Nathan Dimond, Head Chef
Born in the Rhymney Valley, South Wales, Nathan left home at 16 to begin working in kitchens.
Starting in London, at Petersham Nurseries, he worked with a daily view across the River Thames until he left for Chateau Longueville Manor in Jersey.
It was here that Nathan’s affinity with hyper-locally grown fruit and veg began in the three-acre kitchen garden and out on the manor’s private fishing lake.
Nathan’s kitchen didn’t buy a single vegetable each year between the months of April and September. Nathan says, “The morning finds totally dictate the menu. I begin with a crop of fresh vegetables from the Demesne then add fresh, local meat, fish and fowl.”
Having learnt to create daily menus from scratch using such ingredients, Nathan decided to further his culinary education and he moved to Powerscourt House near Dublin, to work in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen. He eventually left Powerscourt to train in classical French cooking in the centre of Dublin.
“Inspiration is all around, I even take cues from the Cliff bees that sometimes come up and tap on the Orangery windows.”
Nathan has also worked on private yachts for Russian oligarchs and in an Irish President’s house, yet his ethos has always remained the same a commitment to working with healthy, earthy foods that taste great and are produced as locally as possible.
Nathan was married at Lyons to his wife, the estate manager’s daughter. They now live there, with their 18-month old child.
Martijn Kajuiter, Executive Chef
Martijn, a six-foot-nine, Dutch-born chef, has worked with food from a very young age (his parents ran a bistro in the town of Groningen).
Executive Chef Martijn Kajuiter is the man behind the food at all CLIFF properties and most notably Cliff House Hotel – including the Irish fine dining experience at our award-winning House Restaurant.
Martijn’s cooking plays true to his instincts, elegant palette and deep-felt love of food from the earth, field and sea cooked with technical precision. A maverick to the core, Martijn’s obsessive passion resists the influences and trends of his industry, his contemporary take on traditional Irish food combining innovative presentation and commitment to great regional produce.
Martijn has built the Cliff at Lyons’ kitchen team around chefs who share both his passion for traditional Irish food and his obsessive attention to detail.
In his cooking he follows his instincts, his elegant palette and his deep-felt love of food cooked with technical precision. In 2013 his kitchen catchphrase, ‘Let’s Go Disco,’ became the unlikely title of his second cookbook.
Outside the kitchen, Martijn has spearheaded a unique initiative, a kitchen garden supported by the St Raphael’s Centre in Youghal, where people with special educational needs can work and grow seasonal vegetables.
“We’re proud of our ‘green fingers’ we like to show off as much of our own home-grown produce as possible, going so far as to create entire dishes around it.”
Martijn says “A garden forces you to work with what you’ve got; some vegetables look beautiful and some don’t, but all are usable. I’m interested in showing vegetables for what they really are and not how they often appear artificially uniform.
They often have a special character all of their own that deserves to be brought out and celebrated, and none more so than green asparagus.
The way we give it an extra dimension is by coming up with different preparations and common sense flavour combinations. To be honest, I love working with vegetables because they are the most versatile of all raw materials.”
The Potager Garden
This proximity is evident in the fresh snip of verbena in your morning tea, in the crushed mint in juices, to the French radishes chopped at your dinner table.
Unpretentious, healthy food is the culinary focus, with dynamic menus dictated not just by the season, but the day.
Generally dishes are low on sugar and fat, with more veg and less carbs on a plate. All meals are also generous in taste and portion sizing — comfort food that makes you feel good, while being best enjoyed with family and friends in a convivial atmosphere.