Since moving to Peckham, we’ve been poking our heads about and seeing what’s cool in the area. And cool we found – in the shape of the GastroGays! This culinary couple, Russell & Patrick, originally hail from Dublin but have created a highly successful blog and brand using humour and good food! We caught up with them for a little chat and asked our usual burning questions…
We’re massive fans of your blog and your Instagram stories in particular! What’s the best way to introduce your style of cooking to someone who’s discovering you for the first time?
GastroGays is all about simple recipes that are totally approachable. We love the simple, pared-back classics but always with a modern or unique twist and shining a light on the best ingredients you can get. We live by “everything in moderation, including moderation” so our recipes always reflect that. We’re not about incredibly indulgent, over the top bakes and we’re also not peddling hugely restrictive, specialist ‘clean eating’ dishes. We love food in all its glory and want to share our passion for it with everyone!
You guys are two proud home cooks – what’s the one thing you need in your home kitchen to make it yours?
We’ve never been professionally trained, so everything we know about cooking and being competent in a kitchen has been gleamed from years of practice, research and passion poured into experimenting and having a bit of an adventure in the kitchen. The one thing we’d say you need might sound quite cheffy, but it’s an essential basic: seasoning. Salt, pepper and maybe a couple of key herbs and spices. Seasoning food is so important to bring out the best in flavour and you won’t believe what you can achieve with a little spice used in the right way…
We speak a lot about renting and sometimes rented kitchens can be small – and a bit gross… What’s your one quick-fix to make any kitchen workable?
Keep it clean and tidy. We’re guilty of not always keeping ours impeccably tidy, having a very small kitchen in our rented fifth floor flat in SE London. However, as long as it’s kept clean and organised with a proper space for everything you need, you should be fine. Work clean too, you’ll get better results if you’re methodical about operating in a clean environment and trying to minimise mess whilst cleaning up as-you-go. Another crucial tip is: edit. Pare everything back to the key essentials. You don’t need every gadget, utensil or contraption clogging up your kitchen space just in case you need it; invest in a few really good, sturdy, long-lasting key kitchen bits and they will take you so far.
We love your ‘Song of Proves’ monthly playlist! If you had to pick top-three songs to cook along to, what would they be and why?
Delighted you like it! We always cook with music on in the background and it just makes the whole process so much more enjoyable. We often get talking to people who say they hate being in the kitchen or they feel uncomfortable, bored or uninspired when they cook – we say you get out what you put in! Commit to it and embrace it to the fullest. Pour a glass of wine, put on your favourite album, get lost in the act of chopping, stirring and slicing. Three songs is such a hard one to narrow down; Can we do three albums? Maybe Tame Impala – Currents; Jessie Ware – Tough Love; and something a little more classic and unusual. An Edith Piaf album maybe?
Like us, you guys are massive Eurovision fans and next year you’re headed to the final in the Ukraine. Is there one signature Ukrainian dish you’ll be trying before you go?
We’re HUGE Eurovision fans and have quite a substantial expertise of the Contest and its starry musical past (especially being two guys from Ireland – the most successful country in the Contest’s history!) We pretty much spend every Saturday evening cooking up something really delicious before sitting down to watch a re-run of an old Contest for a couple of hours with a few drinks. It’s become a bit of a ritual and we wouldn’t change it for the world! We can’t wait to explore Ukraine this year as we’re delighted they’ve deservedly won for a second time, and one of our favourite London-based cooks is the Ukranian chef Olia Hercules, so we’ll be getting lots of cooking inspiration from her debut book, Mamushka – we’ve already tried a couple of the salads and the pampushky garlic bread! Incredible!
One more thing – What’s next for Gastrogays?
As 2016 ends it’s been an incredibly exciting year for us personally, so hopefully 2017 goes even above and beyond that! We’ve travelled lots (think we counted 20 or 30 flights between us this year alone!) and we’ve gotten tonnes of amazing exposure for our recipes, freelance features and our social media has just rocketed. We’ve just had our debut live TV cookery slot on TV3 back in Ireland so hopefully lots more of that to come and you’ll see us on more radio and TV across the UK and Ireland.
We’re also collaborating with lots of different brands, businesses and other bloggers to develop exciting content all the time. Naturally, we’ll be travelling to lots of exciting new destinations in 2017 so we’ll be taking everyone along and reporting back on where to stay, what to eat and drink and where to discover – including Kiev, host city of Eurovision 2017. We’d love to embark on some more exciting projects if time allows, maybe guest host a supperclub or do a cafe takeover so our recipes could come alive for people to enjoy in a beautiful location, cooked by us. More longer term, we’d love to possibly do a cookbook in the future, we’d adore to do a food-led travel series (like Donal Skehan, Rick Stein, Rachel Khoo have all done) and we’re being asked more and more to do speaking events, talks, seminars and interviews about how we’ve grown GastroGays into a brand and what we’ve learned along the way.
We can’t wait to see what more the GastroGays so and we’ll definitely be first in line to attend a supper club!
Chow for now,
David & Mark x