FOURty Seconds with Seamus Mullen

21 Sep 2015
3 min read
With the Annual Roots Conference kicking off yesterday with this year’s major theme of ‘Taking Action’ towards positive change within the food industry, FOUR caught up with guest speaker and chef Seamus Mullen of Turtulia, New York, to find out what he feels are important changes that need to take place within our fractured food system

Yesterday marked the opening day of the much anticipated,Third Annual Roots Conference 2015 taking place at The Culinary Vegetable Institute.The event that has become renowned for the on going work that it does to try and engage the food world into understanding and repairing our fractured food system, will yet again be offering prime topics of discussion for all visitors.

What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?

I grew up on a small farm in Vermont and I was surrounded good food from a young age. My earliest memory of actually cooking was with my grandmother, pan frying some little trouts that I caught in our local stream with some lemon, capers and brown butter.

What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?

My cooking has evolved over the years, I’ve always been very influenced by seasonal cooking, as a kid we ate what we grew which meant seasonal cooking! As a young cook, I went to Spain and cooked in Spain that had a huge impact on how I cooked when I came back to the US.

Describe your culinary style…

Seasonal, farm to table, contemporary Spanish and healthy cooking.

Can you tell us which chefs you trained under and what you learnt?

  • Floyd Cardoz, at Table in New York, I learned a lot about the importance of seasonal cooking, working with local and sustainable ingredients, cooking with a variety of spices and cooking techniques.
  • Andoni Luis Aduriz at Mugaritz in San Sebastian, I learned contemporary Basque cooking, with deep roots in the traditional foods of the Basque region.
  • Jordi Vila, Alkimia in Barcelona. Jordi taught me a lot about product based, modern Catalan cuisine. I learned the value of simple, reverence for ingredients.

You are taking part in the Annual Roots conference this year, Can you tell us a bit more about the conference and what it means to you?

Gaining a deeper understanding of our relationship with food I think is a fundamental part of being a Chef. Sharing ideas about what that means is crucially important to me as a chef.

What are the main themes of the conference and what do you hope is addressed/achieved from the event?

I am particularly interested in the discussion around food and wellness and how our health is directly impacted by the foods we eat.

What do you think needs to change for the future of food?

We need to have stricter guidelines around GMO foods and more emphasis placed on the importance of REAL ingredients. We need to reduce the amount of processed foods we’re feeding our children and focus on teaching the next generation about what it means to cook and eat well. I firmly believe that you can either pay your local farmer today or pay your doctor tomorrow.

What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?

For me, overcoming an “incurable” auto-immune disease by re-evaluating my relationship with food and readdressing how I eat is by far the most important and crucial moment in my career.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?

Remember that you are NOT invincible. Being a chef is a very difficult and demanding career and it’s extremely important to be as healthy and as strong as possible to ensure that you don’t end up unhealthy and sick in your 40s and 50s. If I could give the 22 year old me a piece of advice it would be to exercise regularly, eat well, do yoga and balance work and personal life.

What’s next for you?

In 2016 we’ll be opening a large farm to table restaurant in the 1 Hotel in the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the waterfront in Brooklyn.

What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?

I’ve been dying to get to Blackberry Farm.

Annual Roots Conference

12304 Mudbrook Rd