Whoever said you should never work with animals never got the attention of Tom Flavin. The executive chef of Limerick's Strand Hotel, together with his white welly boot clad team, stars alongside a host of different animals in the hotel’s own movie, “Limerick Strand Our Food Story.”
For nearly 4 minutes Tom’s dulcet tones provide a relaxing voiceover to scenes shot within a 20 mile radius of Limerick city, as the group visits suppliers of ingredients that feature on the menu at the Strand Hotel.
The footage is both informative and, at times, amusing. On the first port of call to Ballyagran I hold my breath for a second when I see Tom hovering in a split-like pose and I briefly wonder if he is going to give way and collapse onto the luscious green organic leaves.
I get a sense that it is fun to work in a kitchen with Tom at the helm: with that engaging smile, I imagine it would be difficult to say no to the man. However, he reveals at the midway point of the journey to Rigney’s Farm in Curraghchase that rare-breed farmer Caroline Rigney is immune to his charms and, despite his best efforts, has refused to reveal the recipe for her black pudding to him.
The final stop of the day is in Croom, to search out honey and free range eggs. The cackles at this pitstop are not confined to the hens on Sean Duggan’s farm, however, watch out carefully for the one that has the last laugh.
Throughout the footage, my mouth is watering when I see the 3 courses of plated dishes created using components personally sourced along Tom's journey. A smoked seafood platter with organic leaves is followed by a main course of slow cooked pork belly, spiced pudding and pressed ham hock terrine, golden beetroot and aromatic leaves. To finish off, it’s a selection of homemade ice cream served with summer berries in a tuille basket.
All in all it's a food-Oscar winning performance, bringing the importance of the provenance of locally sourced ingredients to the forefront. Take a bow Tom and the Strand team.
Ennis Road Limerick Tel: 061 421 800 www.strandhotellimerick.ie