| by Drew Middleton
From a humble HR manager in Dublin to hotshot chef de partie and food writer in London, Laoise Casey has a culinary tale that's jam packed with delicious dreams and amazing experiences.
We sat down with her to chat fussy childhood eating, Irish comfort food, kitchen nightmares and cooking à la carte for Jamie Oliver.
I’m very excited to be here. I’m from Dundrum, a town just outside the center of Dublin in Ireland. I’ve gone from a HR manager of 7 years to a London-based professional chef, food writer and newspaper columnist.
I fell in love with Box Appetit so I can’t wait to share my passion for food, lunch box ideas, event-themed recipes and kitchen hacks with everyone!
I was a really fussy child. When I was 5, my mum used to make Spaghetti Bolognese but I would only eat it if she put the spaghetti and bolognese into separate bowls.
I was picky with my lunch boxes too. I’d have no treats, eat only the sandwich fillings and throw away the rye bread, but I did love animal crackers. I was a real brat.
One of my favourite things is my dad’s mashed potato. He used to make it so badly with raw onions. But I love cooking really simple nice stews, roast chicken, roast potatoes - because I’m Irish, everything has to include “POTATOES!”
My granny was the best cook in the family though. My mum always says the cooking gene skipped a generation. She always complains she can’t cook (but she can!).
I never planned to be a restaurant chef. I moved to London and enrolled into Leiths School of Food & Wine but I needed to get restaurant experience.
I did a stage at L’Autre Pied in Marylebone with an Irish chef. On my first day I went in at 8am, left at midnight and all I did was chop up four crates of fennel. I was like “you b****ds” as my hands and fingers were killing me.
A good service is when everything works perfectly; the vegetables are prepared, mise en place is ready, your order checks are spaced out and everyone works together. There’s a crazy buzz which I can’t describe.
If everything’s going wrong and it’s too busy, you just want to cry and go home. There’s nothing worse than the sound of a frantic check machine. Big parties are a guaranteed nightmare and bad communication between the front and back of house makes you feel messy and sloppy.
But I’m an adrenaline junkie so I’m pumped during a hectic shift.
I’m really organised but if I’m unprepared before the lunch or dinner services, I hate that. There’s a term in kitchens called ‘spinning out’ when you physically start turning around. Some chefs thrive on that, but I like to be more relaxed.
A month ago Jamie Oliver came into Paradise Garage. He was lovely and put up a picture on his Instagram saying he loved our à la carte tasting menu, which was a big deal for us in the kitchen.
I’ve also interviewed chefs I’ve admired for years like Michel Roux Jr and Alain Ducasse. Gordon Ramsay, Raymond Blanc and René Redzepi have all visited The Dairy too. We have extra chefs on and abandon all other checks when they order. We’ve had seven chefs on one plate of food before.
I spent a month travelling around Sri Lanka. They eat super spicy dishes. My favourite delicacy were mini stuffed open pancakes with an egg in the bottom called ‘hoppers’.
Roast chicken, lasagne, chicken pies, steak and bearnaise, apple tarts, simple chocolate cakes and triple cooked chips. I’m more savoury than sweet, but I like to get a nice balance.
Taste. Most food bloggers focus on presentation which drives me crazy. I’d rather eat something that is delicious but doesn’t look amazing. But you can eat with your eyes.
At The Dairy in Clapham, our fish is usually sous vide (cooked in little bags) but it needs to be smoked as well. It was a really busy Saturday and I hadn’t been on the section in a while, but I had 5 orders and thought the turbot was ready in the bag. It was raw and uncooked. The head chef screamed at me for that.
I’d cook an omelette with Michel Roux Jr. I’d also love to bake a Victoria Sponge for Mary Berry.
I would like to own a little lunch café in Ireland or South London which does simple pies, tarts and sandwiches.
Lunch Box Heaven: Rib-eyed steak, bearnaise sauce and triple cooked chips.
Lunch Box Hell: Sushi and raw fish.
Best lunchtime spot: Brasserie Zédel in Soho, London
Favourite type of food: Italian
Favourite 3 ingredients: Pistachio nuts, potatoes and butter.
If you could create a lunch box for one famous person, who would it be and why: Michel Roux Jr as I’m a fan of French classical cooking
Top Tip for lunch box preppers: Prep in advance and use leftovers.
Laoise can be found on the following social media channels and websites: