Michelin-star winner Paul Rankin 'became a chef by accident'
He became the first Northern Ireland chef to win a Michelin Star, but Paul Rankin has revealed how he got into cooking completely by accident.
Rankin is currently featuring in a new UTV series exploring the Ulster-Scots heritage in the US with his friend and fellow chef, Nick Nairn.
The eight part series launched on Friday with the chefs, who have been close friends for the past 20 years, embarking on a culinary journey to follow in the trail of the first Ulster-Scots who travelled and settled in the ‘New World’.
This is the fourth series featuring the chefs and the second time they have taken in the American trail on their travels. This time around they visit Virginia, North and South Carolina, East Tennessee and Washington D.C.
Learning about the history of the Ulster-Scots settlers sees the pair use the finest local produce to cook up a storm for Ulster-Scots descendants in each location.
Paul Rankin said: “On our travels across the pond we met some fantastic local people with historical connections to Irish and Scottish immigrants who journeyed to the States back in the 17th Century, bringing with them a traditional Ulster-Scots knowledge of food. And as always it was fantastic to share the experience with Nick.”
In a quick-fire question and answer video to promote the show, Rankin reveals how his ex-wife Jeanne got him into cooking.
The pair - who were married for 25 years - were travelling the world in their youth and on returning to Jeanne's native Canada and after a long summer spent on a beach she taught him how to "fake" being a waiter which landed the chef his first job in a restaurant.
"And the rest, as they say, is history," said Rankin.
Paul became the first chef to win a Michelin star in Northern Ireland, with Roscoff in 1999. He was also, for years, a regular on TV and author of five books.
At one stage, his empire included 15 different food businesses, until a combination of the economic downturn and over-extension saw that reduced to just one, Cayenne. Finally, in 2013, that too closed.
Paul and Nick’s Big American Food Trip will broadcast on UTV every Friday night at 8pm.