How did you get started?
It all started in Cultra, 1975, when I worked with a business man performing gardening tasks. He then purchased a Hotel in Donaghadee, Co Down called the Old Forge Hotel. I started working there in the gardens and then in the winter months he asked me if I was interested in helping the Chef in the kitchen and so it began. I then went to Catering College in Portrush where I did 18 weeks in College and 18 weeks in the Culloden Estate & Spa for 2 years, after which I graduated and worked permanently in the Culloden Hotel as Commis Chef in 1977. It was a hotel I was always interested in from afar, as it sat in Cultra and I frequently saw people coming and going while I did the gardens as a young man.
What is the best piece of business advice you could give?
My father was a hard working Civil Engineer who taught me to work hard and be reliable, but don’t forget to spend time with your family and those important to you. I have tried to follow in his footsteps and although I, like every Chef, work long hours I enjoy time with my family and holidays away together so I work hard and play hard.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?
Busy, still evolving myself and my Brigade to support the Culloden Estate & Spa in continuing to be recognised as the leading 5 star hotel in Northern Ireland and The Mitre for having the best fine dining.
If you could only use one ingredient in in your menu, what would it be and why?
Scallops have been on the menu throughout my career in Culloden and when they are on the menu they are still the best seller regardless of whether they are cooked or ceviche. When in season, hand dived Scallops from Strangford Lough are among the best in the country and I enjoy preparing them.
You can invite one person living or dead to your last meal, who would it be and why and what’s on the menu?
It would have to be my son Sam who is also a Chef. He is training in a Marco Pierre White restaurant in Belfast. We would have Rib Eye Steak, both cooked rare with Pont Neuf and Béarnaise Sauce. Nothing fancy but we both love a good steak and would talk about our day and enjoy a glass of red wine or two. As we both work long hours it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up and we would finish it off with a slice of my mum’s Lemon Meringue Pie for me and my sister’s Pavlova for Sam