Wed 13 Apr 2011
Funnily enough, strange but common side effects of fame can and often include a sudden loss of memory (like forgetting who your real friends are), a severe case of elitist behaviour and the onset of frequent temper tantrums. I’m from Los Angeles and believe me, this “disease” is practically an epidemic out there!
So it’s refreshing (and rare!) to see people who manage to find success and yet remain humble and kind, and Ireland’s own Donal Skehan is one such person. I first met him at the inaugural gathering of food bloggers in Ireland last year, and though he was one of the hosts and the author of a very popular blog and a new cookbook, he was incredibly down-to-earth and friendly. Well last week Donal released his second cookbook, Kitchen Hero (this time by a major publisher in the UK) and his new cooking show debuts on television in a few weeks – reasons enough to justify a marked change in attitude, if you go by LA standards.
But Donal is still the same upbeat and happy-go-lucky guy he was a year ago (and probably always has been!). He returns emails, he still tweets back and he’ll still “like” something of yours on Facebook, even though he has over 1,000 friends. He’s a food blogger first and foremost and he remains very active in the community, lending his talents to photo workshops and foodie events. Donal still drives his somewhat beat-up old car and that side-swept fringe? He styles it himself (though I think his girlfriend Sofie might help him out now and again!). Although he’s very special, he’s still quite normal.
Even in the midst of his afternoon tea/book launch party at the incredibly beautiful and fancy Westbury Hotel in Dublin - a place where the afternoon tea menu was created by Donal himself and a hotel that’s certainly seen its fair share of diva behaviour – he was still just good ol’ Donal. As we food bloggers munched on his signature treats like Mint Chocolate Whoopie Pies, Fat Boy’s Peanut Butter Snickers Squares and Seared Beef Crostini with Rocket, Parmesan and Pine Nuts, we listened to Donal not wax poetic about his book but thank those who helped him, praise the Westbury staff for their hard work and express gratitude to us for showing up.
Watching him in action, it’s clear he’s gotten this far by being a stand-up guy and by working his tail off – not by climbing on top of people on his way up the ladder. Whether he’s legging it to London for a two-hour meeting with his publisher or flying to Paris to do a cooking demo for le food bloggers, he does it with a smile. His grueling schedule will only get busier as his star rises, but from everything I’ve seen there’s no doubt he’ll handle it with grace and humour.
I thought it fitting to make one of Donal’s recipes for dinner the night after his tea party, so I chose his “Boom Boom Pow” Nasi Goreng. I’m such a sucker for a spicy-hot rice dish and this has it all. The only thing missing is the fried egg on top, but it was still fabulous (MM gives his approval as well!). The recipe can be found on page 44 of Kitchen Hero!