Top Celeb Chefs Share Their Weirdest Eats…
Reindeer testicles, loin of puppy, snakes eyes and cat liver. While they might sound like the ingredients you would toss into the witches cauldron this Halloween – for top UK celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall it’s just another day in the kitchen. As the indignant cries of animal lovers echoed around the country, River Cottage star Hugh also calmly confessed to having eaten placenta pate, curried fruit bat, giraffe and calf testicles. If that wasn’t enough, when the chef was asked whether he would try loin of Labrador or cat liver, he told the Radio Times: “In principle, but not in practice, I have no objection to a high-welfare organic puppy farm.” With this in mind we asked some of Ireland top celebrity chefs for the weirdest thing they have ever dined on. The replies should surprise and delight.
Rachel Allen, TV Chef, Cook and Author. “I’ve eaten lambs testicles, snakes eyes, crocodile… I’ve never eaten dog and I don’t intend to. In one tiny sense you can see where Hugh is coming from, as they’ve been domesticated for 15,000 years, but psychologically I wouldn’t be able to eat dog. I ate a scorpion as well, it was a dry scorpion – it was a bit crunchy!”
Rachel’s new book Easy Meals which contains 180 family friendly recipes for any night of the week is on sale now, recommended price €25.00, for more info see rachelallen.co.uk.
Catherine Fulvio, TV Chef, Cookery School proprietor, food writer and cookery tutor – runs Ballyknocken Cookery School. “By far the strangest thing that landed in my mouth was a screw. I was in one of the Asian restaurants in Dublin a few years ago and I had a stir fry and the screw from the wok ended up on my plate! I couldn’t believe it, I was thinking – ‘I know I asked for al dente vegetables but this is way too al dente for me!’ In Sicily, I ate live sea urchins – it’s called Ricci, which sounds very sexy but it isn’t. They chop off the heads and they’re still squirming on the plate. It tastes like fois gras. I find it disconcerting to eat something live. The business I’m in I have to be adventurous but I have the heebie jeebies at the thought of it to be honest!”
Catherine’s new book Catherines Family Kitchen is on sale now, price €22.95. For more information please see catherinefulvio.com.
Nick Munier, best known as the maitre d’ of ITV’s prime-time reality show Hell’s Kitchen. Co-owner of Pichet restaurant in Dublin’s Trinity Lane. Presenter of Masterchef Ireland, alongside Dylan McGrath. “You know when you’re a young person and you’re given these things to eat and you’re not really sure what they are? Well, when I was eight my grandparents cooked me lamb brains, and my dad said it was a monkey brains. It was sautéed with sauce cravache. I had to down it with loads of coca cola. I’ve also eaten lambs heart, which is good for hangovers. I wouldn’t agree with eating puppies. It’s okay if it was the Second World War and you had nothing else to eat, but puppies, no. It depends on where you eat in the world. The thought of eating a puppy or a squirrel or a brain doesn’t excite me.”
Dylan McGrath, award winning chef and presenter of Masterchef Ireland alongside Nick Munier. “Crocodile. Many years ago a chef I was working with was cooking it for a competition. It had a fishy chicken kind of a texture. It was horrible. I’ve never eaten puppies, and I don’t think I would!”
Oliver Dunne, head chef and owner of the Michelin starred restaurant Bon Appetit in Malahide, County Dublin. “I’ve travelled through Africa so I’ve eaten nearly every African animal you can think of, everything from wildebeest to antelopes and crocodiles. Most of it was very tough. I’ve also eaten horse in Valencia. Of all the strange animals, warthog was probably the nicest. Elephant wasn’t that nice at all – it was a big lump of a meat! Over here in Ireland I’ve had pig’s ears, sea cucumbers, lambs testicles and cocks-comb. Cocks-comb has got a texture that is very unusual – it’s like eating coral. But I would eat anything as I think animals are animals. Saying you’re eating dog is not as bad as saying you’re eating puppy – because a puppy is far more cute! If I was in a country that served dog, I’d taste it, absolutely.”
Your chance to be a critic at Michelin Star Bon Appetit restaurant, Malahide, Dublin in the last two weeks of October starting Wed 19th. Get a six course menu for €40 and fill out a questionnaire post dining experience. For more info see www.bonappetit.ie
Ross Lewis is an Irish Michelin star winning head chef and co-owner of the restaurant Chapter One. “Humble pie! No really, I’ve eaten dog – tinned dog from China. It tasted good, like corned beef. I’ve also eaten donkey. I think in context there are countries that eat dog, it depends on the backdrop – if the backdrop is you’re not meant to then you won’t. When you’re a chef you basically spend your life chopping protein, cooking it and eating it. I personally don’t see the difference between dog, cat, rabbit, chicken, lamb… some are fed for eating some are fed as pets. If you’re going to eat rabbit, why can’t we eat dog? I don’t see any difference…”
Derry Clarke, Irish celebrity chef, reality television judge and proprietor of the restaurant L’Ecrivain. “I was up in Norway a few years ago and I ate Reindeer testicles. But it was after Christmas, so after their job was done! I was with my mother in law, my darling wife and my two kids. My mother in law looked at me funny afterwards! They weren’t delicious or spectacular and I was queasy about it, but I ate them, then drank a whole bottle of red wine to drown out the taste because they tasted disgusting! I’ve also eaten sheep’s brain and lungs and the whole liver of a cod. I couldn’t eat dog, cat or horse – to me they’re too close to us.”
Patrick Guilbaud, French professional chef residing in Ireland and the proprietor of that country’s most award winning restaurant, the Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. “For me it was a bear, from Russia. It tastes like beef, like venison really. I don’t eat cats or puppies – that’s not a good idea!”
On Saturday October 22nd, Patrick Guilbaud will visit Dundrum Town Centre, signing copies of his book ‘Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud – the First Thirty Years’ exclusive to House of Fraser. All proceeds of this book will go to the Irish Hospice Foundation.