SIMPLE fish recipes bursting with flavour and goodness that anyone can cook at home - that's what Martin Shanahan is bringing to Listowel for his appearance in one of the highlights of upcoming Food Fair.
Loved by TV audiences since he burst onto our scenes with Martin's Mad About Fish, the Fermoy native is set to deliver the big cookery demonstration of the Food Fair on Thursday night, November 1, at 8pm in the Listowel Arms Hotel.
And it's fair to say the very prospect of his appearance has foodies across the county salivating already as a mouthwatering experience is guaranteed. It's a return to his much-loved Kerry, where he cut his culinary teeth in the early 80s at the famous Butler Arms in Waterville.
Martin told The Kerryman this week that his demonstration will very much depend on the catch of the day, but there are a few species he is hoping to emphasise.
"I'm really hoping to highlight hake as it's a very under utilised fish, but extremely tasty and full of nourishment. What I'm hoping to do is a lot of very simple, straightforward recipes that people can easily do at home, nothing too elaborate as I don't think people are interested in that at all. They want things they can make themselves and that's why fish is so wonderful," Martin said.
He is also hoping to link up a local fish outlet to bring home to the people of Listowel the importance and wonder of seafood. His own programmes are in no small way responsible for reigniting the appetite of the populace in this regard.
"People are really getting clued into fish. They're understanding more and more just how simple and easy it is to make and the availability of fresh fish is improving a great deal as well with more fish shops popping up in towns all over the country, just as with Listowel!"
In the early 80s in Kerry, Martin's experience of fish was of cooking for the well-heeled in the bustling Butler Arms. It was a great place to come of age in the kitchen, he recalls.
"It was brilliant. I started in Waterville in 1980 and back then it was very famous for fishing. The Arms was famous worldwide, the likes of Charlie Chaplin would have stayed there and we had plenty of lords and ladies coming over to stay, most of whom would go fishing.
"We had no lorries with big refrigeration units coming in in those days so most of the fish we cooked was straight off the boats of our guests! It was great training for any young chef."
Some years later Martin found himself in the stunning port of Kinsale at Jim Edwards restaurant. Today, he is the most famous Kinsale restarauteur of the lot through his television work and his award-winning restaurant Fishy Fishy and its sister café.
That's why it's good to hear from someone so highly-placed that the Listowel Food Fair is a brand to be reckoned with within the food world. "The Listowel Food Fair is established a long time and it is very highly respected within the industry. Apart from everything it does to promote food it was a very brave step by the people in Listowel to establish it in November, as most festivals are during the summer.
Its winter schedule is one of its great strengths, he said. "November can be a long enough month so it is fantastic to have something like the Listowel Food Fair to look forward to!"