A TALENTED chef from Killeeshil was given the task of cooking for the most exclusive dining club in the world last weekend, under the watchful eyes of armed secret service personnel.
As Executive Sous Chef at the Erne Resort Hotel for the past three years, Stephen Holland has cooked at the very highest level but last Monday’s assignment, catering for the gastronomic leanings of the world’s most powerful people, was his toughest yet.
The 27-year-old was in charge of cooking President Obama and the other G8 leaders a series of courses including boxty bread, Kilkeel crab, roast Kettyle beef and shin, violet artichokes, whiskey custard and apple crumble in between diplomatic discussions on Syria, tax havens and the environment.
All the cooking had to comply with strict security protocols and was passed by Obama’s official food taster before being served.
“The level of security was incredible”, said Stephen, who began his culinary career at the now defunct Glengannon Hotel, and later the Gables, before studying catering at South West College.
“There was security staff from all the G8 countries and a lot of attention was given to the kitchen.”
Although Stephen didn’t decide on the menu he was in charge of cooking and preparing the food and running the kitchen of seven chefs.
“The pressure was intense but the day was over in a flash. Fortunately everything went well, and we were able to showcase the best local artisan and organic foods such as locally produced duck eggs, traditional breads, organic vegetables and meat.
“After the dinner was served we went out and took a bow in front of the world leaders.
“Obama was very gracious afterwards and thanked me for cooking the food. His manner was very relaxed and engaging. You wouldn’t have guessed he was the leader of the most powerful country on the planet.”
He also revealed that the evening was a very teetotal gathering with President Putin asking him to prepare him a pineapple smoothie. Stephen said he’s been cooking seriously since the age of 14. “All I ever wanted to do was cook”, he said. “I’m glad I found my passion in life thanks to the input of my teachers at South West College.”