A new restaurant in the recently refurbished Castlemartyr Resort brings age-old French cooking methods together with an Asian influence and Irish ingredients. We talk to chef patron Vincent Crepel about his vision for this corner of Cork.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2022 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in December of 2022.
Chef Vincent Crepel started his career in France and has worked in several renowned international restaurants, from the three-Michelin-starred Arzak, in San Sebastián, Spain, and Restaurant André, in Singapore, to the historic Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, in Crissier, Switzerland. Now Crepel is bringing his wealth of creative culinary experience to what promises to be a unique dining experience.
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He recently opened Terre – his first restaurant in Ireland – in the seventeenthcentury manor house of Castlemartyr Resort, in Co. Cork. At Terre, Crepel will introduce his guests to a modern and immersive dining experience.
“Since I have come here and seen the beautiful green fields and spectacular coastline, I have felt a connection with the people, the land, the energy from the sea, and find it very inspiring. I hope to bring our guests on a special journey, showcasing the highest-quality ingredients, carefully sourced for my personal vision of a modern restaurant experience,” he says.
Crepel uses age-old French cooking methods coupled with a strong Asian influence, drawn from his time working there.
“My food is rooted in classical French technique, yet alive with the bright, exciting flavours of Asia,” he says.
The focus on the purity and flavour of quality ingredients is complemented by a drinks and wine list that features family-owned grower-producers using minimal intervention methods when producing biodynamic and organic wines.
Vincent, tell us about your background – where you grew up, studied, etc.
I grew up and studied in the South of France.
What first drew you to food and cooking?
I wanted to do something that had meaning, and I think cooking can be great for expressing emotions.
When did you first realise that you wanted to do this professionally?
When I was about 18, working as a kitchen porter in France.
What was your first big role?
In 2014, when I opened my own restaurant in Paris, Porte 12.
What was that like?
It was intense, but a great learning curve.
How has the move to Ireland been?
Ireland is very different to Paris, but in a good way. I love the wild landscape, and that is what inspired a lot of Terre.
Tell us about Terre – the ethos, food, service, etc.
A unique dining experience, with a focus on warm hospitality and superb produce.
What is the food ethos of Terre?
I use classic French techniques to underpin exciting Asian flavours in my dishes.
How will it fit within Castlemartyr?
It is not something that will fit into the hotel. It’s separate, and a completely different experience/offering – a unique one.
What makes a great restaurant?
A great team.
How are Irish people different as customers?
Irish customers are more open to trying and discovering new cuisine, and super-friendly.
What are the changing trends in hospitality – people’s expectations, new elements, etc.?
The whole industry is constantly changing. We are always having to adapt – to nature, to suppliers, ingredients.
What are the major challenges at the moment?
Losing people in the industry. It’s a tough industry to be in, due to the pandemic, but if you are surrounded by a great team, which we are, it’s fantastic to be a part of.
What are the main opportunities?
To put Cork suppliers and producers on the map, and I feel it is the perfect location for what we are trying to achieve with Terre.
Do you think that the pandemic has changed what we look for in hospitality?
Yes, as people were restricted in being able to have experiences to look forward to, and now are more appreciative than ever of being able to dine out.
Any other plans on the horizon for the next year or so?
In the next year, I would like to see our on-site garden 100% sufficient, so we can use 95% of the ingredients in our dishes. At the moment, we are just getting started with it.