Lobster Napoleons in minted fresh pea puree, fresh chopped lamb tarts and poached turbot with garden vegetables were all on the menu recently as two Michelin Star Chefs teamed up for one amazing dinner in Ireland.

Chef Sam Moody is the resident chef at Ballyfin, a five star luxury country house hotel in the heart of Ireland, County Laois. He invited fellow Michelin Star Chef Patrick O’Connell from Virginia to join him. Working from the kitchen garden on the property, they created a menu for a night to remember.

“We are both used to working from a garden,” O’Connell says. “It’s a mindset to be able to work from such fresh produce.” O’Connell runs The Inn at Little Washington in Virgina, in the United States. That property is celebrating 40 years in business, and a long and storied history at that. It actually began as a restaurant in an old filling station at the cross roads of Main and Middle Streets in Washington Virginia, in 1978. It has grown to an award-winning restaurant and luxury escape at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And as part of the year-long celebration of it’s amazing history, Chef O’Connell took on this recent trip to Ireland also to celebrate his heritage. Ballyfin, in Ireland, was a bit of homecoming for him.

“It was amazing to be able to come here to celebrate my Irish ancestry, and my career. But also to work with Chef Sam on such a collaboration,” O’Connell says.

Chef Moody agrees. “Any time you can work with someone of Chef O’Connell’s caliber, you do. He is a legend and we have had such a great time putting this all together. Bits of Irish cooking with bits of Virginia have made for a creative challenge. It’s been brilliant.”

Ballyfin is a luxury guest house that attracts visitors from across Ireland and around the world. With just 20 guest rooms and suites it’s focus is on comfort and an escape from the surrounding world.

Both Chefs work from kitchen gardens using what is local and what is in season. And while their styles of cooking and their offerings are clearly different, the collaboration for this dinner began long before the dinner. They planned what would be available and how it would be presented. And Chef O’Connell even brought a bit of the legendary Virginia ham he is known for to be added to the ingredients already in Ireland.

Diners came from across Ireland and also from Europe and the United States to be a part of it all. Knowing seating would be limited it was something they had looked forward to for months as well.

“It’s the first of the guest chef dinners we plan to have here at Ballyfin, as a special event for our guests. But it most certainly won’t be the last,” Chef Moody says.

And Moody already has plans of returning the favor and traveling to Virginia to collaborate at The Inn at Little Washington in the months to come. No word yet on what Irish elements he may take to add to the offering there, but we’ll keep you posted.

Erin Meehan Breen is a U.S. freelance writer currently based in Galway, Ireland. You can find more of her work at ErinMeehanBreen.com.


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