JP McMahon is a chef, restaurateur and author. He is culinary director of the EatGalway Restaurant Group, which comprises of Michelin-starred Aniar Restaurant, award-winning Spanish restaurant Cava Bodega, and Tartare Café & Wine Bar (Bib Gourmand). He also runs the Aniar Boutique Cookery School. JP is committed to the educational and ethical aspects of food, to buying and supporting the best of local and free-range produce and engaging directly with farmers and producers. He is the founder and plays host to one of the biggest and most talked about international food events in Europe, Food on the Edge. The highly successful inaugural event took place in Galway in October 2015 followed by equally acclaimed 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The event features the best of international chefs from across the globe. Director, founding and current chair of the Galway Food Festival, JP is an ambassador for Irish food.
He is also an ambassador for Spanish food in Ireland in particular promoting the wines of Rías Baixas (Galicia) and Jerez. JP is currently a commissioner for Euro-Toques Ireland. He is the Published author and writer of ‘Tapas, A Taste of Spain in Ireland’ and ‘The Irish Cookbook’ (Phaidon 2020). He is a food writer and has a weekly column in the Irish Times on Saturday. The multi talented JP McMahon is a regular contributor to Radio One and Newstalk radio and has a monthly slot on RTE TV; he was twice the winning mentor for the RTE Series Taste of Success.
Which is your favourite ingredient?
Seaweed, because of the connection to the west of Ireland, it’s potential as an ingredient, various uses and I feel it need to be championed as it is an unsung hero of Irish food.
What is your advice to aspiring chefs?
I would say seek out places you like to eat and try and work in them, many restaurants have apprentice / stage programmes – depending on the style you would like to develop.
What’s your comfort food and which is your favorite restaurant to dine at?
Spaghetti Bolognese is my comfort food. I have many favorite restaurants, it’s an ever changing list but currently would include Amass in Copenhagen, in Dublin Uno Mass and Pizza at the Twelve, Barna, Galway.
I am working on a Food on the Edge book this year and thinking about a quarterly Magazine. We plan to re open Aniar on March 31st 2021 and following the success of The Irish Cook Book I am working on the provisionally titled ‘The Irish Fish Book’
Who is your inspiration?
I am inspired by the many producers and chefs I have worked with, and hope that together we can leave our food system better than we found it.
Which is/are your signature dish/dishes?
Dooncastle oyster, sea lettuce, trout roe, Dexter Beef tartare, smoked egg, peppered dilsk
What is the philosophy and ethos behind the food you cook?
Of course it’s about local but it’s also about developing lasting relationships with suppliers so that we grow together and work towards improving the food system.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
I m most proud of one of our Aniar signature dishes that brings together the produce of the west, from the Atlantic coast which are oysters and seaweed. This dish is charred oyster, oyster emulsion, seaweed, sea herbs, seaweed jelly.
How has the current pandemic affected your work?
This time has made us rethink everything; things we thought were impossible have proved not to be so. Online cooking classes have proved a life line for Anair and as I write we may be about to be locked down again and forced to move to only takeaway meals.
What is the one food trend you wish would go away?
According to me it would be if ‘sustainability’ is not seen as a trend and marketing tool and rather it should be ingrained as the norm and a given.
When all the restaurants reopen, what is the first restaurant you’ll be heading to and what will you order?
Amass in Copenhagen; I will order fried chicken and fermented potato bread.
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?
The menu is always produce driven; we develop the menu based on seasonality and what our producers have available.
What is your favourite dish to cook at home?
My favourite dish to cook at home is Roast Leg of Lamb with seaweed and herbs.