Meet executive pastry chef Niamh Larkin
Niamh Larkin, our pastry guru at 45 Park Lane, grew up enjoying her grandmother’s homemade soda bread served with plenty of Irish butter. Nowadays she likes nothing more than the joys of baking instilled in her from an early age.
What’s your hotel signature dish?
Our popular chocolate soufflé, it’s a Wolfgang Puck signature dish, which is featured in all his CUT restaurant concepts. It really is the most delicious thing, so rich and indulgent when served with chocolate sauce, whipped crème fraiche and gianduja ice cream. To try it is to love it.
What treat do you cook at home for friends?
A firm favourite with friends is my chocolate fondant or a classic apple crumble – everyone loves comfort food done well. Another great idea that I can highly recommend is keeping a roll of chocolate chip cookies or citrus shortbread in my freezer, that way I can always conjure up fresh cookies in next to no time.
What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
I’m not a fan of lots of gadgets as I don’t like clutter but I love my Thermomix. I was given it as a wedding gift and it does everything from weighing and chopping to cooking. It’s extremely useful and something I wouldn’t be without.
What’s your favourite food memory?
I grew up on a dairy farm in Ireland so I had an amazing childhood, drinking the creamiest milk straight from the cow and eating my grandmother’s soda bread with a generous amount of butter. It’s still my idea of food heaven.
When did you fall in love with cooking?
I enjoyed cooking with my mother as a child but I will always remember the first hotel I worked at. I started as a part-time waitress before being asked by the chef to work in the kitchen. I jumped at the chance and, looking back now, I can’t believe the responsibility I was given at such a young age. I absolutely loved every bit of it and I’m grateful to have had that opportunity as it really sparked a passion in me to pursue this career.
What inspires your creations?
I always find things in everyday life that inspire me. The seasons are a particularly good source, as is following inspirational chefs around the world to help spark ideas.
Chefs work long hours, how do you like to spend your time off?
I love going for long, scenic walks with my husband and our dog in Virginia Water, near Windsor Great Park. It’s such a beautiful place and a great way to clear my head after a busy week.
Any tips for cooking at home?
Take your time to prepare properly. If you set yourself up properly and work in a clean and organised way, I promise you that you’ll enjoy it far more and cooking really should be a joy.
What’s your best foodie experience from around the world?
We travelled to Italy for our honeymoon and I can’t wait to go back. It was a phenomenal experience, eating the finest prosciutto and burrata, incredible homemade pasta and don’t even get me started on the pizza – divine. Definitely my best foodie experience ever. Japan and New York are next on my list.
What’s the one dessert you think everyone should master?
Soufflé, it’s so rewarding when you do it at home for your guests. It’s worth putting the effort in as it’s a great way to finish a meal but if not do come and try ours at CUT at 45 Park Lane.
What food could you not live without?
I have to say potatoes. They are obviously a firm favourite with us Irish people but seriously there’s nothing that’s as delicious and versatile as potatoes.
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