Chef Profile January 2020: Mark Winter, sous chef, Catalina Restaurant at the Lough Erne Resort
Mark Winter, sous chef, Catalina Restaurant at the Lough Erne Resort, talks to HRNI
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO COOKING?
I’ve always wanted to be a chef. I was brought up around food my whole life from my grandmother to my mother who both loved to cook. This really gave me the inspiration to cook with passion and love.
HAVE YOU ANY CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS?
I have a Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery, a Level 3 Diploma in Professional cookery and I’m currently studying fo a degree in Hospitality Management.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE TRADE?
My culinary adventure started in 2011 as a student in Southern Regional college. I landed my first commis chef job when I was 16 in a modern, upbeat restaurant. I then moved to different restaurants – learning various techniques and skills in cuisine. I also worked in a bakery-styled kitchen and discovered baking and dessert trades. I’m now a sous chef at the Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh where I work with Noel McMeel, the executive head chef.
HAS ANYONE INSPIRED YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
I have always been very lucky to have the support of my family. My parents were always there. After losing my father a few years ago, I wasn’t sure that I could go on working in such a hard industry but out of somewhere, I got the job of my dreams and I’m loving it. I know he would be so proud.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN YOUR CURRENT VENUE?
I joined my current venue in July 2016 as a chef de partie and just over a year later, I became a sous chef.
WHAT STYLE IS YOUR COOKING?
I believe that food should always be a celebration and especially of local produce. My style is very similar to the type of modern Irish cuisine at the Lough Erne Resort – with a philosophy of sourcing, preparing and serving fresh seasonal food.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
There will always be trends in food sourcing. For me these words mean a lot: organic, fresh, taste, simple, seasonal, local and knowledge. I have always been convinced that the best-tasting food is freshly grown and harvested in ways that are environmentally friendly – by people who are taking care of the land for future generations.
WHAT SIZE IS YOUR STAFF?
As the sous chef of the award-winning Catalina Restaurant, I manage five full-time chefs. This is small compared to the other chefs who are managing larger teams and looking after other departments.
WHOSE CAREER WOULD YOU WISH TO EMULATE?
I think success for everyone is different. I enjoy working with everybody in the kitchen and they all have characteristics that I would like to emulate. I really appreciate working with people who bring positivity to the kitchen; in my current job, we all shake each other’s hands when we arrive and when we leave at the end of the night.
HAVE YOU ANY INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I like to travel and eat in some of the amazing places around the world. Golf is a massive