‘I’m careful, with the odd splurge!’
What did your mother make you?
Dinners at home were hearty Irish cooking. My mother is an experimental baker; nothing is measured.
What was your defining food experience?
My Home Ec teacher rolled her eyes at me when I told her my fish was frozen — I was not the most organised! Left to my own devices, I ‘defrosted’ it under the hot tap, and my Russian fish pie was lovely.
What’s the first dish you ever cooked?
Making Italian meatballs in primary school. Looking back, it was quite progressive for a school to do proper cooking at that stage in education.
What is your comfort food?
Really good chocolate ice cream.
What is your hangover cure?
What do you drink?
White wine or lager beer — or Champagne, if it’s going.
If you could only eat three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Steak; roast potatoes; and chocolate.
What’s your favourite restaurant in Ireland?
I’ve only been once, but Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud was an incredible experience. Abroad? The magnificent, balmy terrace at Terrazza Bosquet at Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento, Italy.
What do you refuse to eat?
Squid. I’ve never tried it. It sounds squelchy, and I don’t like a rubbery texture, which it probably isn’t, but I don’t think I’ll ever know.
What is your guilty pleasure?
A cold leftover roast potato, straight from the fridge, with salt.
What’s your signature dish?
In college, it used to be a mince Bolognese, made with packet tomato soup and mashed potatoes! Now, it’s red massaman chicken, as it’s a crowd pleaser.
Are you careful about what you eat?
Generally, yes, with the odd splurge. I watch my portion size on carbs and load up on veg — and I try to limit buying crisps, because once they’re open, I will eat all of them.
How important is food to you?
Tremendously. As part of a large family and having a large family myself, for me, it’s more about the shared mealtimes than the food itself. We celebrate with food, and it brings us together. Sheila Kiely is the author of Gimme the Recipe and, more recently, Enjoy!, published by Mercier Press and available in all good bookshops. See gimmetherecipe.com In conversation with Sophie White. Photo by Marta Miklinska