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Chef Chat with Catalina’s Irish Head of the Kitchen, Alan O’Keeffe

By Leigh O’Connor.

Not too many ingredients turn Alan O’Keeffe off a menu, it’s more the descriptions of the dishes. Don’t put ‘on a bed of’ if you want this seasoned Chef’s approval!

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Alan now heads the kitchen at waterfront Catalina restaurant in Rose Bay, which has built a reputation for its effortless luxury and uniquely Australian approach to dining.

Located in Lyne Park with sweeping views of Sydney Harbour, Catalina is a destination synonymous with chic coastal style where every table has a stunning vista and the food never fails to impress.

Chef Chat with Catalina’s Irish Head of the Kitchen, Alan O’Keeffe

"I have always had a passion for cooking, I was cooking for the whole family at age 10 and always looked forward to and enjoyed cooking feasts with my Mother at Easter and Christmas,” Alan tells AGFG.

"I loved watching cooking shows, reading cook books and trying out everything I learned cooking for my family. I was advised to go to college and study for a degree instead of cooking, but it wasn’t long before I packed it in and chased my dream to become a great Chef.”

Alan is classically trained focusing on French techniques, which has defined his style.

"I would say I use my training and respect for great dishes created in the past to develop dishes with more modern presentation.”

This is one Chef who can’t stand wastage in the kitchen…he always looks in the bins close to where the Chefs are working to see what is being thrown away.

"I also try to create dishes that use the whole animal or vegetable instead of using what we need and throwing away the rest.”

Although he has had the opportunity to work with some great Chefs in his career, Alan says his Mum is by far the best cook he has ever met and he still uses some of her recipes for the Catalina Christmas Day menu.

Chef Chat with Catalina’s Irish Head of the Kitchen, Alan O’Keeffe
Sharing his recipe for seared scallops, spanner crab mousse, miso Hollandaise and nori dust, Alan says Abrolhos Island scallops are probably the best he has ever tasted:

"Great ingredients are the foundation of a great dish! What makes this dish special to me is it incorporates my love of classic French cooking with the umami of Japanese flavours.”

While this recipe does have some difficult techniques involved, it is everyone’s favourite spaghetti Bolognese that Alan goes to when he doesn’t feel like cooking at home.

"Spaghetti Bolognese is an easy meal to prepare that the whole family enjoys. I keep some beef demi-glaze in the freezer to add to the sauce to give it extra flavour.”

Just don’t serve him mashed potato – he doesn’t like it!

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Set on the waterfront in Rose Bay, Catalina on Lyne Park is an Australian culinary icon. Owned and operated for more than 30 years by the McMahon family, this Sydney restaurant has built a reputati...

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