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Book Review by Barbara Collins

Chef Interrupted, by Trevis Gleason; Collins Press Paperback, €12.99.

Chef Interrupted, by Trevis Gleason; Collins Press Paperback, €12.99.

Reviewed by Barbara Collins

Not many people who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis would be able to start a new life for themselves on another continent, but the former American chef Trevis Gleason’s inspiring read Chef Interrupted- Discovering Life’s Second Course in Ireland with Multiple Sclerosis tells the story of how he did just that.

The tone of the book, which won a Best in the World Gourmand Cookbook Award in China last May, is self-effacing and humorous. Trevis’s ancestors left Fermanagh in 1690, but he always knew he had Irish blood. After a trip “home” he fell in love with Dingle and eventually decided to move there with his wife Caryn who he met after that first trip.

They rented a cottage, got two dogs and slowly but surely got the hang of driving on the left, sheep in the garden and understanding the lilting West Kerry accent. Trevis has put down firm roots in The Town. He is an ambassador for the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards. He is also on the organising committee of the Dingle Food Festival.

After the diagnosis in 2001, Trevis didn’t give up on cooking. He could no longer keep up with the hectic pace of a professional kitchen or a demanding teaching schedule, but that doesn’t stop him experimenting with roasting a leg of lamb by the fireplace and regularly entertaining friends with dishes like Steak and Guinness Pie with Colcannon and Sticky Date Pudding. These recipes, and many more of his favourites, are peppered through this book.

Writing is another obvious talent of the man who likes to “tell it like it is” in his popular blog Life With MS. He is on the editorial board of MS Ireland and has been twice-ranked as the No. 1 Online Influence on the topic of MS. This is a story not of survival, but of living life to the full. Trevis’s humour in the face of his changed life is sure to inspire and have you coming back for seconds.

Chef Interrupted is available on the Collins Press website, in all good bookshops and on Amazon.

SAMPLE RECIPE: TREVIS GLEASON’S COLCANNON

Using floury baking potatoes makes for a lovely mash, which then absorbs the cream and butter, and Trevis uses kale instead of cabbage. Eat this with bacon, stew or on its own, it is addictive.

Ingredients

770g/ 1.5 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and quartered

450g/1lb kale (washed and stalks removed, then chopped medium coarse)

150ml/5 fl oz cream

50g/ 2oz butter

1 bunch scallions/spring onions, cleaned and sliced

Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Put the potatoes in a large pot with enough cold, salted water to cover by about 8cm/3 inches.

Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a slight simmer and cook until nearly tender (about 10 minutes)

After about 5 minutes, add the kale to the water and stir, being careful not to break the potatoes.

At that point, take a small pan and add the cream, butter and scallions; season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Do not let this mixture boil.

When the potatoes are tender, drain and shake well. Return the pot to a low heat to dry and place the potatoes and kale in the warm pot for 2 minutes.

Mash the potatoes and kale until there are no potato lumps. Stir in the cream/scallion/butter mixture a bit at a time and fold in with a wooden spoon until at the desired consistency.

Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve.
 

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Barbara CollinsBarbara Collins is a BBC journalist and freelance food, travel and agricultural writer. She contributes regularly to Countryfile magazine, the Farmers Guardian, the Irish News, FFT and the Irish Mail on Sunday. She was Chief Food Writer for Flavour magazine. She is a member of both the UK and Irish Food Writers’ Guilds and splits her time between Belfast and Galway. Barbara also does menu consultancy and copywriting.

@thegoodchinaset
 

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