Donna Hughes - Executive Chef

Where did you start your career & how did you progress to your position as Executive Chef?

At the age of 20 I began my career as Commis Pastry Chef at Tullymore House before progressing to Pastry Chef at Galgorm two years later. From there I have gained a wealth of experience throughout the Resort as Chef De Partie in Gillies, to Junior Sous Chef and later becoming Head Banqueting Chef and Resort Head Chef. I currently work in Galgorm's sister hotel, The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat, as Executive Chef. 

What is your favourite cuisine to enjoy with family & friends?

When it comes to enjoying cuisine with family and friends, Mexican is my go-to. In my opinion, the joy of Mexican cuisine lies the variety of dishes available, which means there is guaranteed to be something to satisfy every palate. Tacos, quesadillas, and stews are perfect crowd pleasers for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. 

What is your beverage of choice to relax at leisure?

Grey Goose Vodka

How do you motivate your staff and keep them inspired?

I feel it’s important that our team of chefs experience exactly what our guests do, which is precisely why we regularly offer staff the chance to dine in the restaurants. With this in mind, staff is increasingly motivated to deliver a stellar experience time and time again. When it comes to keeping the team inspired, continually researching new trends in cookery and introducing these to the kitchen is of paramount importance and encourages the team to bring something new to the table when designing and testing potential recipes.

Name the Top 5 restaurants in the world that you would like to visit & experience

  • The French Laundry - Yountville
  • Fat Duck - Bray
  • Alinea - Chicago
  • Noma - Copenhagen
  • Murano - London

What other great chefs inspire you?

Angela Hartnett and Thomas Keller have all inspired me throughout my career. Having shone a light on the industry and subsequently brought it to a wider audience through his television work, it would be impossible to look past Marco Pierre White as another inspiring figure within the industry. 

Name a destination that you would like to visit in the future & why?

The number one destination currently on my list of places to visit has to be New Orleans. It’s the rich combination of music, food, and vibrant cultural heritage - the three great joys in life -  that attracts me to the American city. 

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