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Back to Basics with Kevin Dundon

Monday, 18 January 2010

Kevin Dundon Proprietor of Dunbrody House

Kevin Dundon is the Chef/Proprietor of Dunbrody Country House Hotel & Restaurant, located in Ireland's sunny South East. Dunbrody was established in 1997 by Kevin and his wife Catherine and has very quickly become a must-see for all foodies. It is now considered to be one of Ireland's Premier Hotels & Restaurant. Kevin's runs a cookery school at the hotel as well which already recognised as one of the most respected in the country.

Dunbrody is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World and Ireland's Blue Book. The hotel has won numerous awards including Restaurant of the Year 2004, 2005 & 2006, Chef of the Year in the Food and Wine awards 2004, 2005 & 2006, Andrew Harper's Grand Award 2001 for the best Hideaways in the World, Irish Bacon Dish of the Year 2000, Country House of the Year 2001 (Georgina Campbell's Hotel Guide) , Country House of the Year 2001 (National News Paper) Evening Herard RAC Gold Ribbon Award & Three Dining Awards and Red Chateau for the Michelin Guide, to name just a few.

Kevin started his career in Dublin, Ireland in a restaurant called The Old Schoolhouse and continued his studies at Dublin College of Catering where he graduated in 1986. He received a scholarship to work in Switzerland and worked in Zurich in a well known restaurant called La Mère Catherine.

From there, Kevin took a position on Wind Star Sails cruise ship on its maiden voyage from Le Havre, France to the Caribbean. His next position was as Sous-Chef in Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Canada where he represented Canada in culinary competitions in the US, Luxembourg and the culinary Olympics. Kevin also completed his Master's Degree in Canada and received honours in Chef de Cuisine in 1992.

Kevin has cooked for many well-known celebrities during his career including the Her Majesty, the Queen, President Bush and Bono. In 1994, Kevin was head-hunted back to Ireland as the Executive Head Chef of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, widely recognised as one of the most prestigious Chef appointments in Ireland.

Over the past few years Kevin has steadily built his media profile and has appeared on numerous TV channels including ESPN Cable, CBC (Live) Canada, RTE (Live) Ireland and No Frontiers Travel Show. In autumn 2002 Kevin featured as Expert Chef on Ask Anna Series by Stopwatch TV for RTE. He is also a regular on Irish radio.

More recently he appeared on the NBC Today show live on St. Patrick's Day while in New York, representing the Face of Irish Food. During summer 2002 Kevin and Dunbrody Cookery School were the main feature for Hip Productions travel series 'Hip World', broadcast in April 2003 on the US Travel Channel. In addition to this Kevin has made a series of appearances at UKTV Food's Great Food Live, BBC 1's Saturday Kitchen and The Today Programme.

In 2003 Kevin was contracted by MGM Grand in Las Vegas to be the Signature Chef in their Irish pub/restaurant, The Nine Fine Irishmen, which has since been the recipient of numerous excellent reviews and awards. In 2004, Kevin filmed no less than 12 VTs for BBC Good Food Live. 2005 was a very successful year for Kevin whose media profile soared with his role as resident chef of RTE's hugely popular The Afternoon Show every week.

In addition to this, Kevin has also regularly appeared regularly on TV in Nevada, US to promote the restaurant. He has also made appearances on Sara's Secret Food Network and Dinner and a Movie.TSB This year , Kevin has filmed a one hour documentary for an NBC prime time show.

Though Kevin's media profile continues to flourish, he still remains passionate about his role as a Chef and is Chef/Patron of an Irish Gastro Pub in Disneyland, Orlando called Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. A second gastro-pub is opening in Disney, California in 2007.

His first book, Full on Irish, was published by Epicure Press in 2005. Kevin's writing extends to journalism as well and he has written for BBC Good Food Magazine and Delicious among others.

Kevin and Catherine have three Children; Emily, Sophie and Tom. Most recently Kevin was seen on the hit culinary series-Guerrilla gourmet with a host of other famous Irish Chefs.

Kevin has a regular column with the Irish Independent Newspapers where he imparts all of his culinary tips.

Dunbrody White Bread

If you have a friendly baker and can get hold of fresh yeast, simply replace the dried sachets with 25 g/1 oz . Place in a small bowl with two tablespoons of warm water (105-115F) and then stir with a fork until dissolved. Leave to stand for about 3 minutes before using.


Makes 1 Large loaf

. 675 g 1 1/2 lb strong white unbleached white flour, plus extra for dusting
. 2 x 7 g/1/4 oz sachets easy blend dried yeast, about 1 tbsp in total
. about 600 ml/1 pint hand-hot water
. 1 tsp salt
. Olive oil, for greasing
. 1 egg white
. Butter (to serve)


1. Place the flour in the bowl .Add the yeast, hand-hot water and salt. To do this by hand - mix with your fingers for 2-3 minutes, then knead to incorporate the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl and folding the dough over itself until it gathers into a rough mass.
2. Turn the dough out on to a well floured surface; lightly flour your hands. Knead for 6-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. The dough will be very sticky at first; keep your hands and the work surface lightly floured, using a dough scraper if necessary to prevent it from sticking and building up on the work surface. As you continue kneading, the dough will become more elastic and easier to handle.
3. Shape into a loose ball, then return it to a clean bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
4. Turn the dough out again on to a well floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes springy and very smooth. Shape into a loose ball and place it in a lightly oiled large bowl. Turn to coat the dough with the oil and cover tightly with cling film.
5. Leave to rise at room temperature (75-77F) for 1 hour, or until it looks slightly puffy but has not doubled in size.
6. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 7.5 cm/3 in round roll.. Brush with egg white and bake for 20 minutes until the loaves are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool before using.
7. To serve, cut the bread into slices and arrange in a bread basket with a separate pot of butter to serve.

White Soda Bread

This is the bread that is traditionally made at home. When unexpected guests show up and there's nothing in the house I make it into scones by adding a teaspoon of caster sugar and baking at the higher temperature of 220C/450F/Gas 7 for about 15 minutes. For times like this; when the cupboard is bare of buttermilk, sour ordinary milk with the juice of half a lemon.


Makes 1 loaf

. 450 g/1 lb plain flour
. 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
. 1 tsp salt
. about 400 ml/14 fl oz buttermilk
. Butter (to serve)


Preheat the oven to 180CC/350F/Gas 4.

1. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.
2. Make a well in the centre.
3. Pour all of the buttermilk in. Using a large spoon, gently and quickly stir the liquid into the flour. It should be soft but not sticky.
4. Place in a 900 g/2 lb non-stick loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when turned out of the tin and tapped.
5. Place on a wire rack to cool.
6. Eat within hours cut into slices with butter or freeze.

Brown Soda Bread


1. For a light, brown mix use about three-quarters plain flour with one-quarter coarse stoneground wholemeal.
2. Add one to two tablespoons of pinhead oatmeal or very finely chopped nuts or seeds to the mix before adding the buttermilk.
3. You can also experiment by adding a handful of bran or wheatgerm or both, just be prepared to slightly increase the quantity of buttermilk.

The following are different ways in which to present the bread:

Crostini: Don't be tempted to make these too far in advance, as the bread goes soggy. Preheat the grill or a griddle pan and use to toast slices of Caramelised onion Dunbrody bread, preferably one day old, on both sides. Remove from the heat and immediately rub one side with a halved garlic clove. Drizzle over a little olive oil to finish.

Bread Rolls: Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces. Place on a very lightly floured surface and roll each into a ball or small oval shape. Arrange on a non-stick baking sheet and spoon a teaspoon of the onion marmalade on top of each one, then brush with egg white. Bake these at 220C/425F/Gas 7 for about 20 minutes.

Croissant-shaped Rolls: Gently roll out the dough to a 1 cm/1/2 thick on a very lightly floured surface and cut into small triangles. Brush with beaten egg white and starting at the base of each triangle roll towards the tip. Shape into half moons and arrange on a non-stick baking sheet with the tips tucked underneath. Bake these at 220C/425F/Gas 7 for about 20 minutes.

Breadsticks: Roll out the dough on a very lightly floured surface into a rectangle that is about 1 cm/1/2 thick. Brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or a mixture of freshly chopped herbs is liked and then sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Cut into 1 cm/1/2 in strips and place on to a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on their size until crisp and golden brown.

Batons: Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a long roll with tapering ends, about 35 cm/14 in long. Transfer to a non-stick large baking sheet and bake these at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for about 30 minutes.

Glazing: For a pale, shiny glaze brush with egg white as described in the recipe. While beaten egg gives a deep, golden shiny finish. Brushing with water gives a crisp crust and milk produces a soft, golden crust. Whole grains, seeds, Maldon sea salt or freshly grated Parmesan can be sprinkled over the dough before baking.