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Eleanor Walsh

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“I'm always striving for the last 10% to make it special”.
When Eleanor Walsh explains her modus operandi to you, in these precise terms, then you understand why she is such an iconic figure in the world of Irish food.
These days she exercises her push for the last 10% as a hospitality consultant, which means she operates largely out of the public radar. But for many food lovers, Ms Walsh is synonymous with one of the great restaurants of Dublin, of Temple Bar, and of the 1990's, for she was the person who cooked in Eden, in the days when the restaurant operated as a benchmark for modern Irish food.
Eden was part of a mighty Temple Bar revolution, along with Liz Mee and John Hayes' work in the Elephant & Castle, Ben Gorman and Mark Harrell's work in The Mermaid Café, Michael Martin's elegant food in The Tea Rooms at The Clarence Hotel, Carole Walsh's work in The Chameleon and the punky food of Trevor Browne and Gerard Foote in the original Dish, on Crow Street.
More than fifteen years later, and it can be difficult to explain to people just how exciting this talented bunch made eating in Dublin. Suddenly, the city seemed to have some money in its pocket, and the city wanted to spend that money on Eleanor Walsh's haddock smokies, her kassler with red cabbage, the organic sirloin with bearnaise. Back in 1999 we wrote that “Walsh works best when she cooks soul food: lamb's liver with celeriac purée; duck confit with caramelised shallots; smokies with a smoked haddock creme fraiche; great desserts such as mint soufflé. With these, there is no knife-edge, just cutting edge deliciousness.”
That deliciousness is Ms Walsh's trademark style, along with a fundamental simplicity, and the ability to see the glory in a piece of lamb's liver, or an apple mash, or a port gravy for slow-cooked shank of lamb. Her food was always about taking stuff off the plate, the better to focus on the essential things that she wanted you to focus on – the barley with the braised lamb; the hake with black olives; that mint in the soufflé. She still sees things in a calm and logical way, the way a Kerry woman from Dingle would, as she works to fix places, improve places, inspire places. Everything she does is striving for that last 10%: 110% is just fine for Eleanor Walsh.

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