British-born chef, Hannah Dunleavy, has created an abundance of culinary masterpieces aboard our flagship barge, Renaissance, since 2014. To find out more about her love of cooking, we asked her a series of culinary questions…
Meet Renaissance Chef, Hannah Dunleavy
What is your favourite dish to make on board?
Coq au vin is a real crowd pleaser on board – it’s authentic and classically rich, but without the heavy feel. I love to make it as much as I love to eat it. It’s a real crowd-pleaser for guests and the crew too!
What's the inspiration behind this dish?
One of my favourite first memories of working on a barge was during my time on the Burgundy Canal – this is a very famous Burgundian dish that everyone must try at least once in their life.
Which destinations have inspired you?
I guess it would have to be my trips in Asia. The flavours are so fresh and light. I love to use fresh herbs, citrus and spices to elevate the flavours of my dishes. I like to take our guests on a journey through traditional French cuisine whilst on board, as I feel that is what they came to France to do. Saying that, I also try to incorporate my cooking styles with a mix of worldly flavours from my love of travel where possible, without altering the classics of course!
Who do you consider to be your culinary heroes?
I would have to say it’s a mix with Paul Bocuse and Anne-Sophie Pic. I lived in Lyon for some time and Paul Bocuse was king there. I love his take on fine French cuisine – he kept it traditional, but everything was done to precision and perfection. His focus was on the importance of flavour which is mine also.
Anne-Sophie Pic is so passionate and hard-working. She was brought into the industry through her famous chef family, and into a male-dominated workplace. Through this, Anne was able to carry out the work they had laid out and elevate it to the next level. She uses fresh seasonal produce and creates such breath takingly beautiful masterpieces. For me having a female chef like her to look up to and respect really drives me to do the best I can.
Who would you compare your cooking style with?
I would say I’m a mix between Anne Sophie Pic and Nigella Lawson. That clean seasonal produce with a touch of comforting home style.
What is your favourite food city?
Oh my, this is a hard question for me… I would have to say London. I live in rural France now and was brought up in London so whenever I go back to visit family and friends, I am always excited to try new restaurants and visit the amazing markets. It is so diverse, you can eat any type of food from around the planet from some of the most high-end restaurants with some of the best chefs in the world to eating amazing food in a market food truck.
But one city I love to go to just to pig-out is Seville. I am an addict when it comes to tapas and Seville for me has some of the best and it is just so beautiful there. I always over order as everything sounds good and I always overeat as it’s just so tasty!
Name 3 ingredients you cannot live without
Oh, this question is even harder!
I would have to go with good quality olive oil, good quality flaky salt and citrus (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit etc). There are so many more I would want to pick, but I chose these three as I use them the most in my kitchen, and they are very important to me as they elevate the flavour of most dishes.
Next big foodie trend?
If I’m honest, I don’t follow food trends, as I just go with seasonal, locally-sourced produce – which is more important to me than a ‘trend food’.
Saying that, with the current situation of the world and what we are globally going through – I feel that locally-sourced, seasonal produce is going to be the trend. More people will want to know where their produce is from and help local producers at home and in the restaurant industry.
Another thing I have noticed and often read about is ‘meat -plant blends’, which is becoming more readily available to people. I can see with the ecological issues our planet faces why could be something for the near future. It could also be a way to ease into plant-based diets. Food for thought!
Describe life as a barge chef in 3 words
HOT, fun and … interesting.
Meet Hannah and the Crew aboard Renaissance
Luxury hotel barge, Renaissance, is our flagship barge that cruises Western Burgundy along the mighty Loire River. Talk to one of our cruise specialists today for help in planning your Renaissance discovery, or request a brochure by clicking here.