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Michael Healy-Rae is famous for politics, his love of Kerry and now - his passion for food. The culinary side of the popular politician will be exposed when Michael takes over as head chef in ‘The Restaurant’ and kicks off a brand new series of the top rating cookery show on Sunday, November 16th.
Michael knows the key to pleasing the critics on the night, and it comes from a source close to his heart ‘Hunger is the best sauce, my Grandmother always said it .... whether they’ll enjoy it or not, depends on whether they are hungry or not....I hope they haven’t ate for the last three days!’
Between his constituency work and running his businesses, Michael spent a lot of time devising his 3-course menu. He wanted ‘fresh, local produce and just to try to be a little bit different’. But Michael is realistic about his chances of taking a five star rating back to his home in Kilgarvan, speaking of resident critics Tom Doorley and Paolo Tullio, and the Guest Critic Sammy Leslie of Castle Leslie and Failte Towers, Michael says that ‘I wouldn’t be too over ambitious but at the same time I have to aim reasonably high. So I’ll aim for a 4 and hope for the best‘
When it comes to food, Michael feels just as strongly as he does about politics saying ‘You’re either cut for politics or you’re not. You either give the service and you’re liked or else you’re not. And there’s no such thing as half measures. It’s like tonight, we’ll have no half measures’
Never slow to promote his beloved Kerry, Michael brings his passion for the Kingdom to ‘The Restaurant’ in particular his love of Kerry football. Super fan Michael placed two giant Kerry GAA flags in the kitchen declaring to the restaurant team that ‘You’re all honorary Kerry people this evening’. Michael also stayed true to sartorial form and balked at wearing the traditional uniform chef’s hat, insisting instead on wearing his trademark flat cap saying ‘I wouldn’t wear that in a fit. Now I feel way more at home and more like myself!’
The pride of Kerry produce was also brought to Michael’s kitchen and most of it arrived in the boot of his car. For his first main course, Baked Mullet with Dublin Bay Prawns, Michael says ‘I brought the freshest fish that I could get. Straight off the boat and into the boot of my car’.
For his starter of Sneem Black Pudding with Apple and Toasted Hazelnuts, Michael commissioned a special batch of Black Pudding for his menu saying ‘It’s the best of Black Pudding, this is from the heart of the kingdom of the county of Kerry... a local butcher there produced this especially for me and I brought it up in my car. I told him that I wanted it to be less spicy than usual because I’m a little bit fussy about that’.
Michael looked to the Bishop’s Palace in Killarney for inspiration for his second starter, Nettle Soup, saying ‘I’m looking for good Kerry ingredients and a special recipe from the Bishop of Kerry.. All I can say is God bless the Bishop’ He also shared a tip with the team for taking nettles off the stem without stinging yourself ‘If you take a deep breath, and catch the stalk, you can pull them off, and once you’re not breathing, you won’t get stung, all you have to do is pull!’
When it came to his Trio of Mousse with Guinness and Blackcurrant Ice Cream Michael admitted that some people would be shocked at his use of a good pint in a bowl of ice cream ‘There is some people now that would think this is a sin, spilling this in here like’
Tune in to see how Michael Healy-Rae gets on when he takes on ‘The Restaurant’ challenge in the first of a brand new series on RTE1, November 16th, in the new slot of Sunday night at 8:30 pm.