Inside Sam Gleeson and Niamh Fox’s Kitchen

15th February 2018

Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Dan Dennison

The furniture maker and chef pick out one of Ireland’s best beers, a curious metal gadget for scraping coconuts, and a favourite Jamie Oliver book


The Golden Bean coffee »
Sam and Niamh recommend this coffee roasted by Marc Kingston in Shanagarry, East Cork. He sells to cafés around Ireland or you can buy directly from his stall at Mahon and Douglas farmers’ markets in Cork, on Thursdays and Saturdays respectively.

Olvia olive oil »
“We get our olive oil from Nikolas Papadopoulos, a Greek guy married to an Irish woman. They live in Ennis and he’s just set up an import company called El Greco. He supplies all sorts of interesting stuff but started with this olive oil. It’s really good stuff.” – Sam

White Gypsy beer » 
“Jamie who runs White Gypsy is a friend and I think Cuilan, the head brewer, is probably the best independent brewer in Ireland. He’s very passionate about independent brewing and quite controversial with his views. He really stands by what he does. He makes amazing beer.” – Sam

Goat’s cheese and milk from Lough Avalla farm »
Niamh: This is where we get our goat’s cheese and milk. They own 200 acres of the Burren and rent 200 more so the goats actually think they’re wild – but they come to a bell. They eat herbs when they’re sick and they fix themselves. She [Melissa Jeuken] never gives them anything.
Sam: She scoots around on a bike with a little bell. Then they all come in for milking.
Niamh: She’s like a goat whisperer. It’s an incredible farm. You can go there on walks and then on Sunday they do tea and cake in their house. That’s my favourite. She delivers milk bottles as well so we get fresh goat’s milk.

Ballymaloe Relish »
“Ballymaloe Relish is something I love introducing people to,” says Sam. “I’m always amazed it’s not more widely known outside Ireland.”


Fingal Ferguson knives »
Sam and Niamh have at least four knives by Fingal Ferguson, the master knife-maker at Gubbeen in West Cork – and thanks to Fingal, Sam has learned to make his own knives. A big array of these knives hang from a magnetic board in the kitchen.

Mandoline »
“I always use my mandoline,” says Niamh. “I use it a lot for vegetables because you get bored of chopped vegetables. It creates a different texture and flavour.”

Le Creuset pot »
“The Le Creuset is my mam’s,” says Sam. “My mam is a very particular lady. She moved house about 15 years ago and orange didn’t go with the colour scheme of the house, so she bought a whole new set. And I was like ‘Can I?’, so I got that pot from her, it’s pretty gorgeous.”

Pot rack
“The pot rack is from when Barry and I moved workshop – that’s an old router from a woodworking machine. It was left rotting away in the workshop, so I cleaned it all up and welded the brackets.”

Coconut scraper »
Sam shows us a curious metal gadget mounted on a shelf in the kitchen and asks us to guess what it is. It has a handle on one side and some curved rotating blades on the other. An pineapple corer? “No it’s for coconuts,” he says. “You hold half a coconut against it and around you go – it scrapes and shreds the coconut and that goes into your bowl. Pour your water on top three times, scrunch, scrunch, scrunch, and that’s your coconut meat to cook with. It’s from Sri Lanka.”

“Every person in rural Ghana has one of these,” says Sam. “They call it a cutlass. When I first learned that I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m on a tropical beach and I have a cutlass.’ Little kids take them to school and cut the grass with them in their school play fields. So they’re all there, six or seven years old, going chuch, chuch, chuch, chuch, chuch. It’s a cooking instrument, it’s a forestry tool. There are two types: some people love the round end, some people love the square end. I don’t know why.”


Jamie at Home, Jamie Oliver »
“I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver, I don’t care what people say,” says Sam. “Watching the Jamie at Home TV series in the mid-2000s, suddenly it was like, ‘OK, you don’t have to have chef whites on. You can be the dude in a t-shirt and jeans and do this.’ He’s very good.”

The Wild Gourmets: Adventures in Food and Freedom, Guy Grieve, Thomasina Miers »
“This was a Channel 4 series, it’s very difficult to find now. They drove around England in a Land Rover and that whole deal was that they couldn’t buy anything. He was the wilderness expert, she was the chef. They’d go diving, fishing, shooting. And if they got a glut of everything, they would go to like a local farm and try and swap – some scallops for some butter or something like that. The book is really good too – it’s a how-to guide as well as a cookbook. It’s very nice.” – Sam

Paradiso Seasons, Dennis Cotter »
“The books that had the most effect on me,” says Niamh, “would be the Café Paradiso books. That’s why I went down [to work] there – I made [the owner Dennis Cotter] give me a job because I had the books. I like his earlier ones best – this and The Café Paradiso Cookbook.”

A Year in my Kitchen, Skye Gyngell »
“The first Skye Gyngell book is really nice. It influenced me a lot and helped me develop how I cook. The recipes are really simple and have lots of flavour. Then I bought her other books, but I think A Year in my Kitchen is my favourite.” – Niamh

Gubbeen, Giana Ferguson »
Sam picks out a book about Gubbeen, a noted farm and cheesemakers in West Cork which we visited a couple of years ago. “It’s a really nice one to leave out for guests because it’s not just a cookbook, it’s the whole story of the farm – and it’s got some good recipes in it as well.” – Sam

My New Roots, Sarah Britton »
“I use this book a lot. It’s just a totally different way of cooking, with unusual ingredients and a lot of fermenting. It’s a really healthy cookbook, but the food is amazing.”

The River Cottage Handbooks »
“We have a load of these, they’ve been really good. When we first moved here, we watched A Cook on the Wild Side and the first two series of River Cottage, which were really good because no matter how staged or contrived, something happened there that is similar to what we’re trying to do here.” – Sam

Posted 15th February 2018

In Things


Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Dan Dennison

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