Emmett McCourt: A Life’s Passion
Food for Emmett has been a constant journey of love and passion for over two decades. His culinary career began 24 years ago at the NI Hotel and Catering College, Portrush. Since then he has travelled the world working in the kitchens of some of the world’s finest restaurants, luxury cruise liners and hotels alongside some of the world’s greatest chefs, including international names such as the legendary Georges Paineu and Yves Thuries of France. Locally, he has had the great pleasure and honour of working and learning in the shadow of Sean Owens, Noel McMeel and the late Robbie Miller.

He currently lectures at the North West Regional College and has lectured at Belfast Metropolitan College.

Emmett also demonstrates locally and nationally in stores and at major food events working with Ulster Pork and Bacon, Food NI, The Lough’s Agency and the Great Game Fairs of Ireland – endorsing ethically sourced and sustainable local ingredients wherever possible.

Emmett has co-authored the book Food Reflections of Northern Ireland and has also contributed to Irish Country Sports and Country Life magazine’s Cookery Pages.Emmett’s other passion is fly fishing and he has contributed to Willow Pitch, a highly successful, limited-edition angling book by Cornwall publishers The Little Egret Press. He recently contributed a regional pork dish from the North West of Ireland for a catering academic text book, Professional Chef Diploma Level 2 – 2nd edition by Cengage Learning. Emmett also reviewed and provided a cover quote for this text book.

Feeling that the North West of Ireland was always underrated by food critics and connoisseurs in terms of food culture, Emmett decided to undertake the research and writing of his new publication – Feast or Famine – to help overturn this misconception. This decision was underscored by the realisation that he had travelled the world extensively, cooking and experiencing the local food associated with other countries yet he had never explored in any depth his native food heritage. As a result, he felt it would be interesting to source and record the provenance and history of local produce and recipes to convey the passion he holds for food and cookery from his own hometown area.

Recipe of the week

Alexis Soyer's Famine Soup

Original Recipe 1847
  • 12-1⁄2 lbs leg of beef
  • 100 gallons of water
  • 6-1/4 lbs drippings
  • 100 onions and other vegetables
  • 25 lbs each of flour (seconds) and pearl barley
  • 1-1/2 lbs brown sugar
  • 9 lbs salt

Modern Interpretation
  • Beef leg Bones 1000g
  • Water 2 litres or Beef stock
  • Butter 100g
  • Onions 1 peeled and chopped
  • Other vegetables available – turnips, celery / leeks chopped 200g
  • Flour 100g
  • Barley 200g
  • Brown sugar 50g Salt to season

  • 1. Melt the butter in heavy based pan (famine pot).
  • 2. Sweat onions and other vegetables, add sugar and flour, and cook until coloured.
  • 3. Add pearl barley and stock.
  • 4. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, adjust the seasoning.
  • 5. Serve from pot with oat cakes.