Inside Jess Murphy’s Kitchen

6th July 2018

Interview: Adam Park
Photographs: Emile Dinneen & Dan Dennison

The chef-owner of Kai picks out an award-winning local beer, a pioneering plant-based cookbook and perhaps the most coveted kitchen item in Ireland


Achill lamb »
Free-roaming lamb from Achill Island in Co Mayo. “It’s basically like the Welsh saltmarsh lamb but better,” says Jess. “I can’t understand why nobody says anything about it. If you bought a vacuum-packed leg of lamb, you could stick it in your bag and fly it back home easily.”

Smoked mackerel
Jess highly recommends the smoked mackerel, or any other smoked fish, from Gannet Fishmongers, who have a stall at Galway Market and also a little factory-shop at Ballybane industrial estate outside the city.

“I love nettles,” says Jess. “There’s an Irish saying that if you eat nettles in spring it keeps the doctor away. I cook a lot with nettles, they’re the most basic foraging element. Much like bogmint, although I bloody hate bogmint. It tastes like kerosene.”

Galway Hooker beer »
A local brewing success story. “We started drinking their beers 10 years ago, now they’ve won every award around.”

Dillisk seaweed »
“I use seaweed a lot at home and in the restaurant. This dillisk I’ve got hanging up is from Mungo Murphy’s seaweed farm in Connemara, where you can also get sea urchins, sea slugs and abalone.”


Fingal Ferguson knives »
Perhaps the most coveted kitchen items in the country – be prepared to wait a year or more for one of these beautiful chef’s knives handmade by Fingal Ferguson at Gubbeen farm in West Cork. Jess has no fewer eight of Fingal’s knives.

Hewn wooden spoons »
“These are made by a guy called Eamonn O’Sullivan up in Westport. I wanted him to make me long-handled spoons for the restaurant, but when they arrived I was worried the lads in the kitchen would snap them. So I got the guys tacky tourist spoons that say ‘Galway’ on them and I brought these home.”

Chopping boards »
Jess has a selection of beautiful wooden chopping boards handmade in West Clare by Sam Gleeson.


The Café Paradiso Cookbook, Denis Cotter »
Jess runs a semi-regular cookbook club at the restaurant, where she cooks recipes from a favourite tome. An early highlight was this cookbook from Denis Cotter, chef-owner of the pioneering plant-based restaurant Café Paradiso in Cork.

Mamushka, Olia Hercules »
Olia‘s recipes are so amazing. I’m her biggest fan. I just think her books are unreal and what she’s doing for her community is unreal. She’s really lifting the lid on it, like, ‘Hey guys, look at Ukrainian cuisine, it’s amazing!’ I wrote her a thing on Instagram and she gave me a follow back and said ‘Thank you very much.’ It was a very human touch. Her books really reflect who she is.”

You’re All Invited, Margot Henderson »
Margot is one of my heroes. We featured this book at our cookbook club at Kai. No one can entertain people like Margot.”

Posted 6th July 2018

In Things


Interview: Adam Park
Photographs: Emile Dinneen & Dan Dennison

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