Imperial Hotel, South Mall, Cork City welcomes new Executive Head Chef

8 July 2016
By Bryan Smyth

Pat O’Connell, Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary and Paul O’Connell are pictured at the 200 year anniversary celebrations of The Imperial Hotel in Cork city in June. Photo by Conor Healy Photography

The four- star, Flynn family owned, Imperial Hotel in Cork city centre has appointed a new Executive Head Chef. Nicky Foley, from Kilmeaden in Waterford will now oversee all of the food offerings at The Imperial Hotel which celebrates it’s 200th year anniversary this year and has just undergone a major renovation and rejuvenation programme. Nicky is a passionate food lover, he comes from a family of ten, and has six brothers and three sisters and says that food has always been a huge part of his life. Growing up he was constantly reminded that ingredients are everything and his mother was extremely resourceful and very organised in her cooking. “My mother is a very good home cook and I was inspired by her love of food and also her attitude to using everything and wasting nothing. Every part of an animal, from nose to tail can be used in the most delicious ways and many of the dishes on our new menus are evocative of my own childhood and also show a respect to the animal or fish and the environment in which it lived. For example, our Angus Beef dish features several parts of the animal including cheek and tail but is accompanied by watercress which the animal would have eaten and wild parsnip which can be found in the fields in which it grazed. I am particularly mindful of using local produce, ingredients that are not forced but have been allowed to grow and mature as nature intended. That’s the real secret ingredient to any great dish.”

Nicky travelled extensively throughout Europe before spending five years with chef Richard Corrigan at Bentley’s in London. “Working under Richard was a fantastic experience,” said Nicky, “he always strove for perfection and encouraged me to be a better chef and to look at food in a more creative and respectful way.” He also worked with the Aubaine Group and the D&D Group as well as the Rotunda Bar & Restaurant in London which was famous for its farm to fork ethos, before eventually returning to Ireland to take up his current post.

Some of the highlights of Nicky’s career include cooking live on CNBC news, competing in the Taste of London Live Cook Off and winning the Square Meal Canapé Cup, Critics Cup. He has cooked for the toast of London and is now bringing his own unique style of food to Cork.

‘Nicky Foley @ The Pembroke’ features many dishes that have been inspired by the ingredients and produce that is readily available to Nicky’s kitchen. Local produce includes such delicacies as Castletownbare Hake, Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding, Clonakilty Corn Fed Chicken, Kinsale Black Sole and Frank Hederman Smoked Irish Salmon which are all sourced from the immediate locality. “We are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding the best quality and best range of ingredients,” said Nicky, “the Old English Market is just a few minutes’ walk from the kitchens here and I love to browse through the market in the early morning and hand pick the freshest of the fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat.”

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