Donal Crosbie is an award-winning, world-travelled chef whose first food-related job began at when he landed a job at the age of 14 at his local Dublin eatery. He was already developing his culinary passion well before that though, cooking and baking with his mom in their family home. Today, Donal is the proud Chef and partner of three restaurants in New York City – Hudson Hound Restaurant & Bar, The Bailey Pub & Brasserie and Trinity Place Bar & Restaurant.
Teeling Whiskey partnered with Donal for a tasting experience at The Trinity Place Bar & Restaurant – a place with a rich history all its own – where he curated a menu inspired by the premium ingredients and flavours of Ireland, as well as our own Trinity line-up of Teeling Whiskeys.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with Donal for a few minutes to hear about his experiences and how he approached thinking about the menu for the event. Here are a few high lights from our conversation!
What does modern Irish cuisine mean to you?
I grew up in the 80s and early 90s in Ireland when economically, it was really tough so a lot of of chefs and Irish people from my generation left. A lot of us went abroad and settled all over the world – chefs especially – to England, the States, Australia, Germany, wherever – and then came back to Ireland and brought all of it back. So, Irish cuisine was booming. People learned all these new techniques and new products, and have incorporated that into their idea of Irish cuisines or Irish taste.
What might surprise people to learn about Irish cuisine?
Irish cuisine did have a negative connotation for a long time – you know overcooked or bland, but what we have is some of the best ingredients in the world. We just weren’t treating them properly, traditionally. We have the best lamb in the world, the best lobster in the world, the best oysters in the world, and we just didn’t eat it. We shipped everything to France. The French go mad for our lobsters and oysters. Even potatoes – I know it’s a cliché but we have the best potatoes in the world. So, what I wanted to do was use these great Irish products, but treat them with respect because we had been taught how to do that in other kitchens.
Where have you lived that’s influenced your culinary approach?
I lived in Germany and Australia before I came to The States, and I worked with different chefs from all over the world with different techniques. I’ve worked in fine dining and mission style restaurants, but when I opened my own restaurant I wanted to do something a little more casual, but also good food that incorporates what I’ve learned while using Irish techniques. And then when we have a thing like Teeling – a great Irish product, I love it. I love to work with that.
When you were thinking about when you approached the Teeling menu?
I got to taste the flavour profiles from the guys, so I worked it that way. Vanilla, for instance – with the cured salmon, I used fresh vanilla in the curing process. It brings out that flavour, accentuates it a little bit. Or, in the barrels, there’s red wine so I used a red wine sauce. There was whiskey used, but not in every dish. You want to complement the whiskey instead of overpowering it.
In some dishes it works more than others. I didn’t use any whiskey in the entrees. I used it in the appetisers and the desserts because I think that’s where it’s suited better. But I used the tasting notes throughout.
All in all, the event was a smash. Kevin Hurley, our global ambassador, walked everyone through the history of Irish whiskey as they savoured the flavours, aromas and camaraderie around the table – a different kind of trinity all its own.
Here’s a closer look at the full menu from the night’s event.