Jonny Elliott is head chef and owner of EDŌ. Here’s a little Q & A with him so you can get to know him better.
Favourite dish on the menu: Beef cheek, every time.
Favourite restaurants: Akelare, Arzak and Mugaritz.
Restaurants on his list to go to: Noma, El Cellar de Can Roca and Osteria Francescana.
What he cooks for himself at home: not much!
Foods that are always in his fridge: pate, cheese, cold meats, Romesco, olives and wine.
Favourite alcoholic tipple: I love the Albariño white wine and the Montepulciano red wine at EDŌ that we get from Direct Wine Shipments.
Favourite place: I’m torn between two. Years ago I spent time in San Sebastien with a group of chefs. We toured the area eating out and sampling lots of different restaurants. I just fell in love with the place – the people, the food, the climate. There’s a big concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants out there – what’s not to like? And then I went to Tuscany with an ex-girlfriend a couple of years ago and had a similar experience to San Sebastien – the people, the lifestyle, the cars … a man can dream!
Favourite place he’s worked: it has to be the superyachts. Working in that environment was something else. The sheer grandeur, luxury and money was phenomenal. Every morning, wherever we were in the world, I found the local market and bought fresh produce. According to what I bought, that was the menu for the day. The freedom to do that is just something else – not being held by a set menu and just picking the freshest, most succulent ingredients I saw was a great experience for a chef. The only downside to working on a yacht is you can’t escape! You’re there 24/7 at everybody’s beck and call. I vividly remember being woke in the early hours of the morning to make a snack for the boss. It’s full on all the time and you need a lot of energy to get you through the days, weeks and months because it’s rare you ever get a day off during the season. It’s a young person’s game, really, but a great experience I’ll never forget.
Motto: Get it done!
Well, hasn’t that gone quick! This month marks our eighteen-month anniversary of opening and what an eighteen months it has been.
‘From the first idea, finding the venue, exploring my ideas around my vision for EDŌ to fitting the restaurant out and designing our menus and name and getting the team together, it’s been a hell of a ride. Starting out last September was just about trying to keep the whole show on the road, keep the team doing what they were supposed to be doing and all the while, for me, trying to learn on the job the business side of a restaurant. It has been a massive learning curve going from running a kitchen to actually running the whole shebang and being responsible for every single detail of EDŌ. You really have to live and breathe each and every aspect of the restaurant – the good bits, the bad bits, the things I enjoy doing and the things I don’t enjoy doing. It feels like I’m on a permanent rollercoaster ride!
‘Jay Rayner’s article in The Guardian in January 2018 really took things to another level for us. We saw a massive increase in bookings and it’s stayed busy ever since. His timing was perfect because we’d had a couple of months to get our feet under the table, had had our first Christmas and then – boom! – away we went. In the first few months I had deliberately tried to keep under the radar because I wanted to give the team a chance to get together and know what they were at
‘But it is a beautiful thing seeing your idea and dream come to fruition, though, and I feel really lucky that I’ve had the opportunity of opening EDŌ. What we need to focus on now as a team is moving up a step from the established base we now have – a good strong menu with a solid team of chefs and front of house, to diversifying and adding specials that the chefs can really get their teeth into. We have the favourites customers order time and time again, and as much as they enjoy eating them we enjoy cooking them, but as chefs we enjoy variety and spontaneity and being creative with different ingredients. For that reason, our specials menu gives us the chance to test ourselves and produce something different every day. That’s our idea of fun! ????
‘Ultimately our goal every day is just to create a good dining experience for our customers.’
Our BERTHA oven at EDŌ is key to the food our chefs put on your plate.
Believe it or not, each hot dish at EDŌ spends at least some time in BERTHA before it reaches your table because BERTHA is a great multitasker – she can bake, roast, slow cook and smoke. Our chefs can cook at the top, middle or bottom of BERTHA, meaning they can use a range of temperatures according to whatever dish they’re cooking. She helps us take our food to another level cooking with wood to give it the smokey taste EDŌ has become known for, and being able to cook faster than an open grill means a quick turnaround in service while ensuring your food is evenly cooked through too.
Let’s give you a bit of the history: BERTHA was designed by Spyros Alexander who supplied the restaurant trade for over thirty years. Her design is based on the Spanish Etxeberri restaurant which grills or smokes food quickly at high temperatures. By concentrating the cooking heat, the flavours of the food are drawn out.
Jonny says, ‘Bertha is very versatile, allowing us to cook vegetables, flatbreads and cuts of meat. It was a no-brainer to choose her as the main kitchen equipment. She brings a different style of cooking to Belfast. She’s not the biggest piece of equipment but she can fairly pack a punch! Once lit in the morning, it takes about forty minutes for her to warm up to 200°C and that’s her cooking all day – all we have to do is slowly supply her with wood, turf or charcoal to keep her happy. Cooking at such an intense heat means the flavour of the food is locked in but the chefs have to be on the ball because twenty seconds makes all the difference between a rare and medium/rare steak.’
If you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the fine food out of BERTHA we’re sure you’ll agree with William Sitwell when he was quoted in the Huffington Post saying, ‘BERTHA … Out of her belly come things of real beauty’. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, put her to the test and come and enjoy the fine food from her belly!