Chef Luke Kyle is someone with some serious credibility when it comes to authentic (and new) Irish cuisine. He grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, one of seven children. His culinary memories focus on two key concepts: fresh, local ingredients and the importance of sharing meals as a family. “When I was growing up, the milkman dropped pints off every morning from a farm up the street. We knew the local butcher and the local baker. And, every night, we had dinner together at half past five.” After moving with his family to the United States at age 12, Luke discovered baffling versions of what was called “Irish” food. “I never ate corned beef and cabbage until I moved here,” he says with a laugh.
The Full Whack
These days, Kyle is co-owner and executive chef of two Twin Cities’ restaurants – Anchor Fish & Chips and farm-to-table concept The Draft Horse, which operates in connection with the FOOD building. The Anchor is a fully authentic “fish & chipper” with a weekend Irish breakfast that includes The Full Whack: two eggs, rashers, bangers, black & white pudding, potato bread, grilled tomato & mushrooms and Heinz® beans. The Draft Horse focuses on the sort of fresh and local foods Kyle enjoyed back home at family dinners, including comfort food like chicken, vegetable and short rib pot pies and the sort of high-quality, slow-roasted meats that were the centerpiece of “Sunday Roast” dinners of his youth.
What to serve on March 17
How is Luke preparing his menu for St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday during which U.S. consumers spend nearly $4 billion, and during which one-third of us find time to celebrate at a bar or restaurant? The answer: not at all. “We don’t really vary our menus for it,” he admits. When asked how an operator might serve truly authentic Irish dishes, Kyle has some suggestions. “We don’t really eat much corned beef in Ireland, but good, grassfed roasted lamb would be served at special-occasions.”
What to serve with the lamb? “Potatoes, of course,” Kyle says. “The Irish love their potatoes, and with any traditional meal you’ll probably have potatoes done at least three ways.” Potatoes Colcannon is one of his favorites. “You can mash the potatoes with any vegetable. It’s traditionally made with cabbage, but you could try leeks or kale, too. That way, you can get in that bit of ‘green’ customers expect, but keep things more authentic, too.”