As part of #StrongerTogether, our initiative in partnership with Unilever Food Solutions, we’re delighted to be recognising Hospitality Heroes: individuals or small teams from the hospitality sector who are doing amazing things to support their communities during the current crisis.
This week’s Hospitality Hero is chef Gavin McDonagh and his team in the kitchen at Ulster Bank in Sandyford. They have been working tirelessly for the past month, cooking delicious meals for staff working nights in ICU departments in Tallaght and Beaumont hospitals in Dublin, on the frontline with COVID patients.
Gavin says: “I work with BaxterStorey and one of our units is this one here in Ulster Bank in Central Park. They’ve kindly allowed us to use it while we’re feeding the hospital staff. We’re in at 5.30am and I leave by 1pm to go and do the deliveries, which I am personally doing every day. We deliver the food in the afternoons to both hospitals: 100 to both hospitals, so 200 in total.”
“We’re making substantial healthy, nutritious salads. I didn’t want to just give more Caesar salads, I wanted them to be really delicious while being well balanced and substantial so that they would give the staff all the energy they need to get through their shifts.”
“I wanted to use my chef and restaurant knowledge in the dishes and use different techniques like salting, pickling and fermenting, so that I could also use this experience to educate the chefs that are working with me. They wouldn’t perhaps be exposed to some of these techniques normally, so I wanted them to learn something while helping out during this project.”
“I really wanted to champion local Irish produce in the salads, so we are using the likes of St. Tola Cheese, Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt and Killenure Dexter Beef products. Another reason we are using them is that, right now, some of these producers have surplus stock which might go to waste, so by using it up we’re helping them with that problem too.”
“Sean Hussey kindly sponsored the van by loaning us one for deliveries for the period that we are doing this project. We also use some of his produce for the salads.”
“The feedback we’re getting has been great, from doctors and nurses and other staff. I’ve even had a few come out to me at the van to make a point of thanking me personally.”
Gavin has been instrumental in driving this project here in Dublin and working with his chefs and local suppliers to get the best produce possible at cost price, in order to deliver deliciously nutritious and creative menus on a weekly basis.
Gavin’s son, Lee, is also fast becoming an accomplished chef in his own right, having won the Knorr® Professional Student Chef of the Year 2019.