In this blog we chat to our lovely neighbour and friend Trevis Gleason, author of Chef Interrupted, Dingle Dinners and most recently Burren Dinners. We were very honoured to be asked to contribute our family recipe for Dingle Dinners.
Why Dingle? How did you end up settling here?
I visited Dingle for the first time in 2003. It was my first time in Ireland and I wanted to see as much as I could in the limited amount of time I had available to me. It was winter, which was a very nice time to visit. My brother and I stayed in Dingle for a night and we ended up in Laura walkers Wildbanks Restaurant, which was my first time in a restaurant in Ireland and this was just eye-opening food for me! As a former chef Dingle has everything that is important to me – the food, the food culture, and the amazing beauty. So I decided that I would come back as soon as I could and very soon ended up renting a cottage on Conor Pass road for a time. I eventually went back to Seattle and met my wife Caryn but knew that I wanted to go back to Ireland and Dingle. So we came on our honeymoon and Caryn just loved Dingle so we decided to pack up bag and baggage and move to Dingle for a few years. That was ten years ago. Dingle made me long to come back but it is the people that made me stay ! if there is one thing I have learned since moving – is that there is no such thing as a quick trip to the shops … everyone chats and I just love that !
What inspired your books?
In my early career I was in the US Coastguard and then later on I became a chef and chef lecturer. I have always loved writing – although a childhood teacher told me I would never be an author! Due to my MS it sort of become a career that I fell into. I was contributing articles to the MS Society in the US and eventually was scripting their webcasts – before the days of podcasts! In 2005 I started writing their blog and was writing 500 word pieces three times a week. My first book Chef Interrupted came about because of my time in the cottage on Conor Pass. Over the winter I had so many guests and friends visit that I began recording our daily jaunts in the Dingle Peninsula. I have a friend who is a publishing consultant also (Steven Kings) and he encouraged me to get the book written. It was published first in the US and that year won an award for Best Culinary Memoir in the World Cook Book Awards. I was then in contact with Collins Press who published the book in Ireland tailored to an Irish audience. It was actually Con Collins who gave me the idea for Dingle Dinners and so I wrote the proposal and the book came to fruition. The biggest part for me was writing the story of the people involved … Laura Walker features as she was my first food experience in Dingle, and all the other contributors are now friends and neighbours who offer food experience in Dingle and all have a wonderful story to tell.
Who is your greatest influence?
Michel Le Borgne, in new England Culinary Institute. He was the guy that made it all make sense to me. He incorporated art, passion, and hard work into his cuisine. It is all about the details with him, it is the French way. One of his favourite sayings is “a shiny shoe is a happy shoe” and he has become one of my best friends over the years. I have honestly learned from every single chef that I have worked with over the years. Here in Ireland I really admire Neven Maguire, who penned the foreword for Dingle Dinners, and Brian McDermot who have both been very kind to me. I also admire David McCann in Dromoland Castle, who treats his kitchen like I treat mine. He gives people a hand up, people who might not have been given a chance anywhere else.
What is your favourite food?
Oysters!! They are the perfect food. You can taste from whence and when of it. I love our local oysters but my favourite would be Belone oysters. I make a really great barbeque sauce at home which is my piece de resistance with oysters.
What is your favourite part of the day?
I would say I am a morning person. When I worked with the US Coastguard I loved working the night shift and hearing the sounds of the ship waking up in the morning, smelling the bacon cooking and the coffee brewing in the galley kitchen, all those senses that we associate with morning. I love being up early in the morning – sunrise over sunset!
What is your favourite part of the peninsula?
We just love the cliffs at Doonshean, start on the strand and then head to the cliffs. Each step and each finger of the cliffs brings you a little bit higher and the view becomes more and more spectacular. The natural beauty is stunning, and each time it gets better and better. We like to take a picnic and just sit in the grass at the top of the cliffs, you almost feel as if you are becoming part of the landscape.
What would you do if you won the Lottery?
I would look after all my family, pay off their debts. Then I would set up a non-profit trust for the issues that are important to Caryn and I. And last but by no means least I would buy something really nice for Caryn.
Trevis’s books are available in Easons and to order online