Oliver's Fuel Food is a big hit with the stars including Bono, Woody Harrelson and Josh Hartnett
The Select Stores has been in Dalkey for almost 60 years, says Lucinda O'Sullivan, and its new Fuel Food Kitchen and Deli is hot hot hot
Where do health-conscious celebrities head when looking for their fresh juices, veggie burgers, Bircher muesli or protein-rich eggcado?
The Select Stores in Dalkey is the answer. Among its fans it numbers Bono, The Edge, Neil Jordan, 007 actress Eva Greene, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hartnett and Ryan Tubridy... They know that at Fuel Food - Select Stores' new wholefood kitchen and deli - they will get amazing freshly-squeezed juices, a huge range of organic foods, and sublimely fresh energy-powered breakfast and lunch, to eat in or take out.
Nutritionist and general manager Oliver McCabe told me his parents started Select Stores in 1959, and how he and his four siblings, grew up over the shop in what is one of the most beautiful coastal villages in Dublin.
Dalkey has always attracted affluent, arty and celebrity residents, including the late Hugh Leonard and Maeve Binchy. Set on an apex facing down the main thoroughfare, Castle Street, the Select Stores is an amalgam of what was originally three shops - now combining a shop, deli kitchen and a quirky, atmospheric cafe area.
"My parents, Paddy and Margaret McCabe, were from Co Cavan," Oliver says. "They met in Dun Laoghaire, in a newsagents where my mum was working and where my dad used buy the paper.
"Eventually, they set up their own shop here in 1959 in one section of this building, which was a greengrocers. The two adjoining shops were originally a wine shop and a butchers. Over the years they bought them."
A family photo holds pride of place watching over the cafe section and you can't but feel that the late Paddy and Margaret would be delighted with the way the family has taken the business forward.
"My brother Leo is the owner and boss. He keeps me in order. My sisters Mairead and Hilary are front of house and sous chef respectively."
Head chef is Eoghan McDermott, who has worked in the Green House and Residence.
"My father basically ran a general store for Dalkey. He was a great man, a community man. He started the swimming club in Castlepark School, and he also worked with Dalkey United FC. He was very much about sport and healthy living and he would have gone out of his way for people."
Recalling how his father supplied hotels such as the Killiney Court, Cliff Castle, Shangri La and Dalkey Island, which are all long gone, Oliver says they are crying out for B&Bs in Dalkey - if anyone had a notion to open one.
"It's not until you go travelling that you realise what a beautiful place Dalkey is, you kind of take it for granted."
Having left school and studied communications in Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Oliver went to Australia for three years and then to the US for a year. "I worked in Neil Perry's Rockpool chain of restaurants in Sydney, and the way he worked with vegetables inspired me. Then I worked in health food stores. It was 1998 and I was greatly taken with the idea of fruit and vegetables just going through a juicer.
"I hadn't seen that before and I thought about my mum being here and what we could be doing next, and where the trend was going. So when I came back in 2001 I worked here for three years as a greengrocer and in 2004 we renovated it, putting in a juice bar, and it became a health food store. I went back to college for three years, studying with the Irish Institute of Nutrition & Health, and graduated as a nutritional therapist."
Oliver is very passionate about what he does and gives lots of talks at schools and businesses, as well as clubs.
"When I started, organic whole foods were just emerging, so I would probably have been the first to bring organic foods into Dalkey. Juicing has really caught on, particularly after the Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead documentary by Joe Cross."
It keeps evolving, Oliver says, with people getting familiar with quinoa and millet, then paleo foods.
"However, I have a theory that health food is getting more about greed than care and a lot of people are hopping on the bandwagon.
"Juices can be bought in supermarkets, but they have long shelf lives and are not freshly made. Everyone is getting in on the gluten-free as well. It shouldn't be taken as 'I'll lose weight on this'. It's for coeliacs only.
"The big corporations are into gluten-free too, but they add in all this other stuff instead. If you don't recognise something on a label, don't buy it. If you ask the staff and they don't know, then definitely don't buy it."
Oliver also feels that many of the fashionable healthy lifestyle books have complicated recipes involving far too many expensive ingredients. Recognising that everybody wants to be some way healthy, he queries why you would need a dozen ingredients in a dish when five would be more than adequate?
"I get a lot of people who have been watching TV and reading books spending exorbitant amounts of money, maybe €60 on a meal for four people out of a recipe book. I just think that's wrong. I have my ear to the ground, I'm a shopkeeper, so I ask them, are you going to do that again and they say 'probably not'."
To that end, Oliver has put pen to paper to write the Select Stores Fuel Food Cookbook, which will be published next January. It will have over 100 easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, each with a nutritional tip. It will be 70pc vegetarian, but will also have chicken, meat and fish dishes.
"I love eggs," Oliver says. "Our big breakfast dish is eggcado, which is actually my mum's recipe of organic chopped boiled eggs, ripe avocados, chives and a little bit of olive oil, which you mix together and have with sourdough toast. It's all about food combining where you have your essential fats, your protein and low carbs, so all the gym bunnies and boys love it."
Their veggie burgers - such as the 'Herby Lentil Love' and the 'Millet Mega Protein' - are also hugely popular. They also do lovely wholefood salads, including Asian coleslaw, which is mayo-free, and a lot of them are sugar, dairy, yeast and wheat-free. Oliver also gets his spelt baps from the popular long-standing neighbouring bakery, Country Bake.
"I want to make healthy food mainstream, especially for kids." Not a bad ideal.