Category Archives: General

Taste of Dublin 2013

Many thanks have to go to Electrolux for providing us with a pair of tickets to Taste of Dublin this year.

Taste of Dublin has become an annual event that I look forward to. I chose to go on the Friday this year, as it’s seen quieter crowds, and after the disaster that was Bloom 2013, I couldn’t face being shoved around. Tickets are still available on the door today if you felt like dropping in, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon in Dublin.

The O'Brien's Wine Masterclass tent, with the Electrolux Theatre in the background

There was the usual mix of vendors, demonstrations and an opportunity to taste some of the best restaurants in Dublin.

I especially enjoyed the Thai pavilion, that was set up at the back of the event, with plenty of seating provided by Elephant Beanbags in the green area in front – I think I’ll be having me one of those beanbags soon! There were a lot of different activities on offer, as you can see

Thai dancers 

Thai Dancers again, with one of the wonderful Elephant beanbags in front
Thai Dancers again, with one of the wonderful Elephant beanbags in front


Brilliant Thai massages for free!



Thai Massages


When you see one bouncing merrily across your blog you know it’s been too long since you last posted anything. So after “that post” about quality over quantity you’re probably all expecting some really in-depth well written piece about nutrition or food hygiene or maybe even a recipe.

Unfortunately this is not the case, I simply have not been writing anything at all, but I have a really good excuse (All of a sudden I feel like I’m back in primary school, explaining to Miss Mc why I don’t have my homework done!). I got a job! Yup, you’re reading the words of a very happy professional chef.

Everything that I’ve been working for the last few years is starting to fall into place, I started my new role as a Commis Chef a few months back and I have to say I’m really loving it, I didn’t at first but I’ll explain that below.

First I want to extend a huge heartfelt thank you to Executive Chef, Cathal Kavanagh for giving me the opportunity, when many others simply weren’t interested. Months of rejection letters and being ignored have a way of wearing down even the most optimistic of souls but then a one day trial comes along and you give it everything you have. That was a Friday and I started at 3pm the following Monday.

That first week was incredibly tough, both mentally and especially physically. My first full day I arrived home with aching legs, lower back and stomach muscles as well as a minor burn and a teeny cut. My mind struggled to hold onto the 3 recipes I had learnt that evening long enough for me to scribble them down in my notebook, which now lives in my chef pants.

Each day has been the same since but thankfully both my fitness level and strength seem to be catching up with what’s been demanded of them. Thankfully this means those muscle aches are lessening, either that or I’ve just stopped feeling them. This is why I wasn’t loving the job as much when I started, I genuinely feared I wasn’t going to be able to stick the pace and I would let down all the people who have helped, supported and encouraged me. That thought also acted as a huge motivator for me and I managed to push through that first week.

Don’t get me wrong, the feeling of achievement and fulfillment that still washes over me when I finish a shift and am heading for home is unbelievable, if I’ve been on service it borders on emotional. I haven’t enjoyed what I do for a living this much in over a 15 years, not that I was that unhappy in I.T. and sales, it’s just that the further I got away from creating, the less I enjoyed my job. At the time I put that down to the increased responsibility and pressures of the job as I moved to more and more senior positions but it was actually just me becoming more and more jaded and bored with an industry, that in my opinion, has become more concerned about public opinion than it is about building great products.

So what does all this mean for NOT JUNK FOOD? I’m not sure, is the honest answer. It’s been 5 months since the last post and I don’t see myself having any more time in the coming months than I’ve had in the last few.

My biggest difficulty with blogging has always been the amount of technical work that goes into maintaining a self-hosted WordPress blog. Right now, there are updates that need to be done on this blog which involve updating databases and other elements of the dark arts that I simply don’t have the knowledge to complete. I could spend my time learning what I need to know to complete the upgrades but then I won’t need that knowledge again for a long time and so will have to re-learn it again at some point in the future if I am to continue the way I have been. I even contacted my hosting company to see if they would manage the techy stuff for me in exchange for payment, but they’re not interested. It’s ironic to think that my biggest barrier to blogging is my blogging platform, but that really is the case. In order for me to enjoy writing again I need to drastically reduce (or eliminate) the amount of time I spend doing the techy stuff.

I don’t want to close and delete this site because I use it as my own recipe book so I have to find a solution, if you have a suggestion I’m all ears.

In the meantime, I may decide to publish the occasional recipe but I’m not going to make promises regarding a schedule or anything else, until I can find a solution to my technical problems.

Kitchen Hero returns

The first season of Kitchen Hero, Donal Skehan’s excellent TV show, returns to our TV screens tonight at 8.30 on RTE 1 after it’s mid season break. I really enjoyed the first 6 episodes so I’m counting the minutes already.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Donal Skehan, he has a great biography over on his food blog. He first came to my attention with his original and excellently titled food blog alas it is no longer with us but the ethos behind that original blog is still very much alive on

His first cook book, “Good Mood Food”, is a great read that reminds me of the early Jamie Oliver cookbooks with it’s direct and easy to follow style. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to give his second book, Kitchen Hero, a review as yet but based on what I’ve seen in the TV show, I’m sure it will be every bit the match for the recipes and tips of the first.

As cooking shows go, Donal’s personality and enthusiasm shines through, there is no doubting that he loves food, loves to cook and most important loves to share that knowledge with others. His recipes are very accessible and any I’ve made, I’ve enjoyed both the results and the preparation.

The thing that really makes this show for me though is the attention to detail, I can’t remember the last time I saw a cookery show where we actually saw the cook washing their hands, not to mention washing them after handling raw meat. I know it’s basic hygiene and I know most people do it automatically, but I really hate the way so many shows seem to take hygiene for granted! Good on you Donal for keeping it real!

A moment of thought and planning

So, Thursday saw the end of my series of posts on cooking methods which was microwave cooking and I didn’t publish a recipe to go with it. This wasn’t an oversight on my behalf, if it wasn’t for my morning laziness I would hardly ever use our microwave.

Quality is not quantity.
Image via Wikipedia

So, what’s next for Not Junk Food?

Well, I had mentioned before that I wanted to do some posts on food hygiene and nutrition but I’m not going to launch into those just yet, part of the reason is that I haven’t even started writing those posts yet, what with the job hunting taking up so much of my focus for the last while and because these can be VERY boring topics if not treated well. So rather than rush into it and risk boring my tiny audience to tears I’m going to work on making those posts as easy to read and digest as possible.

When this site started originally I was posting at least 4 times a week, more recently that has dropped to 2-4 posts a week. This gave me a little extra time to improve the quality of what I was writing, by allowing me to do more research and editing, some of those cooking method posts were like chapters of a book on their first draft and that’s just not cricket. People either don’t read longer posts or lose interest halfway through. I really believe that having an understanding of these basic methods has improved my cooking immensely and I wanted to pass those details along to as many people as possible hence the extra effort.

For the future I intend to continue this trend of lower quantity, higher quality. So here’s the plan, I’m going to commit to publishing a recipe and at least one other post every week, for the foreseeable future.

Foodie Links for 15/8/2011

Looks Like Jamie found a use for the “Jamie’s Food revolution” Emmy :)

What a great example of the Fast food industry helping to raise awareness about Diabetes

So the American Food ad industry thinks proposed new guidelines for advertising to children are too restrictive, I reckon that means they just need to be a little tighter then 😉

I’d love a set of these, Parmesan pencils great idea but I wonder if the cheese is any good?