What’s Cookin' with Donal Skehan

By Mary Dennehy

DESPITE rushing through Dublin airport on a blustery morning this week, Donal Skehan remained his affable, friendly and down-to-earth self as he spoke to The Echo about his anticipated move to LA.

Donal Skehan has went from food blogger to international kitchen hero in the space of five years - with his simple, realistic and mouth-watering recipes achievable for even the most primitive of cooks.

Donal’s straightforward way of thinking about food is refreshing, with his new book Fresh and RTE TV series, Cook, Eat, Burn focusing on healthy food that will sustain and energise bodies both mentally and physically, without compromising on taste and from ingredients that stocked in the average cupboard.

Not only is Donal creating a solid fan-base with members of the public, but top chefs like Jamie Oliver have also thrown their weight behind the Dublin lad, whose new cook book Fresh has been shortlisted in the Irish Cook Book of the Year competition.

Despite running to catch a flight to London, Donal took five to speak with The Echo.

LIFE Donal Skehan 1

You’re career has really taking off in the past two years, what do you think your selling point is? 

I think that the fact I’m not a chef, I’m a home cook. I make recipes that people can cook and want to cook. The trick is to make food you want to eat, food can be tasty, healthy and simple all at the same time. To be honest, most of the time I find [my career] hard to believe, it’s all pretty surreal.

If you had to pick one dish that defined you, what would it be?

That’s a hard one. I cook a lot of Asian food. I like the how fresh and quick Thai food is, so maybe my dish would be Pad Thai? I also love traditional Irish food, there’s a great sense of comfort to it. Maybe I’d be a combination of the two. I find that I cook different things on different days depending on how I feel, I think a lot of people are like that. 

What’s your kitchen always stocked with? 

I always have olive oil, salt, vinegar and other staplings in my cupboard and wholegrains and dried ingredients like pasta and rice. I try to have a good selection of fruit and vegetable and if you have these and some staples and dried products in your cupboard, you’ll always be able to put a meal together.

What’s your essential kitchen utensil? 

It’s a pair of wooden spoons, like salad spoons, that I use for everything. They’re an extension of my hands!

LIFE Donal Skehan Fresh

Writing your new book and making your TV show Cook, Eat, Burn for RTE, were you shocked about anything you learned about how we as Irish eat? 

Definitely, I learned a few things. One of the biggest flaws we have is a disconnect with food and how we feel after eating. We need food for fuel and last year I found out how important eating the right food is. I was really busy and not making the time to cook and eat properly.
I wasn’t looking after myself and I went through a process of having to figure out what I needed to give my body to keep going. I had to reassess my choices and make sure that I ate right so that I could sustain myself.

What is healthy eating to you? 

It’s simply all about balance and eating well, and my new book has some delicious recipes that will make you forget you are eating healthy!

What’s the thinking behind your new book, Fresh? 

It’s all the recipes that I go back too when I feel run down, they’re my reset button. We all have bad days and if I’ve had a few drinks or particularly busy week and I need to feed my body, these are the tasty recipes I turn to.

What’s one of your favourite healthy recipes out of the book? 

I’m obsessed with my mega beetroot burgers, they’re my go-to-recipe when I need something healthy, tasty and filling.

What’s the plan for Christmas? 

We’re heading over to Sweden, where my wife Sophie is from, for Christmas and we’ll just take it handy. We’re moving to LA in the New Year, there’s a few opportunities over there, so we’re going to see how it goes. 

Follow Donal on Facebook or www.donalskehan.com

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