My Weekend: Food really does bring so much joy... I love cooking for people

Being around that kitchen table, sharing food is one of life’s most simple and beautiful pleasures, so says head chef at the Metropole Hotel Cork, Trevor O’Keeffe, who tells us how he likes to spend his downtime
My Weekend: Food really does bring so much joy... I love cooking for people

Trevor O'Keeffe

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Trevor O’Keeffe. I was born in Croom in County Limerick and I now live with my wife Kimie and my 18-month-old daughter, Emica in the beautiful town of Killarney, Co Kerry.

I am working as the head chef in the Metropole in Cork city. Prior to the Metropole, I was the head chef in Olivo Italian Restaurant in the Cork Airport Hotel which is in the same hotel group as the Metropole — Trigon Hotels.

I have been really proud to enter many culinary competitions and made it to a number of finals with my vegan dishes. My culinary style is very much influenced by Asian cuisine.

At the moment, I am working with my team in the Metropole to create a rooftop herb garden which I hope will be flourishing next year.

I love my career, it has brought me to some incredible places, including Western Australia and Edinburgh in Scotland before finally settled with my wife back in Killarney.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

As a chef, my Fridays are always spent managing a busy pass, in the Metropole but I love the high adrenaline and the buzz that comes with that. I really enjoy chatting to restaurant diners and hotel guests to ensure that they enjoy the experience.

Although during the Lockdown phase of Covid-19 when our hotel was closed, I did get to spend some unexpected time at home. I enjoyed the time so much with my family and on Friday evenings, my wife and I used to spend it making sushi, savouring some great wine and indulging in a movie afterwards with our feet up.

Lie-ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

I have an 18-month-old, so even if I wanted a lie-in, there wouldn’t be a hope. But even with that being said, I’m a morning person so I always get up at 6.30am.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

As a chef in the hospitality industry, work is busiest at weekends. There is a lot of work with menu planning, ordering of stock, managing rosters and the team, and then the main service. But I do love it and so I would not change a thing.

My weekend is Monday and Tuesday which I see as a treat as most people are back to work then.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break?

If money was no object and if there wasn’t travel restrictions it would have to be Kyoto in Japan. The food, the people, the ambience and experience are simply incredible. It is a place that will never cease to amaze me and I will never tire of it.

The woodland of Killarney National Park. Trevor loves to spend time in the park, on his day off.
The woodland of Killarney National Park. Trevor loves to spend time in the park, on his day off.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I‘m really fortunate to be living in Killarney which is known for its beauty. I spend a lot of time in Killarney National Park — either for a run by myself or a walk with my family. Being in nature has an incredibly calming effect after being in a busy bustling kitchen after the weekend.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

On my days off, I love spending time with my wife and daughter. I do try and spend as much time as I can with them as small children grow up so quickly, I don’t want to miss those important moments. I also enjoy catching up with friends over coffee or a bite to eat.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I am a huge music fan. I enjoy listening to all types of music and I also play the keyboard — not that I’ll be winning any awards but I do enjoy it. I also have a love for DJing (at home) — I could be called a ‘Bedroom DJ’.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I think it comes with being in the hospitality industry but I love to entertain. I really love to cook for people as food really does bring so much joy. Being around that kitchen table, sharing food is one’s of life’s most simplest and beautiful pleasures. My favourite dish to cook is Cured Trout with a wasabi cream — I love it so much that I have it as my signature dish in the Metropole.

I also love to cook wholesome comforting food at home like Carbonara or a delicious Cottage Pie — really perfect at this time of the year.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go-to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

For my caffeine fix, it has got to be Cork Coffee Roasters. A lunch treat for me is Sultan Delight. They do great specials and have incredible aroma and flavour.

For dinner, I love the Glass Curtain. They are really pushing the boundaries with amazing menus, flavours and ingredients.

Sunday night comes around too fast ... how do you normally spend it?

Sunday night or Super Sunday as I like to call it is my Friday. By Sunday evening, I am beginning my days off so I like to relax with my family and enjoy some TV and a good movie.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Even though I am usually off on a Monday, my alarm still goes off at 6.30am. I love to get up early to enjoy the day in it’s fullest.

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