Chef Emilia Rowan talks to us about her healthy obsession with pairing quality and flavour at Dublin eatery Cocu.
Emilia, you describe Cocu as “a healthy obsession”. Tell us more about the philosophy behind your approach and how you source your ingredients.
When I came up with the concept four years ago I wanted to make healthy food that was delicious, nutritious and easy to eat. You eat with your eyes, so that was important too. I’d lived in New York and London and seen that hardly anybody cooks over there. That’s kind of the way we’re going here now.
I teamed up with Orla Walsh who’s a leading dietician and when I put the recipes together she would tell me if anything else was needed to make them well balanced and nutritious.
Our eggs and chicken are both Irish and free range. That’s really important to me and it’s something we like to shout about. We source our chicken from Armstrong meats and we also have Gubeen Chorizo, some of the best chorizo around. Our fruit and veg comes from Vernon Fruit and Vegetables, a great family run business who are very reliable in giving us the best products that they can get their hands on.
Our snack and drink suppliers are mainly Irish. We get an amazing high protein snack from the Biltong Company and Synergy Kombucha, a naturally fizzy and fermented tea drink, is one of my favourite things.
Vegan options are increasingly popular now. How does Cocu reflect that in its menu offerings?
We have great customers who tell me what they want and what they’d like to see. We look at having a good variety so that everyone from vegans to pescatarians to the things people like or don’t like is catered for. We want to have everyone eating in our restaurant and give them the best quality meat if they eat meat, otherwise everything can be made suitable for vegans.
You can swap out any protein for our marinated tofu or our vegan falafel, and if there’s anything like feta cheese in it we’ll swap that out for pickled carrots or something else. We change the menu three times a year, replacing our lowest selling salads with something seasonal and innovative. I do a lot of research and our latest innovation is a Chorizo Salad, which is going really well.
What do you think makes dishes from Cocu unique?
Quality and flavour pairings. We’re all about making it really easy for people to eat delicious food on the go and know that they’re getting good quality, healthy ingredients. If you let the quality slip people can taste it and they won’t come back.
Maintaining the quality and making sure it’s always the best that it can be is the main thing I do every day.
What would you recommend from the Cocu menu to those ordering for the first time online for delivery?
Our chefs are fantastic, so you can get great hotpots and soups made fresh every day. I’d also recommend going for one of our salad bowls. They’re what we started with and they’re what everyone likes.
The thing I love about ordering on Just Eat is that it gives you a step-by-step process of what to do. You can choose your bases, add your sprinkles and dressings and then if you want any extras you can go for things like boiled eggs or quinoa mixed on top.
What’s your own favourite item on the menu?
I’m usually working during lunch hour, so I like to eat a big breakfast. We do these lovely egg pots with eggs whisked up with rape seed oil on the pan and a little bit of salt and then you can have smoked salmon, or smashed avocado, or our home made baked beans or our fresh salsa on top with some sourbread toast from Arun Bakery. Delicious!
You can now order from Cocu Hatch Street for delivery to your home or office on the Just Eat app.