Martin Shanahan – Judging Panel
Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy Fame was Ireland's entry in The Celtic Cook off 2011, which took place at our hotel in West Cork. This year, Martin will be returning to the Celtic Cook Off, which again will be taking place here at the West Cork Hotel, but he joins our judging panel.
Martin Shanahan, raised in Fermoy, North Cork, learned to cook in Rockwell College, before securing a placement in the Butler Arms in Waterville, County Kerry. It was here at the Butler Arms where many of his skills were honed and refined, and where his appreciation for using locally produced fresh food developed "The Butler Arms was really built on the standard of its food, and people came for the food, which was all sourced locally. We had guys growing vegetables locally, and the meat and fish was all local, with a lot of guys turning up at the back door, with a load of lobsters, or crabs, and for me this was where it all fell into place."
In the 1980s Martin's cooking relocated him to San Francisco and it is here that his love of fish cookery intensified, and it was upon returning from San Francisco that Martin and his wife, Marie, set up the original Kinsale Gourmet Store, a fish shop and deli.
After seven years as fish retailers in the Gourmet Store, Martin opened up the first Fishy Fishy in the Guardwell in Kinsale. "We had room for about 20 seats, and we did simple things - fish and chips; open prawn sandwiches, and would cook anything on the fish counter." The new Fishy Fishy restaurant, as it is today, was opened in 2006 and although seats many more than the original, Martin and his team have continue with the ethos of using and cooking local, fresh, seasonal fish served in an informal context, with staff who take real pride in their work. "Fish is nature's fast food. It is a gift, not a commodity, and deserves our respect", is the way Martin has always explained the philosophy behind his business.
In 2009 the television series, "Martin's Mad About Fish" was filmed and such was its success that it spawned a second series in 2011, "Martin's Still Mad About Fish", both series were filmed for RTE Cork. As well as his hit Television series, Martin also has produced three successful cookery books, "Irish Seafood Cookery" and "The Seafood Lover's Cookbook", both written with Sally McKenna, and in 2011, "Martin's Fishy Fishy Cookbook", which fast became a best-seller.
"Fish is so intriguing, so fascinating, so colourful" says Martin, "even in its raw state. It's a chef's dream to cook fish, so you want to introduce it to everyone you can, and I love to have the opportunity to do that with people. There's a multitude of fish varieties, and just a couple of simple ways of cooking them to enjoy them at their best."