Photo shoot.

Alex Meehan. Photograph: ©Fran Veale

It’s well known that most journalists are fiercely self conscious and I’m no different. I don’t particularly like being photographed, but sometimes it’s good to do things that are a bit scary.

So a recent commission for the Sunday Independent on raw selvedge jeans came up and the editor asked me to get photographed. I’ve never been professionally shot before, so it seemed like a good opportunity. The awesome Fran Veale came out and did his thing, and these were the results.

The copyright in these belongs to The Sunday Independent and Fran but I asked nicely and they’ve let me use a few for online purposes as they’re not really commercial in nature. Thanks guys!

Shouting at buses

I have an advert running on Facebook and Instagram at the moment. I take these out once or twice a year to help promote my martial arts school. It’s an amateur affair but I like to think we punch above our weight in terms of marketing and so on – I’m lucky to have some really talented people who train with me and occasionally help out with their professional skills.

The results are that we have really good photography and graphics – it helps make us look more professional than maybe we really are. It’s still an amateur affair. 

Online ads are a mixed bag. It’s highly debatable that they draw people in, but other than the old fashioned practice of putting flyers on lampposts, it’s actually quite hard to spread the word about a club like mine. You go where the audience is, and in this case, the demographic of people who take up martial arts is predominantly online.

I spend around €100, targeted down to men and women between 18 and 40 within commutable distance of where we’re based in Harold’s Cross. For this money, I typically get a reach of around 13,500 people, and 52 of those clicked the link and of those, around 11 people out of all those people actually clicked the button and got in touch.

So yeah, that’s not a great result. 

The reason I’m writing about this is that there is another effect that happens when you run ads like this. Because we’re pushing our ‘messaging’ in front of people who haven’t gone looking for it, we get unsolicited feedback. And it’s not always pleasant.

Last week, I got three unpleasant messages. One guy accused us/me of being a conman, ripping people off. I’m not sure what his logic was – we actually offer a very competitive and substantial package of training. Whatever. That’s what the delete button is for. A second guy left two comments in quick succession, this time criticizing the training methodology Japanese martial arts use and have used for 500 years. Again, out with the ban hammer.

So, 13,500 people saw this ad, and a total of two people left negative feedback. This is the problem with ads – instead of people coming looking for us, we go out and push our message in front of people. A certain percentage aren’t interested, and hopefully our ads aren’t so intrusive that they’re annoyed by them.

Another percentage never knew we existed but are interested in martial arts, so that our ads could actually be a service to them. They’re the people we want to connect with.

Then there are the others. The troubled ones. I can’t really understand these people because I don’t feel the need to snipe and criticize others online. If I did have a problem with someone or something, I’d connect with them personally and put my issue to them. 

I wouldn’t do the digital equivalent of standing on the street, shouting at passing buses.

Anyway, if you’d like to take up a martial art, we’re taking students in from August 31st. Check it out at

Whatever happened to Blackberry?

I loved my Blackberry Pearl. It was the first consumer device that was directly targeted at consumers with a usable e-mail function, and as a self employed freelancer, it was incredibly liberating to have always on access to e-mail.

I also remember my first iPhone. Either an iPhone 3 or an iPhone 3GS – I’m no longer entirely sure. I do remember clearly however getting the device and very quickly wondering had I made a terrible mistake. The virtual on-screen keyboard seemed unusable and I recall a sinking feeling as I tried to use it and realised I’d signed up to an 18 month contract with this device. So I had no choice, I had to get used to it.

But get used to it I did, like pretty much everyone else. If you’re curious what happened exactly to RIM and it’s Blackberry platform, this recently released documentary on Youtube is excellent. Get a cup of coffee and enjoy.

Lockdown 2020

This blog hasn’t been updated in around five years. Time flies. This week, I was able to re-register my name as a domain. I used to own it many years ago but lost it when I didn’t pay the fees in time to retain it.

So the moral of the story – don’t put these things off.

Anyway, I’ve got it back, and that’s led to me sprucing up this site.

Like everyone else, I’m currently on week three of corona virus isolation, with the result that I have a little more time on my hands. I’ll try to upload some content here over the next few days. We’ll see what happens.

Spare a thought . . .

Spare a thought for all the chefs out there – tomorrow is Michelin Day – so this is like the day before their leaving cert results. Except they have to do it every year.BIB-white-profileI’ve worked with a few different chefs that hold or have held Michelin stars. They’re all quite different except in one regard – they’re extremely driven people. They literally live in their kitchens and their lives have been completely rearranged with the goal of producing the best possible food they can. Not everyone ‘gets’ that, and that’s fine.

To some people food is fuel. They have a few favourite dishes but basically they don’t understand or get fine dining or high end restaurants. They’re not wrong – it’s a highly personal thing. You either appreciate food as art or you don’t. I don’t judge – to each their own.

But you can’t deny the work. Even if you think it’s pretentious or elitist or whatever, behind it are squads of people who work harder than literally anyone else I know of (with the possible exception of nurses). The hours are grueling, the conditions harsh, the atmosphere often oppressive and usually most people don’t last.

For those that that do last and continue to work at the top, being recognised by the red book is a life’s ambition. Even then, if you win a star, the pressure starts all over again as you have to keep it the next year. Hard work indeed.

Best of luck to everyone who has had an inspector in, or even more worrying, had several inspectors in over the last year. Hope tomorrow is your day.

Long read: What Ferran did next?


By Alex Meehan. First published in The Sunday Business Post, June 28th, 2015.

It’s a relatively chilly day in April and chef Ferran Adria is walking a group of journalists around the elBulliFoundation buildings in Barcelona. It’s not what you’d expect as the latest expression of creativity from a man who is debatably the world’s greatest chef.

For a start, there is no food to be had and not a stainless steel kitchen surface in sight. Instead, the unassuming second storey industrial space is stuffed with trestle tables and earnest looking young people with fashionable clothes and thick rimmed glasses, tapping away on Apple laptops.

Thick white foam boards divide up the open plan space and are pin-cushioned with cuttings from magazines, books and print-outs from the web. Stick-it notes abound and the atmosphere is more like that of a university than a commercial kitchen. In fact, it feels more like a tech start-up than a culinary institute.

But then what Adria is attempting to do has more in common in terms of ambition with Google or Facebook than it does with his beloved elBulli restaurant – he wants to write the definitive work on food. All food, everywhere and at every point in history. Can it be done? He seems to think it can and if anyone can do it, it’s probably him.

Few people have had as big an impact on their chosen profession as Ferran Adria. Microsoft’s Bill Gates perhaps? Or Apple’s Steve Jobs. But in the world of high end gastronomy, there are few who would begrudge Adria the oft overused title of genius.

This is the man who powdered olive oil, who spherified sauces and who turned food into foam. Most importantly, this is the man who did it first, applying the kind of creativity to food previously reserved for music, painting, literature and art.

While he prefers to call his style of food deconstructionist in nature, he’s most closely associated with the style of cooking known as molecular gastronomy, and it’s difficult to overestimate just how influential it and he have been. Many of the current generation of top chefs spent time under Adria’s tutelage, including Noma’s René Redzepi, Mugaritz’s Andoni Luis Aduriz and Alinea’s Grant Achatz. His influence has travelled past those he’s personally trained as well.

Together with Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck in the UK, Adria is considered the father of modernist cuisine and perhaps the most influential chef alive. His globally famous restaurant, elBulli, held three Michelin stars and regularly either topped San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list or hovered in the top three until abruptly closing its doors in July 2011.

IMG_8274The critics were perplexed – elBulli was only open to the public for six months each year, with the remaining six months dedicated to the research and development of new dishes, but a table here was amongst the most sought after reservations in the culinary world. If you’ve eaten in a high end restaurant in the last five years, the odds are you’ve been served deconstructed dishes created using techniques pioneered by Adria at elBulli.

From meats and fish cooked sous-vide in a vacuum sealed plastic bag to plates garnished with foams, freeze-dried powders, edible flowers or spherified liquids, the Spanish chef’s influence has been far reaching. The techniques he’s credited with popularising, if not outright inventing have changed the face of performance cooking.

Adria is probably best known for two particular techniques — creating edible foams by mixing flavour bases with a stabilising gelling agent such as lecithin that are then forced out of a nitrous oxide syphon to create a stable foam, and the technique of spherification, in which flavoured liquids are mixed with sodium alginate and then dropped into a bath of calcium chloride to create spheres of flavoured liquid resembling caviar. Both techniques are now found in restaurants all over the world.

However, he’s also credited with popularising the use of fluid gels using different gelling agents to create edible gels that are stable either cold or hot, as well as researching new thickening and emulsification agents that change the texture of food without affecting its flavour for use in professional kitchens.

In 2010, Ferran Adria and his brother Albert taught a culinary physics course entitled ‘Science and Cooking’ at Harvard University in the USA. A meal at elBulli was a dinner to boast about. Bookings were taken on one day each year for the following year, with only 8,000 seats available at an average price of €250 per diner.

The restaurant reportedly received more than two million requests for reservations each year, generating a respectable €2 million in revenue. Why close such a wildly successful restaurant at the peak of its success and influence?

According to Adria, the restaurant itself apparently ran at a considerable loss – it employed over 40 chefs and while the business behind it made a profit, this mostly came from elBulli related books, catering products and personal appearances and lectures given by Adria, who the New York Times reported gets around €80,000 for an hour long lecture on creativity.

Aged just 53, the entire gastronomic world asked themselves the question ‘what will Adria do now?’ While he surely has little left to prove behind a stove, the answer has still taken many observers by surprise. His latest venture is the elBulliFoundation, a kind of umbrella vehicle for a few distinctly different projects.

The first is the reinvention of the former elBulli restaurant. Currently being remodelled and scheduled for a 2017 reopening, it is to be rebranded elBulli 1846—named for the number of original dishes created at the elBulli restaurant — and will function, we are told, as a cultural and educational centre rather than a restaurant.

The second and potentially most interesting is Bullipedia, a vehicle Adria has created to bridge the worlds of academia, science and knowledge acquisition with cooking and the art to be found in high end kitchens. The end goal is to create a repository of information on food and creativity and to refine and codify a new way of researching and categorising knowledge that Adria calls ‘sapiens’.

And as a proof of concept, the first subject matter to be tackled using the sapiens methodology is food. Right now, his team is mostly concerned with writing a series of books on food, producing work, he says, at the rate of one whole book’s worth a day.

Adria champions the creativity that is often attributed to cooking but which actually is rarely there. The majority of chefs are craftsmen rather than artists – their skills lie in reproducing things that other people have created. True creativity is something different, he believes:
“Although I could create a new dish with this tomato, it isn’t possible to create a new tomato.”

When the project is complete, the sum total of the group’s research and methodologies will all be published online for free, available as a resource forever but it will also be sold as an old fashioned set of books, a kind of Encyclopedia Britannica for the world of food.

In one corner of the Barcelona offices, staff members are cataloguing different styles of place settings, while an extensive library of cook books stands as testament to the internationality of the project. Books are organised by country – the only Irish entry on display is Colman Andrew’s Country Cooking of Ireland – and in a side area an impressive selection of Dom Perignon vintage bottles and labels are being studied.

“There is no definitive reference on champagne production and no catering college teaches this. There is nobody to teach it, because those that know it are busy working for the top champagne houses. So we are gathering their knowledge to make it available in catering schools around the world,” says Adria.

If the elBulliFoundation sounds difficult to understand, that’s because it is. Right now it’s impossible to assess just how significant its projects will prove to be, but what isn’t in doubt is that significant resources are being used to create it.

Adria has signed deals with a number of large corporate backers, in return for lending them his personal credibility and making himself available for commercial endorsements. He is a brand ambassador for Telefonica and has also worked with brewing company Estrella to bring his elBulli-created beer Inedit to a wider audience. It was recently launched in Ireland, retailing at around €8 for a 75cl bottle.

And then there are those lectures on creativity. On the day we meet in Barcelona, he spends the morning giving such a lecture, starting by addressing the room while holding a tomato and asking us the seemingly rhetorical question “what is this? Is it a natural product?”

Someone in the assembled crowd replies “only if it’s organic.” The answer seems self-evident, but only if you don’t think like Adria.

“Most people would say a fresh tomato is natural,” he says. “But the tomato has been domesticated by man, it’s the least natural thing in the world. A natural tomato does exist in the Andes but it’s inedible, it’s disgusting. Your preconceptions about what is natural are false.”

He continues. “What about a jar of tomato sauce from the supermarket? Would you use that at home? If you consider yourself a cook probably not. But you will use olive oil and dried pasta? What’s the difference?”

It’s this kind of thinking that has informed Adria’s entire career. What other people took for granted, he questioned. Just because something has always been done one way, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way, or at the very least another and potentially more interesting way of doing it.

But if you never ask, you never know.

From dishwasher to top chef
Born in Barcelona in May 1962, Ferran Adria started his career in cooking like many before him and since — up to his elbows in hot soapy water.

A summer job washing dishes in a French restaurant in the Hotel Playafels in Castelldefels, Spain, quickly led to a job as an apprentice chef, and it was here that he first had his imagination fired by just how good the local cuisine of Barcelona and its surroundings could be.

He worked and travelled from Spain to Ibiza before being obliged to do military service with the Spanish navy, working as a cook. When he returned to civilian life at the age of 22, he applied to do a stage (unpaid trial) at a small but well regarded restaurant called El Bulli, in the remote coastal town of Roses around two hours north of Barcelona.

El Bulli was opened in 1964 by German Dr Hans Schilling and his Czech wife Marketa, and named after their pet bulldogs. It achieved success as a French restaurant long before Adria set foot there, albeit with a reputation for a different kind of cuisine. It was awarded a Michelin star in 1976, and when Adria joined in 1983 he was very much a junior. He managed to turn his stage into a full time job as a chef de partie, or junior line chef, and it wasn’t long until his talent and unique acumen shone through.

He was encouraged to travel and broaden his culinary palate see what was happening elsewhere in Europe, and he spent a significant period working with renowned chefs in France before returning to be made head chef in 1987. It was around this time,that he started to experiment with the chemistry of food, re-examining dogmatic ideas about cooking techniques and applying a degree of scientific rigour to the chemical changes that the organic compounds in food undergo when cooked.

While he wasn’t the first to do this – Harold McGee’s seminal work on this subject ‘On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen’ was first published in 1984 – Adria applied a degree of flair and creativity to his cooking that won acclaim all around the world. El Bulli’s second Michelin star arrived in 1990 with a third coming in 1997, and it was first voted to the top of Restaurant Magazine’s World’s 50 Best List in 2002. It held that position on five separate occasions.

Panel out – Dining out in Barcelona today
ElBulli might be closed but it’s still possible to sample some of the magic that went on there. Ferran Adria’s brother – and culinary star in his own right – Albert Adria operates five restaurants in Barcelona. He was the pastry chef at elBulli until 2006 , and the rigourous discipline and attention to detail required to fill that position now finds its expression in his efforts to turn a small area of Barcelona into what he terms “a culinary theme park”.

All of the restaurants can be found within walking distance of the Plaça d’Espanya end of Barcelona’s main arterial road Gran Via. The most celebrated is the contemporary tapas restaurant Tickets, opened in 2010 and awarded its first Michelin star in 2014.

The food here is highly creative, served in a space reminiscent of a Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The dessert room in particular is kitted out with oversized cartoon strawberries hanging from the ceiling. Dessert here is a particular treat – Albert Adria was declared the world’s best pastry chef in the recently announced World’s 50 Best Restaurant’s awards.

Bodega 1900 is an old fashioned tapas restaurant, with only a few nods towards the techniques used to build the Adria name – it features hanging hams, nautical interior décor and perfect execution of Catalonian classics like snow crab on toast, tomato salad, salted prawns and Iberico ham croquettes.

Pakta is a fusion restaurant serving a hybrid cuisine bringing together Japanese and Peruvian cooking, served in a small restaurant kitted out to perfectly mesh Japanese aesthetics with South American flair. It describes its food as ‘nikkei’ in style, referring to the name Japanese people use for emigrants of Japanese descent who have settled elsewhere. Pakta holds a Michelin star.

Hoja Santa is a Mexican haute cuisine restaurant, the big brother of the groups less formal Nino Viejo restaurant, specialising in tacos and botanas, a kind of Mexican snack or appetiser.

Albert Adria will be a speaker at the upcoming Food on the Edge symposium to be held in Galway on October 19 and 20 this year. For more information, visit

Book review: Becoming Steve Jobs, by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli


By Alex Meehan. First published in The Sunday Business Post, May 24th, 2015.

When it comes to Apple there are two kinds of people – those who ‘get’ the company and those who think the other kind have been indoctrinated into a cult.

If you think that Apple fans are irrational in their love for what is, after all, a commercial entity then you probably think that Steve Jobs was every bit as messed up as his personal myth suggests. An unpleasant control freak who fathered a child and — even after a DNA test confirmed his parentage — refused for years to have anything to do with them.

Someone who could be an arrogant bully and ruthless when it came to using those around him and discarding them as soon as his interest waned.

But those who ‘get’ Apple largely appreciate that while Steve Jobs was a flawed human being, he nevertheless had a colossal effect on the way millions of people around the world live their lives, debatably more so than anyone else in his industry.

Becoming Steve Jobs is the second but by far the most interesting major biography of Jobs to appear since he died in 2011. The first, Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs,’ was authorised by Jobs himself but was largely disappointing. While Isaacson got hours of personal interviews with his subject and was reportedly told that his un-vetted book should be a warts and all dissection of Jobs’ life, it failed to get under the skin of why Jobs and his company have endured.

In contrast, Becoming Steve Jobs delivers in spades what Isaacson’s significantly thicker work didn’t. In particular people interested in the intersection between Job’s personality — his strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures – and the success of his company will find this a fascinating read.

Whereas Apple design guru Jony Ive didn’t take part in Isaacson’s book and was subsequently quoted as saying his regard “couldn’t be lower” for the book, he was extensively interviewed for Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s book, as was Tim Cook, Bill Gates and Job’s widow Laurene Powell Jobs.

The resulting book has as good a claim as any to be a semi-official official Apple-endorsed account of its founder’s life and influence on the company. Schlender and Tetzeli trace Jobs’ life, starting with his pivotal early relationship with initial Apple partner Steve Wozniak and their first meeting in 1971 to the creation of the first Apple computer in 1976 in the Jobs’ family Palo Alto garage.

From there, the book covers the major episodes in Jobs career and life, from Apple’s earliest days to Job’s early mistakes and steep learning curve as a business leader, culminating in his notorious sacking from the company he helped found in 1985.

This book goes into much more detail on the founding of NeXT and Job’s acquisition of Pixar in 1986 than Isaacson’s book does, and in the process rounds out the story of how Jobs coped with this period of his life when he seems to have largely felt as if he had been cast into the abyss. His subsequent return to Apple in 1996 is extensively documented, as is the manner in which he brought the company from near bankruptcy to profitability in just two years.

In his second stint at the head of Apple, Jobs oversaw the introduction of the iMac, iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad as well as introducing Apple’s high street network of stores and creating the iTunes store and App store.

At the heart of Schlender and Tatzeli’s book is the central thesis that Jobs was never really about the technology he sold. In particular, once he returned to Apple he cultivated a level of detachment from the company’s products that allowed him to constantly focus on the next thing.

At a time when the IT world was largely obsessed with processor speeds and storage capacity, from the early 1990s onwards, he understood that what really mattered and continues to matter is the user experience. The average person on the street doesn’t care how their car works, or their phone or laptop for that matter — they only care about how easy it is to use, how reliable it is and what it lets them do.

And this is the point that continues to confound those who don’t understand why the general public queues up on launch day to hand over more money than they need to in order to get the latest Apple gadget. Jobs moved the conversation on past the point of technical specifications and humanised the way people interact with the technology around them.

Schlender first met Jobs in 1986 while working as a journalist for The Wall Street Journal covering Silicon Valley. His relationship with him seems to have been at times close but also complex in nature. The two men maintained contact for over twenty years and at times Jobs took a close interest in his family and personal health.

The closing chapters of the book, dealing with Jobs illness and decline make for an emotional read. It’s clear that Schlender regrets some of his interactions with his subject. Becoming Steve Jobs is an important book for the additional light it sheds on Jobs, his company and his life and it seems likely that part of its success is due to the investment its authors have in getting their story right.

No doubting Thomasina

By Alex Meehan. First published in The Sunday Business Post, April 20th, 2014.

Former Masterchef UK winner Thomasina Miers is very far from typical of her peers.

tommiNine years after her 2005 win she’s one of a very small number of people to actually win the competition and then turn that into a successful food career.

The owner of four Mexican-themed restaurants under the Wahaca brand, she’s published books, fronted TV series for Channel Four and is currently organising a chilli festival to be held in the east end of London called Chilli Chilli Bang Bang.

To say the day job fell by the wayside would be an understatement, but Miers is very clear about what Masterchef brings and what it doesn’t.

“Masterchef really helps if you are already on your mission and know what you want,” she says. “But a win doesn’t guarantee you anything.”

By the time Miers was on the show, she says she knew exactly what she wanted out of it and wasn’t starting from scratch.

“I had already spent a year living in Mexico researching Mexican food and was writing my first book, Soup Kitchen. I knew that I wanted to work in food and I was fully on that path.”

“Gregg Wallace and John Torode saw that this was not just a TV show for me. I had food pulsing through my blood. So I think if you are already at that stage then Masterchef can really push you and give you confidence,” she says.

But she says, winning is no guarantee of anything, and the reality is that anyone hoping to turn a win into a career in food still has all their work ahead of them when the show ends.

“The food world is really tough, it is long hours for not much money. It’s physically very demanding,” she says.

Before her stint on Masterchef, Miers had already graduated from the Ballymaloe Cookery School and she credits the experience of studying with the Allens for a large part of her philosophy on food.

“My real start in food came from meeting Clarissa Dickson Wright when I was 26 and was really kind of struggling to know what to do. She found out that I was totally passionate about food and said ‘well that is what you should be working in then if that is where your passion lies’,” says Miers.

“And she said ‘the first place you need to go is Ballymaloe’.”

Dickson Wright was a friend of Darina Allen’s and made the necessary introductions for Miers. She attended for a three month stint and describes the experience as an epiphany.

“I have cooked since I was six but there I learned more than just recipes. They teach a total philosophy about food, about the importance of food ingredients, about the footprint food has on the Earth, about how things are grown and sourced and how food can be eaten in ways that are completely sustainable and holistic,” she says.

“At Ballymaloe all their food waste goes to their chickens, they compost and there is a complete cycle and really that has informed my whole philosophy and that has stayed with me to today.”

According to Miers, all of her Wahaca restaurants recycle their food waste and have done since the first outlet opened in August 2007. She feels so strongly about this approach to handling food waste that late last year she was involved in organising a one-off food event in London – The Pig Idea – to draw attention to a ban on feeding food waste to pigs, a practice as old as porcine domestication.

“We raised eight pigs on Stepney City Farm over last summer and then last November we served five thousand portions of pulled pork, cassoulet and other porky treats in Trafalgar Square with the proceeds from the pigs,” she says.

Behind the event was the urge to do something to help small pig farmers in the UK, many of whom are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet because of legal restrictions in place since the foot and mouth crisis.

Restrictions on the kinds of waste food that can be feed to pigs is leaving farmers having to rely on soy and other vegetable feeds that are more expensive and mostly have to be imported.

The Pig Idea was to let restaurants and supermarkets sell their food waste to processing plants to be heat-treated in large volumes. This could then be safely, cheaply and sustainably fed to pigs.

“Ballymaloe were one of the backers of that initiative, so I’ve stayed in touch with them all the way through,” she says.

Miers’ extracurricular energies are currently focused on her upcoming Chilli Chilli Bang Bang festival, scheduled for May 9th and 10th in Dalston.

Celebrating all things fiery hot, this event involves chef demos, chilli-based street food from around the world, a spice market, a hot sauce deli and chilli tequila cocktails.

“We’re expecting around 5,000 people and we’ll have food from around the world with chilli in it as well as demos from chefs like Giorgio Locatelli, Sam Clark from Moro, Gizzi Erskine, Atul Kochhar – lots of people actually,” she says.

“I also have a new book due out– Chilli Notes – which focuses on chilli recipe from around the world.”

Chilli is an unusual food in that it’s hard to think of another ingredient, with the possible exception of truffles, that gets so fetishised. People can and do spend years developing the perfect chilli recipe and chilli competitions are common in the US.

Miers isn’t surprised by this, insisting that the humble chilli is in a class of its own as an ingredient.

“Well, they are pretty magical fruit. They are an analgesic and anti-diuretic and anti-carcinogenic and of course a good chilli hit releases lots of endorphins so they make you feel good. You get a kind of mini-high,” she says.

“But not only do they make you feel good they are good for you in other ways. If you eat a lot of chillies your metabolism speeds up and generally will work faster and I know some people who advocate them for helping to lose weight,” she says.

“There are over 200 varieties of chillies and they all have different kind of flavours and you can use them either dried or fresh. They are incredibly versatile and in my cooking I like to use them to season food. A bit like black pepper, you can just put a touch of chilli in lots of dishes and it just heightens all the flavours.”

Miers says she would like to open a Wahaca branch in Ireland, but it’s still only a theoretical plan. In the meantime, she will be attending the Ballymaloe Literary Festival in May and intends to make the most of the opportunity to visit a country she says is genuinely amongst her favourite.

“When I lived in Ireland I got pretty stuck in and really loved it. I am absolutely passionate about it and the food culture there, so I try to go back as often as I can, at least once a year.”

Incoming . . .

It’s been a while since this blog was updated so I shall start adding content again from today, starting with some food journalism. Hope you’re hungry.