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Iain Flynn of McBride & Flynn, Kinsale

Iain Flynn of McBride & Flynn, Kinsale

Through all the great years of the Good Food Circle in Kinsale it had always puzzled us at Fuchsia why the area remained a blank on our maps of food producers. The gourmet capital of Ireland heaved with culinary talent and energy but you wouldn’t find the name Kinsale in your fridge or cupboard. Gladly in the last 2 years this anomaly has really begun to rectify itself and the key catalyst has been the Tuesday farmers market. This week I met with Iain Flynn of McBride and Flynn, an enterprise that draws together the strengths of the town, pairing the culinary flair of chef Paul McBride with Iain’s skills, appetite for work and determination to succeed.

 

 

 

The business started with jams and chutneys, which the pair produced on their days off from Acton’s Hotel where Paul had taken Iain on an as an apprentice. Their plan was to sell from the hotel and a few local shops but then the farmers market opened in 2006 – “We said we’d come down and try it out for a laugh. And we were there on the first day and doing fine with our preserves, but we looked at each other and said we’re both chefs, we’re good at cooking for people let’s do more and use our skills.” So to their stall they added pates, dressings, quiches and meals, like beef stroganoff, chicken a la king, pepper beef and Thai curry. The range changes over time in response to feedback and requests from their customers. “I love the feedback at the market; once you build up a relationship with people they are comfortable being really honest. It’s also great to see people sitting down to enjoy our food, which they can do at the Kinsale and Blackrock markets. When you sell to shops the only feedback you get is how many are on the shelf at the end of the week.”

 

The markets have also been important for Iain in sourcing produce. “We try our utmost to use local produce. I buy most of our vegetables from guys at the markets, they know what’s good and I know where it has come from. It also puts a bit of pressure on me because I want to get the best out of their ingredients and do justice to the work they’ve put into growing them. As chefs we’re part of a chain not the sole creators. We buy our beef from O’Connells at the Lough, they really look after their meat, no shortcuts like electronic tenderizing. It’s hung for 21 days and you can taste and see the difference, when you cook it, it doesn’t shrink to half its size.”

 

Iain is now working full time in the business and Paul McBride comes in on his days off. Iain’s passion for culinary learning and discovery is something he says has rubbed off from Paul, who describes his own involvement at the markets as more enjoyable golf. For Paul to have retained the enthusiasm of the hobbyist after decades in commercial kitchens shows a true calling. With this ethos their business will never be about making a quick buck, a motivation that Iain feels has let down most of the local restaurant scene. Iain also has an intuitive understanding of real food from his home life and is not impressed by showiness. “My mother and sister are great cooks and love cooking at home.” In fact, Iain has persuaded his mother to supply their stall with her brown bread, wonderfully enriched with treacle, eggs and oatmeal.

 

Working alone in food preparation can be a lonely business, starting at 6am and sticking to a demanding schedule. So Iain is looking forward to his chance to do some live cooking at the Eat Sherkin festival on the first weekend in July.

 

“It will be fun, as a chef I haven’t cooked live in a while and I know I’ll get a buzz working beside Diane Curtin, she’s such a bundle of energy. We’ll be cooking mackerel landed in the morning and serving them with salad leaves picked around the island, then someone else is bringing their strawberries which we’ll make into a strawberry fool”. The whole event sounds fantastic, there’s no where quite like Sherkin to generate a festive atmosphere. You can read below what Diane Curtin has sent me about the festival weekend and in the meantime take the opportunity to visit Kinsale farmers market which is a bright light in the project to reinvent Ireland’s gourmet capital.

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