Chef's Choice: Kathy Bennett of 227 Restaurant – if food is not going to taste good, why bother?
Chefs share recipes and a soupçon about themselves. This week: Kathy Bennett
Where do you work?
227 Restaurant, 93a Cregagh Road, Belfast. I'm the chief, cook and bottle washer.
Are you calm in the kitchen?
Yes, without calm chaos ensues and that is not conducive to a happy workplace.
When did you start cooking?
I must have been seven or eight making pastry dough with my mom, Ruby. I had one of those tiny tart pans and she taught me how to make jam tarts. We were always encouraged to create in the kitchen – sometimes there was success, other times not so much.
What fires you up about food?
Taste. Flavours that work well without being complicated is the ultimate goal for me. If it's not going to taste good why bother?
What’s been cooking lately?
Me – I'm cooking! I'm not a classically trained chef, I've always been front of house. When I started in this business almost 40 years ago, I worked in a place that had a fine dining restaurant on one side and a cafeteria on the other. Some days I was a bussgirl, others front of house and on Sundays I was in the kitchen flipping burgers and making milkshakes. Now with 227 I've come full circle.
Your signature dish is…
Not sure if I have one. I enjoy cooking simple food well. As a Canadian, it's all about the barbecue or chargrill. Keep it simple and don't over do it.
Your favourite thing to eat is…
Like I said, I'm a sucker for a chargrill. A bit of salt and pepper, nice piece of meat – heaven. I do a simple dry rub on tiger prawns on the grill with a butter sauce. Pour a glass of chilled dry riesling and I could eat a bucket of them. Yum!
What chef inspires you most?
My inspiration come from my parents, Ruby and Dave. Between the two of them they travelled the world and luckily for us five kids they brought home their food adventures. Everyone in my family is a foodie.
This week, we are going to make…
Ingredients: 600ml cream; 80g caster sugar; 2 lemons.
Method: Bring the cream and sugar to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Let cool. While it's cooling zest 1 lemon and juice both lemons. Once the cream has cooled add the zest and juice, then pour into 6 ramekins and refrigerate. Chill for 3-4 hours and serve with fresh berries. Enjoy!