Desert island dishes

Ryan Holmes
Culinary director, Compass Group Business and Industry


Cornish pasty 
My nan taught me how to make a pasty the proper Cornish way and all the history behind it. It has to be made with skirt beef, swede, potato, salt, a good pinch of pepper and shortcrust pastry, with a proper crimp that miners would be proud of.

Galbi short rib bibimbap bowl
Street food is huge in Portland, Oregon, where I stumbled across the Kim Jong Smokehouse. I ordered this dish with scorched rice, kimchi, pickled apple and toasted sesame seeds, drizzled with homemade gochujang and topped with a fried egg. It was divine and made such an impression on me that we have just launched Kim Jong-inspired bibimbap bowls across Eurest and 14forty.

Kid goat mince curry
While I was the culinary director for Compass Ireland for three and a half years, I was fortunate to live south of Dublin in a village called Greystones. My favourite dish from Ireland is the kid goat mince curry from Pickle on Camden Street in Dublin. With free-range goat from Roscommon, this flavour-packed curry melts in your mouth. I got to know the chef patron Sunil Ghai and his passion and knowledge is inspiring. I will certainly be paying him a visit when I go back next.

Roast leg of lamb Sunday lunch
It might be traditional, but I love a good Sunday lunch! I baste the lamb every 20 minutes and rest it for at least half an hour; my roast potatoes must be super crispy yet fluffy in the middle; and I always serve it with beautiful slow-braised red cabbage.

Margarita pizza
I am on a personal quest at home to perfect the humble margarita pizza – actually, I’m obsessed! Even in cold weather, I am often out in the garden with just my pizza oven for company.

Hummus is such a versatile side dish and not just a snack in my house, often enjoyed as part of a meal – I think I have made every flavour going. I never waste the chickpea water either, as it whips up just like an egg to make beautiful vegan meringues.

Quinoa, butternut squash and sweet potato ‘sausage roll’
When I gave this plant-based roll to my carnivore friends, they were convinced there was meat in there. I caramelise the butternut squash and sweet potato along with some garlic and toast the quinoa before cooking it so it has a lovely nutty taste. Then I mix it all together with some herbs, cumin, salt and pepper.

Pain au chocolat
While working in a hotel in the Bourgogne region of France at the start of my career, a warm pain au chocolat from the local boulangerie was an absolute highlight. If I timed it right, I caught them when they were fresh from the oven, which either meant getting up very early or catching them on the way home after a late service.

What one book would you take with you?
An encyclopedia. I have read a lot of chef and footballer autobiographies, and when on holiday a book doesn’t last very long, so an encyclopaedia would keep my brain active.

What luxury item would you take with you?
A radio, as I’d need to have some music, news and sport to listen to. If it’s a desert island, it will have to be a wind-up radio and I’ll just hope there’s a transmitter nearby as I’m not sure my Alexa or Spotify would work there!

Finally, if you were only allowed one dish which would it be?
The Cornish pasty reminds me of cooking with my nan at her home when I was very young. That’s where my passion for food came from and was the real start of my culinary journey.

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