional kitchens you have equipment and time and storage. But in a home kitchen you don’t have a Pacojet or a Big Green Egg. The reality sets in most of the time that you are only at home to cook one or two nights a week max, so essentially all you have are condiments and wine!”

“That is when I find breakfast my favourite to eat at home. Making a beautiful porridge with stewed apples that you can make up in advance and stick in the freezer. This with a large pot of filtered coffee is really one of my favourites.”

Jess Murphy is head chef and co-owner of Kai in Galway City. She was recently named Best Chef at the Irish Restaurant Awards. 

Peter Everett, Everett’s

View this post on Instagram

Head Chef Peter with Dean working in the background

A post shared by Everett's (@everetts_restaurant) on

“I have to plan ahead for the week as most days it’s a late finish for me. A lasagne made on a Monday evening is really easy to do and makes for a great, no hassle dinner later in the week when I get home.

“Childhood memories shape the food I enjoy now, and it reminds me of family dinners around the table with the big lasagne dish in the centre. I like to use smoked bacon for extra flavour and give it a heat kick with some fresh chilli. It’s a comforting, tasty meal at any time of the year.”

Peter Everett is head chef and co-owner of Everett’s in Waterford City.

Helen Noonan, Bastion

“After work, it’s one of two things. It’s either a plate of cheeses with ham, quince, and whatever sourdough was left over from the day. We always have some Iberico or good prosciutto in the fridge. My current favourite cheeses are Oisín, a blue, and a fantastic goat cheese from Belturbet, Co. Cavan called Corleggy.”

“If it’s something warmer we are after, I make sambal, an Indonesian chili paste, every few months and always have a pot in the fridge. I’ll then have some Indonesian eggs, which is just a few fried eggs with some lapcheong sausage, sambal, coriander, and crispy shallots baked for a few minutes. (You can pick up lapcheong sausage in the Asian market.)

“I finish it with a little ABC sweet soy sauce. It’s a three-minute job and goes great with some of our leftover sourdough from the restaurant.”

“Both of course need a nice glass of wine!”

Helen Noonan is proprietor of Bastion, an award-winning restaurant in Kinsale.

Anthony Smith, Mr Fox

View this post on Instagram

Monsieur Renard. Top spot!

A post shared by Robin Blandford (@robin.blandford) on

“I am so busy at the moment that when I do go home, I don’t tend to cook too much for myself. But when I am in need of some comfort food after a long day my go-to is a grilled cheese, American style.”

Anthony Smith is head chef and co-owner of Mr Fox on Parnell Square, Dublin 1. 

JP McMahon, Aniar

View this post on Instagram

Wonderful photo from @terroirhospitality #TerroirWarsaw

A post shared by Jp McMahon (@mistereatgalway) on

“At home, I love to cook things whole, whether it’s a chicken or fish on the bone. Both are super simple. Sprinkling milled nori seaweed over your chicken gives it a wonderful extra umami flavour. 45 minutes at 200 degrees and you’re done.

“For the fish, place the whole piece on top of some leeks with 250ml of wine and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t forget to season both with oil and salt as these help bring out the flavour of the product you’re cooking.”

JP McMahon is a chef, author and restauranteur. He is the co-owner of Aniar, Cava Bodega, and Tartare Café + Wine Bar. He founded Food on the Edge, a food symposium that takes place each year in Galway. 

Send a tip to the author

Amy O'Connor


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a comment

    cancel reply
    Back to top