Irish born Chef Gavin Gleeson recently joined the Monte-Carlo Beach Club on Saadiyat Island as Executive Chef, following a career that included Michel-starred restaurants in Dublin and London, as well as Marco Pierre White’s Wheelers in Dubai. But what does he have in his fridge at home?
Growing up in a quiet corner of Limerick, Chef Gavin Gleeson is the first to admit that “my mother was an awful cook – we ate to survive and, with two boys in the family, you had to eat quickly!”
He became a chef just at the point that Irish produce was redicovered by the Irish, with the Celtic tiger boom created both a rush of quality foreign produce and a new found respect for native foods. “It all changed and you’d have aisles of amazing produce in the supermarkets – cured meats, everything. Before for cheese you’d maybe have had Cheddar and Babybel, now you had giant wheels of Parmesan and the rest!” Only a short time before, Irish cheesemakers would have to load up a van and drive to England or France to sell it because the Irish weren’t interested.
His career began with an apprenticeship at Dromoland Castle in County Clare, under a very old school chef, before he moved to London to work for Richard Corrigan at Lindsay House. A year later, he moved to Dublin to work with Kevin Thornton at Thornton’s Restaurant – the first Irish chef to win two Michelin stars then, 18 months later, he took over the 5-star Aghadoe Heights Hotel in Kerry. So far, so good but five days after opening his own place more than three years later, the stock market crashed and, eventually and despite “a great reputation as one of Ireland’s ‘brilliant boys'”, he faced bancruptcy.
And so to Dubai, first at the InterContinental and then as Executive Chef of Marco Pierre White’s Wheeler’s, despite a childhood without fish as he mother had a phobia about it. His shift to the beach club allows him more leeway with his own personal style, although the club’s French Riviera heritage will also play a ket part of the developing menu. “Le Deck’s current emphasis on quality produce, exceptional service and creative dishes has created an excellent foundation on which I hope to develop,” he claims. “My aspiration for Le Deck will be to create Abu Dhabi’s most exquisite dining experience, celebrating the unique joie de vivre of the club’s European roots, whilst also pushing the culinary boundaries of what has been seen in the region before.”
The sister property in Monaco, Elsa restaurant, prides itself on being one of the world’s few 100% organic restaurants and Chef Gleeson is also hard at work setting up an organic garden in order to introduce more locally grown organic produce to the menu. But how healthy is his fridge at home?
In my fridge
* Vegetables – lots of these mainly for juicing such as beetroot, carrots, peppers, ginger and so on.
* Kerrygold butter – I love real Irish butter and I’ve been using Kerrygold all my career in a kitchen so I was so happy when I came across it in the freezer at Spinneys!
* Skimmed milk
* Fresh herbs
* Dark chocolate
* Severn & Wye smoked salmon – I could live on smoked salmon and always have capers, onions, butter and brown bread at home for a snack.
* Colman’s Mustard
* Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
* Jerk spices
Gavin’s top tips
* Store your mushrooms in brown paper bags rather than in plastic containers. This is because mushrooms actually keep growing once picked so keeping them in the dark in the brown paper bag slows down the fungi’s metabolic rate.
* I also learned many years ago to store my apples with my potatoes in order to stop the potatoes growing eyes. This is due to the ethylene gas produced by apples which prevents the potatoes from ripening!
* One very simple piece of advice everyone can live by is to always take a picture of their fridge before heading out shopping. That way you really will know what is in the back of your fridge when out at the shops!
* I’m currently on a bit of a health drive and have been buying lots of fruit and vegetables, which can really add up. In order to cut costs, I’d recommend shopping around when buying your groceries – both Lulu and Carrefour stock an excellent selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, at prices that won’t hurt your wallet. For meat and fish I would still recommend spending a little more at either Waitrose or Spinneys, that way you will guarantee a real quality fresh product and the difference in taste will be phenomenal. You can also choose to support the local producers by buying your fruit and vegetable, fish and meat at the local market.