When it was first suggested that Anna Haugh might want to become a chef it seemed an unlikely scenario.
“A friend of my mother’s saw my interest in cooking and suggested that I might like to do it as a job,” Haugh recalls for our latest podcast, which has been created in partnership with Bord Bia. “I was at an all girls school in Dublin at the time. She might as well have said ‘you like the stars, why don’t you become an astronaut?’”
Yet here she is. Having enjoyed a high-flying career cooking for other chefs - including Gordon Ramsay, Phil Howard and Shane Osborn - Haugh recently opened her debut solo restaurant. In Chelsea, Myrtle champions Irish ingredients and recipes, although that wasn’t initially the plan.
Anna Haugh's sea bass with burnt Irish butter sauce
“Myrtle was originally supposed to be a modern European restaurant with Irish influences,” she explains. “I thought London would freak out if I opened an Irish restaurant. But it turns out that anything I put on the menu that’s Irish sells really well. People want to know all about it and where exactly it comes from. So that’s what this restaurant is now all about.”
Irish dishes have been so popular, in fact, that Haugh has created a Taste of Ireland tasting menu that showcases the country’s cuisine, with each dish linked to a particular county.
“When you have something that already tastes good you’re already 50% of the way to having a delicious day. I do actually feel very privileged and lucky to have these ingredients. And it’s nice because Ireland is just on our doorstep. It’s our neighbour.”
Haugh has long been a champion of Irish produce and also supports Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) with promoting Irish food and drink in the UK.
Irish dairy products are key to Myrtle’s menu, with a number of dishes showcasing the country’s high quality cheese, cream and butter.
“People often don’t really think about what their milk and their butter and their cream tastes like. But there is a natural sweetness you get from Irish dairy which helps you make delicious dishes.”
With its mild climate and plentiful rainfall, Ireland is naturally suited to sustainable, grass-fed dairy farming. A heritage of family farming, passed from generation to generation, combined with lush green fields, clean air and plentiful rain create the perfect environment for creating high quality dairy products.
Ireland is leading the way in terms of sustainable food production with Bord Bia’s (The Irish Food Board) Origin Green programme which works across the entire supply chain to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that respect the environment and ensure quality standards remain high. Visit www.bordbia.ie for more information.