Tell us about yourself

I was born in hotel room number 4, Mahon’s Hotel. I went to the Cookery College and College of Business Studies in Belfast and Manchester University. I have always worked in the family-run business. I have worked in numerous hotels in N. Ireland and England. I have been back in Irvinestown from 1982 and have no intentions of changing. I am 59 years young and I live in at the bottom of Bull Lane, Irvinestown for the past 34 years, beside the black pipe – the best place to live in Irvinestown.

What role did food play in your childhood?

I was born and grew up in Mahon’s Hotel so I was always in the kitchen watching chefs, and waiters serve and cook food. I was intrigued by all the goings on and so developed my love of food from that.

Can you remember some of your first meals as a child and what they were like?

My father always made me eat liver, bacon and cabbage and had it regularly. It put me off it for a while, but we resurrected it and it is a favourite on our menu. Since then I have got to like it again.

How did you develop your interest in food?

I always enjoyed the atmosphere in the kitchen and the craic. I was shown how to cook dishes from an early age and continue to do so to this today.

As an adult what does food mean to you now?

I enjoy food and especially cooking and love going to different restaurants to see what they do. I love barbecuing for family and customers and if they enjoy it, that means a lot to me.

Can you recall the best meal you have ever eaten?

My favourite meal is lamb chops, beans, homemade chips, raw onions and brown sauce, but the best meal I ever had was the 40th anniversary meal of our Catering Class Course made by head chef Vincent in the hotel, it was fantastic.

How important is food to families today?

Growing up in hotel I always ate in the kitchen, but since I got married and had a family, I always try to eat one meal a day at home with the family and sit round the table with a proper meal: meat, vegetables and spuds.

As you grow older what are you learning about food?

I love watching cookery programmes and as I got older I am still learning and trying new dishes.

What is your favourite meal? Name your favourite starter, main and dessert.

Favourite starter: Smoked Salmon and Prawns, Main Course: lamb chops, beans, homemade chips raw onions and brown sauce, Dessert: Jam Sponge, Custard and Cream.

Name your three ideal dinner guests and what you would cook for them!

Jimmy Dundas who tells me lies all the time of what he did in the festival, but it is good craic. Paddy McCann for all his wit over the years and my darling wife, Marie. I would do a dish in the slow cooker, to have it ready when needed and to enjoy the craic as it cooked. Probably spicy meatballs and pasta.

How vital is food tourism to Fermanagh and how do you see it evolving?

Food tourism is very important to Fermanagh and it is brilliant to see all the new products coming out in the last few years, black bacon, Fermanagh gin etc. It is also great to see the Enniskillen food and drink tour; we have come a long way. In our hotel we have had people coming all the way from Philadelphia to taste our liver, bacon and onions. It is great to promote our traditional dishes.