We need more pollinator gardens and more farmers' markets

Person to Person: A Q&A with GIY chef Jean-Baptiste Dubois
We need more pollinator gardens and more farmers' markets

Jean-Baptiste Dubois, Head Chef Grow of HQ, during a cookery demonstration. Picture: Patrick Browne

Head of Food at GIY, Jean-Baptiste Dubois, who runs the cafe at GROW HQ in Waterford, is passionate about Irish produce and sustainable cooking

TELL us about yourself;

My name is Jean-Baptiste Dubois, everyone calls me JB as not many people are able to pronounce my name correctly.

As my name certainly gives it away, I am French. I moved in Ireland over 20 years ago and worked mainly in 5 and 4 star boutique hotels.

I am the Head of Food for GIY and have run the café at GROW HQ in Waterford since its opening in 2016. I am passionate about Irish produce and about sustainable cooking.

Where were you born?

In Nancy, in the north-east of France.

Where do you live?

I live in Tramore, Co. Waterford, loving the long walks with the dogs on the beach. To live in such a picturesque surrounding is so relaxing and calming, even more after a busy service at GROW HQ.

Family?

Shona, my dear wife, Daisy and Oscar, my two kids.

Best friend?

My wife and partner in life, Shona. We are so similar.

Earliest childhood memory?

My first childhood memory is obviously around the kitchen table, watching my mum cooking leaves of sorrel before she had time to put them in the soup.

Person you most admire?

I would admire anyone who is trying his best at what they are doing. Whatever is the task at hand, I admire someone who would take pride in what they accomplished.

Person who most irritates you?

Certainly Trump, or any chef who is serving chicken with cheese.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

I believe that the political system in Ireland, like everywhere else in the world, is very short-sighted. Political decisions and government expenditure should go towards a more sustainable society. At the moment, the Irish government still subsidise beef farming, while I think it would be more beneficial to help regenerative farming and organic veg growing, which makes more economical and ecological sense.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

Going camping in Brittany as a very young couple with my wife Shona.

Favourite TV programme?

Black Mirror might be one that stuck with me in the last little while.

Favourite radio show?

No favourite radio show.

Your signature dish if cooking?

After cheffing for more than 20 years now, I don’t think that I have a signature dish, but a very strong style of cooking. I love the challenge to use the entire vegetable growing on site at GROW HQ, I am always trying to get closer to the perfect zero waste kitchen. I love north African flavours.

Favourite restaurant?

Being in the business, I do not have a lot of opportunities to eat out. But when I do, it really depends on the mood and occasion. I appreciate well cooked food, fancy or not.

Last book you read?

Being dyslexic, I am not reading a lot or at all. The only books that I open are cookery books.

Best book you read?

Cooking for Kings, biography of the first celebrity chef: Antonin Careme.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

In my younger days, I was big into music, from electro to jazz, but my passion for cooking took over and for the last 20 years I didn’t take time to listen to much music.

One person you would like to see in concert?

My friend Morgan Cooke playing Jacques Brel in O’Connor’s in Salthill.

Do you have a pet?

Three cats and two dogs.

Morning person or night owl?

Both, I always get up early, afraid to miss something important, and go to sleep late to leave some time to relax after a busy day.

Your proudest moment?

Personally, the birth of my first-born Daisy. Professionally, GROW HQ becoming the Irish action hub for the UN-led Chefs Manifesto.

Spendthrift or saver?

Definitely saver, I was lucky that my parents taught me the value of money. And during my career, I was always too busy at work to have time to spend the money that I was earning.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

More pollinator public gardens and more farmers’ market where you can get the best produce straight from the growers.

What makes you happy?

Teaching and passing my knowledge and passion of food to others, particularly to the next generation.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a hard worker and ethical. And I hope that I would be remembered as someone who inspired young chefs to be more sustainable.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Just being the head of food for GIY-GROW HQ and spending time with my wife, two kids and five pets are enough for me.

For more, see www.giy.ie

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