'I spent six weeks every summer in Ireland as a kid tucking into Aunty Philly’s feasts'
Life & Style

'I spent six weeks every summer in Ireland as a kid tucking into Aunty Philly’s feasts'

IT was the 1980s when Michael Riordan first embarked on his career in the kitchen.

Inspired by the work ethic of his Irish parents and summers in Ireland as a child, he is now Executive Chef at the Conrad London St James hotel in Westminster.

"My mum and dad are both from Ireland, Waterford and Kerry respectively, and they started with very little," he says.

"Over the years they have built up their own business, mainly through drive and hard work, and provided a fantastic environment for four young boys to grow up in."

Scroll down for Michael's Slow Braised Beef recipe

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When it came to starting his own family, Riordan didn't look far from home and Ireland continues to play a big part in his life.

"My wife is from Adamstown in Wexford and we have spent many years there with our own family," he says.

The Ring of Kerry ('stunning') and Portlaw in Co. Waterford are among his favourite places to visit.

"My mum is from there and we spent the whole of our six week holiday playing there as kids. We’d be out all day and return for Aunty Philly’s feast," he says.

The challenges of life in the kitchen have been matched by in his personal life.

"We were newly married when my wife, Eileen, had acute kidney failure. We didn’t think she would pull through and we were told that if she did survive, it would mean a life of dialysis and no childre," he adds.

"She pulled through though. She doesn’t have to have dialysis and we have three grown up kids.

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"My wife was and still is the love of my life. Without her I wouldn’t have achieved or been given the opportunities that I have been given in my career or personal life."

Riordan now lives in Hornchurch, Essex where the best thing about life there is the community and his neighbours.

"It reminds of Ilford when we were kids. The worst thing about it is everyone thinks that you are part of the The Only Way Is Essex," he jokes.

Back to talk fo food and you're likely to find a copy of White Heat by Marco Pierre on the chef's coffee table.

"At the time it was very inspirational," he says.

Right now though, he's busy developing a new spring menu for 2018.

"All our young chefs, including the apprentice chef, are writing up and producing the whole menu. We want to highlight the talent in our kitchen and will include their names and countries of origin on the menu."

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Hungry? Try one of the chef Michael Riordan's favourite recipes below...

Slow braised beef cheek with horseradish mash, heritage roasted carrots, woodland mushrooms and smoked bacon

Perfect for a Sunday lunch

Ingredients

Ox Cheek

Mash potato

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Pancetta lardons

Heritage carrots

Wild mushroom

Maple syrup

Veal jus

Crispy shallot ring

Mix cress

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Baby turnips

Kale

How to make it...

Clean the ox cheek, seal in a pan with salt, pepper and olive oil

After, braise the cheek in veal stock or chicken stock with veg mire poix (carrot, leek, celery, onion, garlic, herb bouquet)

Cook at 130*C for 3h, until tender; reduce and refine the sauce

Boil the potato, mash and mix the milk, double cream and butter already reduce, season with salt and nut meg add grated fresh horseradish

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Sauté the wild mushroom, season with salt, pepper and thyme

Cut the pancetta in lardons, remove most of the fat and sauté in maple syrup, mix with the mushroom

Cook in sugar and water the heritage carrots, baby turnips

Saute the kale in butter

Put the shallot rings in milk, pass through flour and fry until crispy

Plate as shown, decorate with mix cress

Assemble as shown

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