Chef Profile December 2017: Alex Greene, head chef at michelin-starred Deanes Eipic, Belfast
Alex Greene, head chef at michelin-starred Deanes Eipic talks to Alyson Magee
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO COOKING?
My first job was in a kitchen washing dishes and doing general vegetable preparation and things like that when I was 11. That was in a local restaurant, the Buck’s Head in Dundrum, and then Alison Crothers started bringing me into the kitchen more when I was 13, 14 and 15, and that’s where it all began.
HAVE YOU ANY CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS?
I studied in Newry for the NVQ 1, 2 and 3 from the age of 16 to 18, and then I went back to college when I was 21 to do my culinary arts degree.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE TRADE?
I went from the Buck’s Head to the Michelin-starred Deanes Restaurant in Howard Street, Belfast when I was 17 as chef de partie.
I worked at Deanes for two years and then went to London to join The Gordon Ramsay Group. For the majority of the time I worked at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s and then for a while at Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus as chef de partie.
I spent nearly two years in London before leaving for New Zealand where I worked as a sous chef at a fusion restaurant called Saffron, which is one of the best restaurants in Southland. I was in New Zealand for a year and a half, and then there was a six-month period when I came back to Ireland and worked in a number of different places including the Cliff House Hotel in Co Waterford.
HAS ANYONE INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
All the people I have worked with have inspired me, Alison at the Buck’s Head; Michael Deane of Deanes; Steve Allen at Claridge’s; and Peter Gawron at Saffron in New Zealand. I especially admire Michael Deane’s management style, and the support and time he gives to all of the Deanes chefs.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN YOUR CURRENT VENUE?
I came to Deanes EIPIC in May last year and have just been appointed head chef.
WHAT STYLE IS YOUR COOKING?
From the early days, especially working at Deanes, it has been classical flavours with modern influences.
In New Zealand, the head chef was of Thai origin and introduced me to a lot of new ingredients. It was certainly not the classic British flavours, but something a bit different, so I learned a lot about fusion cooking and new ingredients and new ideas.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
As local as possible. We get our vegetables from a grower in Comber, Leon Fraser; if you want something he’ll grow it for you and 90% of our vegetables come from him. Our meat also comes from local suppliers, Peter Hannan and Carnbrooke, and our fish is from Irish waters.
WHAT SIZE IS YOUR STAFF?
In EIPIC, we have four kitchen staff in total, including myself.
WHOSE CAREER WOULD YOU WISH TO EMULATE?
It would be no one person, I’ve taken different influences from the different chefs I have been lucky enough to work with so far. I believe it’s important to take influence from other chefs but also to remain original and true to my own cooking style.
HAVE YOU ANY INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK?
Foraging, it’s something I always do on my days off. I’m from Dundrum, and it’s fantastic around Tollymore Forest and up Slieve Donard, and then along Murlough Nature Reserve for things like sea herbs and sea vegetables. For the size of the area, there’s a lot of great stuff can be sourced.
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