Chef Mark Moriarty on cooking for Ireland's frontline workers and 'Cook-in' from home
"People are reconnecting with cooking again."
When Mark Moriarty's Dublin restaurant closed suddenly in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, he didn't want to sit at home and doing nothing.
Instead, he teamed up with a non-profit, his usual suppliers, and the Gardaí and starting preparing meals for frontline staff in hospitals and nursing homes.
Now he and his team are making 250 two course meals every day; 500 food packages sent out to workers fighting Covid-19 in ICUs and care homes across Dublin and Kildare.
"We had a week of going, 'Oh god what are we going to do?'" he tells Her. "Then I got a call from our head chef Michael and he said we should be using our skills to do something small.
"We’re still getting to use our skills and it gives workers a 10 minute break where they can have something nice [to eat], so it makes a difference.”
But cooking for frontline workers isn't the only thing keeping Mark busy during lockdown. He has also been working on his latest series for RTÉ, Cook-in with Mark Moriarty.
Sponsored by Bord Bia, the eight-part series will delve deep into our fridges, cupboards and freezers, giving at-home chefs some tips and tricks on how to make delicious, simple meals all from the comfort of their own home.
The show features everything from slow cooked lamb curry, to one-pan pizza, to the nation's new favourite food: banana bread.
Filmed on three cameras and Mark's own phone, the series is a product of Covid-19 living. Shot entirely in adherence to social distancing measures, Cook-in was born of the knowledge that lockdown has - for the most part - reignited the public's love of food.
"It’s been mad, we’ve got a massive studio and we all have certain areas that we’re not allowed to leave," says Mark.
"Our producer is working remotely at home and calling in on Zoom every day, and all the editing is being done at home too. I’ve got an easy job really, I just bang out the recipes for the day.
"We wanted to do something rough and ready, that’s of the time, and using really simple ingredients.
Mark says that despite the obvious struggles and pressures that have come with the virus, being almost exclusively confined to our homes has ultimately changed the way we interact with food.
“You can see it already, people are reconnecting with cooking again," he says. "People are learning to cook, others are rediscovering their love for cooking, and some are advancing their skills.
"One of the other big things is that people now have an understanding of how food supply chains work.
"In the beginning, things like flour were running out and people were realising the importance of supporting Irish producers.
"We're getting a crash course on these things and that will have a positive impact in the long run."
Cook-in with Mark Moriarty kicks off tomorrow night, Wednesday May 6, on RTÉ One at 8.30pm.