As owner of The Yellow Door Deli, baking is very much a way of life for Mr Dougan, from his grandmother’s traditional recipes to his wife’s passion for wholesome food
My early inspiration as a baker came from my grandmother, Joy Hill. As a child I watched her bake bread every day at the family farm, outside Keady, Co Armagh. I well remember nibbling bits off the loaves she baked when they were fresh out of the oven, much to her annoyance.
She was a traditional baker and I have tried to copy her recipes, but she gives me old-fashioned directions like “take as much soda bread as will fit into the palm of your hand...”
My mother, Lorna Dougan, is also a good baker. There’s a nostalgic aspect to it all — something really rewarding about making such a wholesome, simple food and doing it well. It’s a staple of life, after all.
As regards other chefs, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is someone I admire for his ethos towards food.
I met him once in London at a reception for people working in the hospitality industry. He’s a very down to earth sort of guy and told me he had to leave early the next day to go home to his farm to pull the neck of a goose for the Christmas dinner, because no one else would do it.
I also love Rick Stein for the simplicity of his cooking.
It takes a lot of confidence and skill to produce such good quality food in the way he does.
And of course, I can’t talk about those who have inspired me without mentioning my wife Jilly.
She had a farm shop, specialising in rare breeds, long before anyone else, and she lives and breathes food every day.
We have just taken delivery of our first beehive and hope to be able to produce our own honey soon.