Martin Shanahan was raised in Fermoy, in North Cork, where food was a big part of Martin's growing up. Martin learned to cook in Rockwell College, and then had a placing in the Butler Arms in Waterville, in County Kerry, where many of his skills were honed and refined.
In the 1980s Martin's cooking took him to San Francisco, where his love of fish cookery intensified. After returning from San Francisco, Martin and his wife, Marie, set up the original Kinsale Gourmet Store, a fish shop and deli. After seven years as fish retailers in the Gourmet Store, Martin opened up the first Fishy Fishy in the Guardwell in Kinsale.
The Fishy Fishy Restaurant opened in 2006. Martin and his team have stuck with an ethos of using and cooking local, fresh, seasonal fish served in an informal context, with staff who take real pride in their work.
"Fish is nature's fast food. It is a gift, not a commodity, and deserves our respect", is the way Martin has always explained the philosophy behind his business. In 2009 Martin filmed the first of a successful series of television programmes, Martin's Mad About Fish. This spawned a second series in 2011, Martin's Still Mad About Fish, both filmed for RTÉ Cork.
Martin also has a number of successful cookery books to his name, Irish Seafood Cookery and The Seafood Lover's Cookbook, both written with Sally McKenna, and in 2011, Martin's Fishy Fishy Cookbook, which quickly became a best-seller.
Martin teamed up with Paul Flynn to feature in the series Surf n’Turf which aired on RTÉ. Martin and Paul embarked on a fantastic trip around Ireland from Cobh in Cork to Glenn Colm Cille in Donegal. They were challenged to create signature dishes for every area they visited, using only the best of local ingredients. Martin created the Surf dish while Paul served up the Turf. They had 24 hours to source local produce before creating their unique dishes. He is a resident chef on the afternoon show RTÉ Today.
Following the success of the Surf n’Turf series, Martin and Paul’s Surf n’Turf by Martin Shanahan and Paul Flynn was put together to share the recipes of the series. This book contains all those dishes plus a host more – 80 in all – divided into chapters on Starters and Soups, Salads, Quick, Slow and Easy, Comfort Food and Food to Impress. Martin included his fresh modern seafood dishes and Paul included dishes from the turf feature.