#CocoKitchen : Interview with Conor Toomey

The Isle of Eriska is delighted to announce the appointment of Conor Toomey as Head Chef. Conor will commence in his new role on the 17th July.

Toomey, originally from South Africa, will be joining the island from Amberley Castle where he was Head Chef. Conor has previously worked as Michael Wignalls’ Sous Chef at the Latymer Restaurant which held two Michelin Stars and as Head Chef at Storrs Hall and Amberley Castle where he achieved 3 AA Rosettes.

Conor said of his new role ‘I am thrilled to work in a hotel with such an outstanding reputation for its food and the opportunity to use fresh island produce. Foraging will continue to be a big part of what we do as well as using the kitchen gardens and greenhouses to create seasonal dishes. I look forward to continuing where Paul left off.’

He chats to us here at House of Coco and tells us more…

Tell us a bit about yourself and how/why you became a chef…
Having grown up around the industry, food has always been a passion in my family, I suppose cooking was almost inevitable. I love the constant learning curve and the people in the industry

What excites you about the new challenge at the Isle of Eriska?
Being a more remote location you have a fantastic opportunity to be creative with the local larder, allowing for great creativity

What is your aim for your time at Eriska?
I think  to continue pushing the food and product further, there is such a great history in the place for both food and service, so to push that forward is a great opportunity.

Do you have any plans for moving the dining experience at Eriska forward?
I think the dining experience is quite well established, I will definitely bring my personality to the restaurant.

With the extensive facilities providing produce for the larder what is your favourite part of the kitchen garden facilities?
That’s quite tough, I love the whole larder both wild and cultivated, the chance to grow what we want and pick it what we want is awesome.

Are you keen to implement foraging as part of your menu?
Definitely,  only a fool wouldn’t. It is incredible

Do you bring a flavour of your South African heritage to your cooking?
No I don’t think so much as in typical flavour, I think maybe the openness to different styles and cuisines perhaps, as South Africa is a melting pot of cultures and flavours.

How do you plan to use the on-site smokehouse?
Definitely the salmon, wow, we pick it up 10 minutes from here and it tastes incredible, oils are good. Just a fantastic tool to have

What is it that makes a dish special?
Memory I think, smell and taste are as strong as anything to create memorys or recall memories, if you can make some think… that reminds me of..? Or if it inspires a memory, you always remember a good meal, so I suppose finding that.

What is your favourite dish and ingredient at the moment?
Tough one, always mushrooms on that list they are so versatile and then I suppose game.. fish, so hard I love good products. Everything of a good quality excites me.

What is your favourite part of the island?
I don’t know yet, so much to explore

Book a table with Conor and sample his delightful dishes www.eriska-hotel.co.uk

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