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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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In Dining

Chef Donnagh Gregson is the owner of the Bunratty Cookery School in County Clare, Ireland.

Celtic Kitchen features Irish chef Donnagh Gregson


This year, there's plenty to look forward to at Milwaukee's Irish Fest, including music from 100 artists, Jameson whiskey flavored Gilles custard, haggis with fried potatoes at McBob's, and the official Irish Fest cocktail, The Mighty Quinn, an old-fashioned using Jameson.

You'll also find the usual (but not particularly traditional) corned beef and cabbage and baked potatoes.

But, for food lovers looking for authenticity, the Celtic Kitchen will be the place to be.

The Kitchen, an area located on the north end of the grounds, will feature food demonstrations that highlight traditional and modern Irish cuisine.

Throughout the weekend Donnagh Gregson, a professionally trained Irish chef, will be offering up knowledge about both traditional and modern cuisine in today's Ireland.

Gregson, whose resume includes experience at AA Rosette as well as numerous Michelin Star restaurants, runs the Bunratty Cookery School, which she founded five years ago in County Clare on the grounds of the Bunratty Castle.

I had an opportunity to pose a few questions to Gregson, who arrived in Milwaukee on Thursday.

OnMilwaukee.com: Have you ever been to Milwaukee before?

Donnagh Gregson: No, I'm so excited about this trip.

OMC: Is there anything you most look forward to doing while you're here?

DG: I really looking forward to trying your food! I always looking for new ideas and I hear you have great produce here too. I'd love to see a baseball game. I've never seen one, and that would be amazing.

OMC: I know you'll be teaching folks about traditional Irish fare. So, what's the biggest misconception about Irish cuisine?

DG: Oh, tough question! Quite a few people have mentioned fish and chips as being traditionally Irish. I hadn't heard that before! And, although we do a great fish and chips, it's more an English thing!

Also it's not just about stew and soda bread. There are amazing restaurants in Ireland. In particular, County Clare food establishments are really standing out for their new ideas. And with the outstanding local produce available it's not surprising. County Clare has the best seafood restaurants -- they are a must for visitors. Also visitors should check the Burren Food Trail for fantastic food events.

OMC: What is it that really distinguishes Irish cuisine from others?

DG: The produce. We are so lucky in Ireland and I've noticed more Irish produce is available over here now too.

OMC: How different is classic Irish cooking from more modern cooking?

DG: Irish chefs are taking influence from all over the world to mix traditional and new ideas. For example I make a soda bread with chocolate. It's kind of my version of the French pan aux chocolate. I'll be making it this weekend.

OMC: What was your mission in starting the Bunratty Cookery School?

DG: I believe everyone can learn to cook and more importantly everyone should learn to cook. It is a skill that they will need all through their life. I wanted to share my passion and experience for food with others.

Gregson's classes at the Celtic Kitchen/Irish Fest include:

  • An afternoon tea experience: Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
  • Bacon and cabbage with champ potatoes and parsley sauce: Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
  • Irish soda bread master class: Saturday at 1 p.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday
  • St. Tola's Goat cheese tart with Cumberland sauce and chili-glazed salmon: Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

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