[Chef Talk]

Ri Ra Irish Pub’s James Sawyer prefers bacon and A-1

James Sawyer is executive chef at Rí Rá Irish Pub at Mandalay Place.
Photo: Beverly Poppe

Rí Rá is part of an Irish pub chain with a dozen locations across the country, but the venue strives for authenticity. For James Sawyer, executive chef of the Mandalay Place location and a partial Irishman himself, it’s a responsibility he takes seriously. When he’s not toiling in the kitchen over authentic Emerald Isle staples like chicken curry and fish and chips, here’s what else he likes.

Favorite item on his menu: Anything with corned beef “Corned beef and cabbage or our Reuben. We take a minimum of seven days to brine our beef in-house. We purchase whole briskets, and I sit back there and trim the whole brisket myself. At any given time, there’s a minimum of 200 pounds brining, and on St. Patrick’s we’ll go through 400–600 pounds.”

Ingredient he’s currently obsessed with: Bacon “I think every good chef should have a romance with bacon at some point in their career. But of course, at some point you’re going to hate it, too, because it’s not the healthiest ingredient.”

Favorite condiment: A-1 Steak Sauce “I’m a fan of sour food. I love malt vinegar and lemon. I love Vietnamese cuisine, because of the lime juice and cilantro. I just love tangy flavors, and the tamarind in A-1 is something I really love. We have British HP and Irish Goodall’s steak sauces here, and they’re very similar, but I love A-1.”

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