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Mike O'Donnell

In the Kitchen with… Mike O’Donnell

The Head Chef at Ilsington Country House Hotel on Dartmoor shares his thoughts with Taste Buds

How long has your restaurant been running?
I have been Head Chef here since 1997 and the restaurant has held 2 AA rosettes from 2003 onwards. More recently we have opened the Blue Tiger Inn for bistro-style dining.

What is your inspiration?
Using fresh, local produce and making the most of what our region has to offer. Our menu changes regularly to reflect the best-quality produce available at different seasons.

Sum up your cooking style in three words.
Clean, modern, local.

Must-try dish on your menu?
From our tasting menu, I’d recommend the new season’s lamb with wild garlic, dauphine potato, tenderstem, turnip and a chilli and red pepper gel.

Local produce to eat now.
Samphire grass and mackerel. Our mackerel is line caught from Torquay and exceptionally flavoursome.

Do you prefer to eat in or out?
I prefer to eat in with the family, who unfortunately I don’t see enough of because of my work!

A chef you’d love to meet?
On a national level it would have to be Tom Kitchin.

Top tip for budding chefs?
Be passionate about your work, keep focused and above all listen!

Favourite kitchen gadget?
The smoker for our Rationale oven. At Ilsington we smoke all our own meat and fish.

Favourite foodie/dinner party joke?
‘Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing.’ That’s the only clean joke my chefs know!

Any special events/menus taking place during May and June?
We have a tasting menu on offer every Friday and Saturday night. To celebrate Devon Restaurant month during June we will have a special Best of Devon Menu available on weekday lunchtimes; it will include River Teign mussels, Creedy Carver duck, local samphire, and ingredients from the hotel’s own garden.

Islington Country House Hotel
Ilsington Village Newton Abbot
Devon TQ13 9RR
01364 661452

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