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Aishling Moore Of Goldie On Her Love For Cork

By Robert McHugh
Aishling Moore Of Goldie On Her Love For Cork

Robert McHugh speaks to Aishling Moore, owner of Goldie, ‘a little restaurant in the big heart of Cork City.

Aishling Moore, owner of Goldie restaurant, in Cork, was recently crowned Best Chef at the all-Ireland final of the Irish Restaurant Awards 2024.

Born in Cork, Moore became head chef at the established Elbow Lane Brew & Smoke House when she was only 23. Moore opened her own restaurant, Goldie, in 2019 and has won critical acclaim for her creativity and novel approach to cooking. She is also a published author, and her book – Whole Catch – is a must-read for those with a passion for seafood.

Moore spoke to Hospitality Ireland recently about her new award, her approach to sustainability, and her love for Cork.

You were recently crowned All-Ireland Best Chef at the Irish Restaurant Awards 2024. How does it feel to win such an honour?

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It is a personal award that you accept on behalf of a team. There are ten staff [members] that work with me in Goldie every day. It would not be possible without them. They make it all happen, really.

It is great to attract attention to Cork. There are so many great restaurants in Cork, and so many great chefs.

Tell us about the ethos at Goldie.

We are a seafood restaurant. Whatever is around dictates what is on the menu. We change our menu every day, and sometimes we change our menu throughout the service. We change the species of fish that we are serving.

We have local shellfish growers on the menu – local vegetable and fruit growers. We try to buy as much from our local area as possible, which has been getting more and more difficult. The weather in the last two years has caused supplies to arrive much later. It has been more difficult to get certain things, like Irish potatoes. Those are some of the challenges.

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We are 95% seafood, but we have a chicken and vegetarian option on the menu for people who are not into seafood. We have an à-la-carte menu that ranges between snacks, small plates, main courses, sides and desserts.

We have an open kitchen, so that’s really fun and interactive. People can see what we are doing, and we can see what is going on in the dining room, which is always lovely, from a trust perspective.

Can you tell me a little bit about your own background, where you grew up, and where you studied?

I am from South Douglas Road, in Cork City. That is where I grew up.

I studied in NTU, which was CIT at the time, and had a great education there. During that time, I was working for Kate Lawlor in No. 5 Fenn’s Quay restaurant.

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I then went to work in Elbow Lane [Brew & Smoke House]. I worked there for three years, and that was just before we opened Goldie. My current business partners were my then employers when I was working in Elbow Lane.

The opportunity to open Goldie came up about five years ago. We opened in September 2019. It was not long before Covid. It was difficult, but we used the time as best we could. Very few people open a business and then get six months to reflect on things. Obviously, it was a stressful time, but it was really helpful for me to figure out what we were doing and where we were going. In the first six months of a restaurant, you can barely figure out where to put the plates!

What do you consider your first major role?

When I was the head chef in Elbow Lane. I was 23.

What do you enjoy most about your job, presently?

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I like collaborating with the other chefs and figuring out what is going to be on the menu – also, the relationships that we have built up with our regular customers.

It is the ultimate compliment to have regular customers come in every week – sometimes twice a week. That reaffirms that we are doing something right – when people keep coming back to you.

What makes a great restaurant?

The culture of the restaurant, and the interactions between the kitchen and the front of house.

We have an open kitchen. We do not really have a back area. We are all front of house, which I really like. When you come in, you can really feel that. Happy people make happy food!

What do you think are the main challenges in the industry at the moment?

Food security as a whole in Ireland. We are producing very little of the food that we are actually eating. That can be quite worrying.

Rising prices, although, that has slightly levelled off. It is not as bad as it was a year ago. It is challenging to be in any business at the moment. We are just trying to offer the best-possible product, at the best-possible price, while making sure that we are taking care of everybody who is working with us.

It is really important to me that we are supporting the local economy around us as well.

What do you think are the main opportunities in the industry at the moment?

There is so much interest in hospitality now. There are plenty of opportunities for travel, pop-ups and events.

I think it is a really exciting time to be in the food business in Ireland. You can see many chefs who went abroad and are now coming back to Ireland. It just really speaks to how high the standards are.

In Cork City, we are experiencing the tourism season. It started early, and it is very busy already. There are really exciting things happening.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

I walk my dog. I try to eat out in restaurants as much as I can. I visit bakeries and food producers, that kind of thing.

I have worked a lot in the last five years, but I take the opportunity to travel any chance that I get.

What will be the next chapter for Goldie?

We want to continue what we are doing. In September, we will be five years in business. We are improving every day. That is my main goal – to continue improving customer experience and the staff experience.

I want to offer food that I feel like I can stand behind in the city where I am from.

What is your favourite food?

Oysters.

What is your favourite drink?

Barry’s Tea.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

I had a really great time in Lisbon the last time I was there. I look forward to going back.

Name one thing that you always have in your fridge.

Butter.