Kevin Dundon brings world class Irish food to U.S. TV screens


More than anything, Dundon wants to tempt you away from the highly processed supermarket food that has created an obesity epidemic worldwide.

“We used to always eat in season in Ireland,” he explains. “When you think about it that means you’re eating the right type of food at the right time of year.

“During the summer you’re eating a lot of fruit, a lot of vegetables and a lot of fish because the weather is lighter and warmer. During the winter you’re eating root vegetables, braised foods and stews because you’re body needs those extra slow released carbs. If you eat in season you’ll find there’s far less obesity.”

In Ireland, where he’s already a household name, people tell Dundon all the time they love his recipes because they work and they don’t have to go to any specialist stores to find the ingredients to cook them.

“You can get them from your local corner store. I do that purposely, because I want to get people cooking again,” he says.

His Irish themed restaurant Raglan Road opened in downtown Disney World in 2003 and was another instant hit.

“It’s my food philosophy, it’s Modern Irish Food in a restaurant. We are getting the highest scores for food in Disney. You can have a two-hour wait on the door to get in. It’s a real piece of Ireland in America.”

Dundon’s cooking for world leaders has even seen him cook for Queen Elizabeth. He laughs at the unlikeliness of it.

“It was the most bizarre situation. I was working in Canada and she had arrived for a horse show in Calgary. I was asked to cook for her. She had a taster. I cooked, he tasted it, and then it went up to her.”

Being Irish, were they afraid he might poison her?

“I think it was a security thing they always do. It wasn’t because I was Irish,” he laughs.

“She ordered salmon on an oak plank as a starter and she then she had rack of lamb well done. I think she wanted a steamed pudding. In fairness to her she was very nice when I went up to see her after.”

Then, at a NATO meeting in Canada one of Dundon’s guests included President George W. Bush.

“I found that experience frustrating because security prevented me from walking around the way I was used to. We were under a general lockdown the whole time,” he recalls.

Chefs are famous for being exacting, which can result in spectacular temper tantrums, but Dundon says he keeps his in check these days.

“When I was 21 and 22 I used to get a bit hot. I once fired my pastry chef because she did something wrong. It took me six months to replace her, which meant I was making them myself for six months,” he says.

“I learned my lesson fast. I’m totally mellowed out now.”

Modern Irish Food starts on PBS on Sunday, October 27.