• Cyril McAree

Chef Eric Kavanagh - Changing With The Seasons With Gorgeous Cahernane House Hotel Menu

It was obvious to Eric Kavanagh that he had a flair for cooking from a very early age. Growing up in Douglas, County Cork, Eric honed his skills from the time he first looked over a pan. Somewhat unusually, the first dish that Eric ever cooked was a crepe when he was just six or seven years old. “I had a sweet tooth and I just wanted something, so I made it – it’s as simple as that,” smiles Eric, and so his journey into the world of cooking began. His father, Sean, is also a qualified chef, so Eric’s passion for cooking was always encouraged.

Eric’s main body of work before he arrived at Cahernane House Hotel was over two spells in Longueville House in Mallow, County Cork, where he continued to develop his craft following time with Marlfield House in Gorey and Sheen Falls in Kenmare.

Eric also spent some time abroad in Canada and New Zealand as he broadened his cooking horizons through travelling, particularly in the latter country as he worked as a temp chef in numerous different restaurants that were infused with a French influence.

Those different styles have been blended to conjure up the wonderful dishes at the Herbert Restaurant in Cahernane House Hotel, where Eric has been the head chef since June 2017.

The Two AA Rosette winning restaurant serves up some of the finest cuisine in the southwest, producing a vast array of dishes that are sweet to all the senses. The key ingredient behind any good meal is the timing however, and Eric is keen to point out that he bases his menu and technique on what time of the year it is.“It’s a seasonal thing,” he said. “You want to make the food so it’s good, but that it also shows technique and it’s not over the top and there for the sake of it. You see what’s around, what is in season, and you put it together and you make sure that there is some sense of technique to it to. From there you test it, and if it works you use it, if it doesn’t work you keep adjusting it until you’re happy with it really.”

So as the summer season approaches, and the temperatures begin to rise, what kind of dishes can we expect to be emerging from the kitchen of the Herbert Restaurant? One thing that will certainly be on the menu is Dover Sole fish, a mild and sweet seafood that is considered a delicacy throughout Europe.“We cook it sous vide and then we finish it in brown butter after that,” explains Eric as he gives an insight into the technique behind cooking such a dish.

“You’re taking it off the bone and you’re doing it that way, and because of the fact that you’re cooking it in a water bath like that the proteins come out of the fish and the two fillets stay together. From the presentation point of view, it stays together like that.”It is just one option on a menu that will change frequently throughout the year to suit the ever-changing seasons, but the same supreme standard of food will remain consistent due to the staff at Cahernane House Hotel.

The Herbert Restaurant is just one of the many aspects of Cahernane House Hotel that makes it an amorous destination for any type of break. The stunning manor house steeped in history was originally built in 1877, and it was restored to all of its original grandeur by the PREM Group in 2016 after the hotelier took over the running of the property. The stunning residence is set on 6.4 acres on the edge of the Killarney National Park and lakes.

The 40-bedroom hotel features some eye-catching antiques that date back more than two centuries, but the very modern benefits provided by the €6.5 million investment from the PREM Group are also evident throughout.

“I think they’ve done a terrific job with the improvement works here in Cahernane, and now that they are all finished I can’t wait to see more and more people coming through the door and enjoying the food we serve here,” said Eric of the renovations.

“I’ve been blessed with a really good team of colleagues that work well together in the kitchen and throughout the rest of the hotel, so I’m sure we will continue to go from strength to strength in the coming months.”

For more information on Cahernane House Hotel or to make a booking see www.cahernane.com or call (064) 663 1895.

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