Hector visited us in the Hodson Bay Hotel and chatted with Executive Head Chef, Gavin O’Rourke about how our hotels’ source local Irish food and what this means to you when you eat in our hotels.
In recent years, Irish television personality and radio presenter on Today FM’s Sunday Sitting room, Hector Ó hEochagáin has become a voice in Irish media for supporting local Irish retailers, food producers and events. He also has always been a strong advocate for the ‘cupla focail’ with a deep love and respect for Irishness. His love and respect are evident from his online presence, both the radio and numerous TV shows he presented for TG4 and RTE.
We the Irish and our Irish Local Food
Since the beginning of his career, this Navan native has given us great glimpses of what it is to be Irish and proud. And in recent years, Hector has been working to promote people’s health and wellbeing. He believes in improving mental and physical health through the food we eat and keeping active.
In 2015, he opened his gym, The Body Works, based in the Briarhill Business Park, Galway. And in 2016, he was the ambassador for ‘The Irish Times Pfizer Healthy Town’ where his hometown of Navan, Co. Meath was the winner.
Good Food for Families, Good Food for Everyone
So, how can you guarantee healthy food that has been sourced properly? The answer is when the chef has an appreciation of food; its sourcing and its journey to your plate. Chef Gavin has an immense love of food and fond memories of his childhood of veggie gardens, orchards and beehives in Killybegs.
“I remember growing up as a kid, up in the back garden helping my father. I could be digging ridges, doing the weeding or planting. We grew everything from onions, spring onions (or scallions as we call them in Donegal) carrots, turnips, a few different cabbages, beetroot and a few different lettuces. And you could be sure of few bunches of rhubarb along the neighbour’s hedge. You might have to pull back the briars an odd time to get at them. Incidentally, the same neighbours had a bit of an orchard going on with some nice apples, a few pear trees and delicious blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes. There was no shortage of volunteers to help with the picking. Oh, and the strawberry beds, up in the corner where they thought nobody would see them. There was also a couple of beehives which, naturally were out of bounds.”
A Life of Home-grown, Homemade and Home Cooked Food
Gavin goes on to tell about his mother baking and the feasts they would have from all the homegrown produce. He has brought both his mother’s love for food and his ability to create amazing feasts across all our hotels.
“Our front garden was dedicated to the potatoes which were precious and were scrutinised every morning & evening to check on their progress or any elements of destruction.
My mother loved baking, so most days there was a good chance we would have fresh Brown & White Sodas, a few scones or maybe a nice rhubarb or apple tart, you needed to be quick though cause in a house with seven kids they never lasted long.”
Gavin is extremely proud of his knowledge of food and his passion for real ingredients and the more local the better.
“You can imagine the feasts we had on a nice summers evening, the breads, rhubarb & ginger, strawberry, blackcurrant and gooseberry jams, honey, fresh boiled eggs, new potatoes, fresh lettuces, beets, homemade coleslaw, a few tomatoes and scallions, all laid out on the table beside the kitchen which was filled with the aroma of a freshly baked tart, covered with sugar cooling in the corner.”
Fuelling up on Your Holidays
What we put into our bodies is essential. After all, you wouldn’t put that wrong fuel in your car and expect to get where you want to go. The same goes for your food. As an Irish Family run Group of Irish hotels, we stand proud of how we have remained true to our beliefs and our roots around sourcing of local Irish ingredients.
Our staff hold that same respect. And Executive Head Chef, Gavin has created a strong emphasis on creating dishes that reflect our Irishness. We want those who we stay in our hotels to know we care about what you fuel up on. Our chefs understand and respect food sourcing. And our ingredients are traceable, healthy and quality assured.
“We are blessed here in the Midlands with fantastic family-owned businesses that help us provide great dishes for our guests. I feel I’ve only scratched the surface. I will continue to seek out the very best products, local and beyond. We Irish have a fantastic tradition of growing our own. We are proud of how we get the very best from the land and indeed the sea. That’s the type of the suppliers that we at the Hodson Bay Group are so proud to support.”
Love Your Stay, Love Your Food
We are Irish, local and proud and we love for you to know, feel and see our passion when you visit any of our hotels. So, celebrate your Irishness or learn what it means to be Irish here in the heart of Ireland. Escape into a great pint and savour our local Irish food.
“Ithe, ól agus ceol go maidin” (Eat, drink and be merry)