Exclusive Interview with Celebrity Chef, Donal Skehan

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YouTube star and BBC Lifestyle celebrity chef, Donal Skehan is in Singapore recently to promote his latest show and book: Meals in Minutes. He has gained popularity among the young working adults and new parents due to his popular Instagram and YouTube channels where he shares his recipes on various cuisines. 

About Donal Skehan, he is an Irish food writer, food photographer and television presenter living in Los Angeles, USA. Inspired by a family of passionate food lovers who have worked in the food industry for over 60 years, cooking and eating hearty home cooked food has always been a way of life. He flipped his first pancake at 4 years old. When others were out playing sports, he was on the bus every Saturday, to purchase the ingredients to make dishes from the book, Encyclopedia of Chinese Cookery, a gift from his grandmother. Donal’s popular food blog, “The Good Mood Food Blog”, received the award for Best Irish Food Blog in 2009. Today, Donal is an international best-selling author with 6 cookbooks to date which have been translated in to multiple languages for sale across the world.

He has also appeared on numerous TV programmes, such as BBC’s #1 rated cooking show Saturday Kitchen, and has judged on BBC’s Junior MasterChef. Other highlights include NBC’s The Today Show, RTE One’s 4Live, and popular Irish talk shows like The Ray D’Arcy Show. His Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat accounts engage over half a million fans through its exciting and dynamic content, and his YouTube channel, launched in 2014, boasts over 700,000 subscribers. He was nominated for a 2015 Shorty Award for “Best In Food on Social Media,” and is a member of the highly respected group of food writers, The Irish Food Writers Guild.  

All the above images credit to Donal Skehan

Our Parenting World – OPW Media team is pleased to be able to interview Celebrity Chef, Donal Skehan where he shared about his new show, his passion for cooking, juggling with parenthood, career and more with us. 

Exclusive Interview with Celebrity Chef, Donal Skehan

1. Please share with us more about your background and what sparked your interest in cooking?

Interest in cooking came from my parents. My mom was the great cook in our family. My dad worked in food, so while I was doing my homework, he was ordering palettes of potatoes and strawberries and all sorts of things, so it was something I grew up with while I was doing my homework. My grandmother is a fantastic cook so she taught my mom. Food blogging is how I got started. I had worked in a restaurant in Sweden and I came back from that and was like I need to start a food blog. I started it because I was completely bored in the job I was working. I was working in a music TV station and writing showbiz gossip so I started food blogging just as a way to kind of have time to do something more interesting. The food blog went to the books, the books went on to TV and TV has rolled ever since. That’s how I started.

2. How and where did you get your inspiration to come up with the recipes for your cookbooks, television shows and social media?

Travel is the biggest. And now more than ever, it’s like convenience of how we make food for dinner. Like what sorts of ingredients do we have in the store, stuff you can you get from supermarkets and a lot of my recipes have been like accessible. Have always been kind of like stuff people can do. So I think more now than ever and especially with this new series, is trying to kind of lean into that a bit more to try and make sure that people understand that they can definitely do it. And that’s probably why we’ve had such a great reaction to this TV series –  Meals in Minutes.

3. What are some of your own favourite recipes that are easy and fast to prepare for busy parents?

The fast one and the most popular one from the show, and the one I make all the time is this garlic and rosemary chicken where you pan-fry the chicken. You pan-fry the chicken, you add garlic and rosemary to the pan, you get that nice and aromatic and then you add cherry tomatoes to the pan, which creates a lovely sauce, and you add gnocchi cooked straight from the pot. Strained and put straight into the pan and a little bit of the starchy water with the tomatoes makes this gorgeous creamy sauce. You get perfectly cooked chicken because the liquid kind of helps to steam the chicken. It just works extremely well. Top it with some basil, pecorino cheese, boom! All ready.

4. Can you share with us more about your latest show and book: Meals in Minutes?

I mentioned a little about it earlier already (in Qn 2). At the end of every episode we also do a 5 minute meal challenge. And while I don’t suggest you run around the kitchen like a headless chicken, I do think it demonstrates just how easy you can pull together meals. I don’t think everyone’s going to cook in 5 minutes, but I do think it shows that if you simplify the way you look at cooking and how you use the equipment and how you use the time, it just shows that you can actually achieve quite a lot and still add quite a lot of flavor to the dishes you do in a very short amount of time.

There’s also a really great recipes for a ChimmiChurri steak. It’s a very thin steak, it cooks in like 2 minutes on the pan, you then griddle up some baby gem lettuce and some spring onions and in the time that that’s cooking, you can make up a ChimmiChuri sauce. Really easy to make, flavorful, booming with spice and herbs and then you serve it up, slice your steak, add it to the plate, drizzle with the ChimmiChuri and it is like the most gorgeous thing. And you cheat a little bit because you buy some sun-blushed tomatoes. That’s where a lot of the recipes rely on ingredients like that, that you can pick up from the store. Like a lot of the work has been done for you. Like if you want, you can roast off tomatoes and it’ll look really nice, but if you want to cheat, there’s a lot of options for that too.

5. As a busy dad, can you share with us how do you cope with parenthood, your career and also prepare quick, healthy meals for your family?

It’s a tricky balance and it’s something that is constantly a bit of a balancing act because you have to find the time to try to fit it all in. It’s like right now, when I’m travelling, you kind of have to step away and just say “that’s not going to happen right now” and be okay with that. I think that’s more often with me, like I’m the perfectionist and I want everything to work really well but I have to step back a little bit and not be so demanding on myself. And not so demanding on our time when we have down time because I think that’s when you run yourself to the ground. Definitely I’ve been more mindful to take time out when I have the time. So at the end of this trip, I’m going to properly take 2 or 3 days with just family and take some time off and like meditate, do some yoga, massage because you need that time to restore. Any busy family knows that. You have to fill your cup up before you can help others. So that’s a really important lesson I’ve learnt.

6. Lastly, what would you like to say to our Singapore audience who is looking forward to watch your latest show?

I hope that it inspires people who have busy lifestyles to get into the kitchen and get cooking. I truly believe that recipes in this show and in the book will get anyone, even the most novice of cook to be able to cook in the kitchen.

Thank you Donal Skehan for taking our interview! 

About the show, each episode will be based on meals that associated with modern-day living – quick meals, leftovers, healthy options – along with lots of tips and tricks from Donal that will definitely come in handy.

New to the series is the 5 Minute Challenge, where Donal introduces us his 5-minute meals, proving that with good planning and the right ingredients, a tasty meal can be achievable in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Meanwhile, consultant Dietitian, Paula Mee will break down every meal by giving its nutritional facts. This way, you can easily make informed choices about your diet; forming healthy cooking and eating habits will no longer be rocket science. You can catch the Asia premiere of Meals in Minutes (Series 1) on Saturday, 11 May 2019 at 7.45pm, exclusively on BBC Lifestyle (StarHub Channel 432). Watch the series on BBC Player where Donal Skehan will be sharing with easy recipes and time saving tips on how to cook healthy, delicious meals in just minutes!  

For programme highlights and reviews, telecast times, links to BBC Apps, fun quizzes and more, please visit http://www.bbcasia.com/

For all things social: Facebook: @BBCPlayer #BBCPlayer #BBCPlayerSG

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