Friday, October 5, 2012

Dermie Meets: Domini Kemp - How I Like To Cook

Domini Kemp is the founder of ITSA in Dublin and is the weekly food columnist with The Irish Times. She chats to me about the success of ITSA, family and her third cookbook 'Domini At Home How I Like To Cook'. Domini lives in Sandymount, Co. Dublin with her journalist husband Garvan and two children Lauren and Maeve. 



The moment Domini answers the door of her South Dublin home, I am instantly welcomed with a warm smile and a friendly disposition. A highly driven business woman her home acts as an office, a photo studio and a place where family and friends drop by for dinner.

"I work from home a lot as I spend vast quantities of time on the phone and the computer. We have about 12 different food businesses throughout Dublin - including bagel shops, cafes, tea rooms and The Restaurant in Brown Thomas, Dublin as well as our restaurant, Table in Brown Thomas in Cork". Domini explains.

Despite the economic downturn and the devastating effects of a terrible winter in 2010, ITSA is thriving and along with her sister Peaches she continues to expand the chain. Recently ITSA acquired ʻDubh Linnʼ tea-rooms in Dublin Castle and plans are in place to grow the company through seeking innovative concepts.

For over a decade, Domini and Peaches have put the same amount of care and absolute devotion into every aspect of ITSA's food and quality of ingredients. It is not just good quality food and exceptional customer attention that has placed ITSA firmly ahead of the competition but as Domini explains "ITSA's success is down to hard work, building a great team of managers, always trying to improve what we do and never getting complacent".

The success of ITSA lead to an offer of a weekly recipe column in The Irish Times which she has complied into her third cookbook. "This book is another collection of my favourite recipes, a greatest hits collection, if you will. All of my books are similar in that they are aimed at home cooks and have just changed with the times" Domini explains.
Domini is always looking for the shortest, tastiest and most efficient route to a great dish. She comes up with her own recipes but takes inspiration from other cookery writers, simplifying what sounds daunting and eliminating any unnecessary steps without compromising on flavour. "Call it plagiarism, call it lazy, call it practical... it's how I like to cook" she writes in the introduction. "I don't like food to be overly handled or fussed with. If too many hands have been on your food, it just won't taste as good".

Domini's no fuss instructions will have you whizzing dishes together in no time, whether it is her 'Getting it into Them Family Favourites' like tandoori chicken or her 'Fancy Casual' recipes like posh chicken Kiev, then this book has it all - in the shortest, tastiest and most efficient route possible.

Domini At Home: How I Like To Cook is published by Gill & Macmillan and is priced at €22.99 in all good bookstores.


Domini Kemp's Chickpea Soup With Curry Prawns
(Serves 4)


- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion (Peeled and Finely Chopped)
- 2 Garlic Cloves (Peeled and Finely Sliced)
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 x 400g Tin Chickpeas Drained
- 1 Litre Vegetable Stock
- 1 Tsp Coriander Seeds Crushed
- 200ml White Wine
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Bunch Chives (Finely Chopped)

Curry Garnish:

- Knob of Butter
- 1 Tsp Curry Powder
- 8-12 Prawns
- Salt and Pepper


1. In a large saucepan, sweat the olive oil, onions and garlic together until soft. Season well and do not allow to brown. 

2. Chuck in the other ingredients (except the chives) and heat through. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and then mix in a blender. Return to the saucepan and check for seasoning.

3. For the prawn garnish, I use cooked frozen tiger prawns, defrosted thoroughly and patted dry. 

4. Heat the butter until foaming, add the curry powder and then chuck in the prawns and, keeping the heat up high, toss around until they are well coated and hot. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with curry prawns and chives (or just the chives and an extra swirl of olive oil).