Jumoke Akintola was born and raised in Hackney in East London and attended the University of Warwick. She trained to be a teacher and met her husband, Peter Hogan, from Tramore, Co Waterford, who was training in the same school. She taught for five years. In 2013, Jumoke and Peter opened Fish Shop in Blackrock Market; it moved to Smithfield in 2015. In January, the couple moved to Tramore to open The Beach House, which re-opened last week.
Did you grow up in a family where food was important?
Yes, although I didn't realise until I was older. I lived with my aunt, Bola, and we ate fresh food every day, nothing processed, no ready meals, mostly vegetarian and mostly Nigerian dishes. We used to shop for meat, fish and vegetables at the Ridley Road market near Stoke Newington rather than in supermarkets - I hated that.
What's your most vivid food memory from childhood?
Being in the kitchen with my aunt - I wasn't allowed not to join in with the cooking. It was where she tried and failed to teach me Yoruba, so I link cooking with the language - one of this, two of that. I can't speak it but I can follow a conversation if someone is speaking directly to me.
What was the first thing you learned to cook?
Plain white rice. At first it was stodgy, more like rice pudding, but eventually I got it right.
Did you always know that you wanted to work in food?
Not at all, although Peter always did, he told me that when we first met. I didn't think it had anything to do with me; I'd completed my Masters in sociology and was planning to move into academia. While we were still teaching in London I started helping him with street-food events and dinner parties and then when we started Fish Shop in Blackrock I was front of house and he was cooking. In the middle of a shift one day we swapped and it's been that way ever since. We never spoke of it again. I think my personality is more suited to being the chef - I like to plan and be organised; he's a bit more relaxed.
Who has been the biggest influence on the way that you cook?
My aunt gave me the confidence to cook, she made it seem as if it wasn't a big deal. There was no recipe, no apron, we just got on with it. It's still my favourite way to cook, to open the fridge and see what's there. In the restaurant, of course, we do it the other way around.
What's your signature dish?
Turbot, beurre blanc, asparagus.
Is there any ingredient that you hate?
I don't love carrots - they are okay raw but cooked, even in a stock, they take over. I don't like oranges either. I can smell if someone near me has eaten one. I associate them with one particular teacher in school. I didn't much like him.
Is there anything that you love to eat that you'd prefer your friends didn't know about?
I've eaten way too many fish and chips in my time. My friends would be shocked by how many. In Blackrock it was every day. It's less often now.
Is there anything that you won't/don't eat for ethical reasons?
Eggs from caged hens and industrially reared pork. I tend not to buy meat or fish in the supermarket. In the restaurant we use as much local fish as we can get.
What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?
I don't think it's particularly strange, but tripe is one of my favourite things to eat. In Nigerian cuisine, we eat it in a tomato-based stew. I love the tripe dish they serve in Terre Madre in Dublin.
What's your guilty (food) pleasure?
Crisps, preferably smokey bacon flavour. It used to be Walker's but since I moved to Ireland I've converted to Tayto. I did my research.
What kitchen gadget could you not live without and what's the most overrated?
My Birkenstock kitchen clogs are essential. I think a large collection of knives is unnecessary; you need three - a cook's knife that fits your hand, a serrated knife and a paring knife. When we were moving to Tramore, the staff in Fish Shop Benburb Street bought me two beautiful knives from Sam Gleeson at This is What I Do.
What current cooking trend do you dislike the most?
I don't like too many things on a plate. If you're going to serve a sauce, have it in a jug.
What's your desert island cookbook?
Roast Chicken & Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson. It's one of the few cookbooks that I can read in bed and enjoy for the words rather than feel I have to cook from.
What three things do you always keep in your fridge?
Our fridge is always embarrassingly bare. We usually have leftovers from the restaurant, white wine and olives.
What's your go-to store-cupboard meal?
What was the last great meal that you ate?
We brought the staff from Benburb St to Alicante in March for their Christmas party. At Populi, we had a dish of sliced potatoes with a fried egg and fresh truffles that was amazing. The pan con tomate was the best I've ever had - in March!
What's your favourite restaurant in the world?
St John in Smithfield, London. We had our wedding reception there and return each year for our anniversary in August. I don't know if we'll make it this year.
What chef do you admire the most?
Mariya Russell in Chicago, who was the first black woman chef in America to gain a Michelin star. I also really admire Edna Lewis, another black female chef, who refined the American view of Southern cooking - she was very glamorous. And Margot Henderson of Rochelle Canteen in London - I remember reading about her cooking in the restaurant with her child on her hip. I love that attitude.
What do you think the impact of Covid-19 is going to be on restaurants?
It's going to be very tough, but if we make it through in both places, I think there will be an opportunity to step back and make changes for good. Yes, we have to be profitable, but we also need to enjoy our day-to-day work.
Do you eat breakfast?
I eat yoghurt with fruit in season or, if I know I'll miss lunch, I have scrambled eggs.
What are you going to have for dinner tonight?
Leftover roast chicken and salad.
And what will you drink with that?
Someone gave us a bottle of Tempier Bandol Rose - the weather is lovely, so we'll have that.