Last month my husband Gilmar and I stayed at MacNean House & Restaurant for our wedding anniversary. During our visit we got a chance to chat to one of Ireland's most loved chefs Neven Maguire.
Neven recently opened his own cookery school beside MacNean House & Restaurant in Blacklion. He teaches all the cooking classes himself and the class sizes are kept small. The kitchen is modern and stylish with Miele appliances and hand painted units. The Chef's Table concept also takes place in the cookery school with the opportunity for a group to watch Neven and his team cook and serve dinner in a private and homely surrounding.
Neven is a doting father to his 2 year old twins, Connor and Lucia. He believes one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for food as his love of cooking came from his mother. I asked Neven about family home-cooking and he explained that he cooks simple food with his family. Both Neven and his wife Amelda are passionate about this topic and are ambassadors for "The First 1,000 Days" which covers nutrition and food during pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning and toddler's stage.
I spoke about family life to Neven and he talked about how a work-life balance is important to him. He has made a conscious effort to have a controlled work-life balance so he can spend quality time with his family. In his free time he loves to cycle along The Greenway in Westport and some of his favourite places to visit are Kelly's in Rosslare and Newcastle in Co. Down.
Neven's busy schedule includes working at MacNean House & Restaurant, giving public demos across the country, teaching at his cookery school, writing cookbooks and working on different TV projects. He said that he loves the variety and different aspects of his work including meeting customers at MacNean House & Restaurant, teaching in the cookery school, his TV appearances and of course always having the opportunity to talk about food.
While I was chatting to Neven I had to ask him about Japanese food. I was delighted to hear he visited Japan with Bord Bia a few years ago and is eager to return with his family to learn more about Japan, its food and culture. Neven believes in the concept of always trying to better yourself which is a well-known principle in Japanese culture called "kaizen". Two of the core principles of Japanese cooking are seasonality and regionality and this is something that Neven is very passionate about.
Neven's eleventh cookbook is due to be released and I can't wait to get a copy to try some of his new recipes.
We really enjoyed our stay at MacNean House and Restaurant. The accommodation is modern yet cosy and homely. The set dinner menu is a work of art using only the best quality and locally sourced ingredients. Each course is prepared with the utmost care and attention giving each person a truly unique dining experience. We both thought the breakfast was one of the best we've had to date. On a final note I have to mention Neven's team who make everyone feel welcome and well attended to throughout their stay.
To see more about MacNean House & Restaurant go to http://www.macneanrestaurant.com/