House of Plates
Barry Ralph gets excited by all the simple elements and ingredients of a chef’s life. The handsomely ruddy celeriac from Joe Kelly’s farm that he will bake in a salt crust in order to intensify its flavour; the late-winter sloes he will forage and then freeze until he is ready to use them for winter drinks; the pig cheek he will pair with smoked black pudding; the elderberries he will collect from the bush at perfect ripeness, then transform into a jus to match with rabbit loin and some of that salt-baked celeriac. Mr Ralph collects all the good things at the right moment in time, then collates them onto your plate in an idealised, logical – and delicious – form. House of Plates personifies modern County Mayo cooking, a gathering from the fields and hedges, the polytunnels and vegetable beds, the waters and the shoreline, the dairy and his own beehives, with these world-class ingredients then cooked and arrayed with artful care on the customer’s plate. Over the course of five short years, Mr Ralph and his team have grown in confidence, and character, and House of Plates has steadily moved up a gear, with every year. Right now, they are cruising along in fifth, upping the revs, moving towards top speed.