A Derry chef is penning a book about the city’s rich history in food including Doherty’s Special Mince, Shin Beef Soup and fresh baps after retreat at five in the morning.
Emmett McCourt a chef and lecturer at the NWRC is writing a book which will trace the origins of food culture in Derry and the surrounding areas from the 19th Century up until the present day.
He explains: “I’m on the first chapter at the moment and it’s been very, very interesting.
“I’ve started just after the Irish Famine about 1845-1850 and I’ve discovered a lot.
“For example Irish food has been influenced by France and America specifically. I’m very excited to be doing it.”
The local chef decided to write the book as he felt that Derry was always underrated in terms of food culture.
“Food has been a journey for me throughout my career.
“So I thought it would be great to go back and discover my own food journey as well as the historical
and cultural food journey of Derry and the people of Derry.
“Also, I think it is important to champion the producers, the suppliers and the mentors that have embedded it in me.”
Emmett started his career more than 24 years ago at the NI Hotel and Catering College Portrush and
hasn’t looked back.
He has travelled extensively training in French cookery and rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s top chefs such as the legendary George Paineu and Ives Thuries of France.
However according to Emmett “it’s knowing where your bread is buttered” that is equally important.
“My passion for food has been born here in Derry.
“I always remember growing up with Doherty’s Special Mince, Shin Beef Soup, fresh baps after retreat at five in the morning-all these details are going into the book.”
Emmett is keen to pass this pas-sion on to his students who will feature in the book.
“I’m doing the book as part of a Curriculum Projec who are funding the research for the first couple
of chapters,” he said.
“Ultimately for the students and the curriculum it provides a tool whereby they research sustainability, providence and learn new skills.
“When they leave here hopefully it will have planted the seed for them to learn about where their food comes from.
For Emmett the book is a ‘work in progress’ and he hopes to have it launched by 2013 to coincide with Derry’s tenure as UK City of Culture.
“It will launch the food of Derry and raise the profile of the city.
“There is a great food culture here and it needs to be tapped into,” he said.