All The Best: Gary McIldowney on his favourite things
The 32-year-old lives in Belfast with his fiancée Karen Magill and their son Caleb (2). He is the owner and founder of Slim's Healthy Kitchen restaurant chain.
My best moment
Caleb being born was certainly my best moment. He’s a holy terror at the moment but no one has any sympathy for us, telling us it’s the terrible twos.
My best song
Fans by Kings Of Leon has always been a favourite simply because I like the tune. It’s never been a hugely popular song but I spent years Djing and it’s one that people always danced to.
My best way to relax
I don’t get a lot of spare time these days and I’m very highly strung. I don’t drink, so one of my favourite things to do was to go to the cinema, although I haven’t managed to go in about six months. I’m not a real movie buff, it’s just that I particularly enjoy the ritual of going to the cinema.
My best job
I have to say my current one. We seem to be opening a new Slim’s Kitchen more and more frequently. That wasn’t really our plan, but we’ve done very well. With the opening of the new restaurant in Dundonald we’ll be up to 150 staff.
My best advice
My dad gave it to me just a couple of weeks ago — once is a mistake, twice is a decision. It’s all about learning from your mistakes. If something happens a second time then it’s because you have made a conscious decision to let it happen.
My best achievement
Opening Slim’s Healthy Kitchen has to be my best achievement. I was talking to an old school friend who told me I should go back and tell my careers teacher that she didn’t know very much — although to be fair I was never much of an academic. I started working for a company installing CCTV and burglar alarms before I decided to take this on. It can be a little daunting to think that I’m responsible for 150 or so car payments and 150 or so mortgages but the whole experience has been good.
My best buy
I have to say Kate’s engagement ring. I love technology and cars but I think that’s the safest answer. We’re getting married in April next year and we got engaged in New York just before Christmas. It was very simple and just in our hotel room. A friend of mine even offered to put the proposal up on a big screen in Times Square as he works for Nike, but I didn’t do any of those things. She hadn’t a clue it was coming. Kate made me a scrapbook for my 30th birthday and I finished the scrapbook with the proposal in it and woke her up with that. Thankfully she said yes.
My best gift
My first car. My parents bought me an 11-year-old Citroen Saxo for my 20th birthday. I had been learning to drive for a couple of years up to that point and I finally passed my test with that car. It really gave me a sense of independence.
My best film
The Shawshank Redemption — it’s a boring choice but it is a film I can come back to time and again. I also really like Braveheart. I like big, emotional blockbuster movies.
My best book
I much prefer listening to audio books and I’m not into fiction or novels. My favourite audio book is called Scaling Up by Verne Harnish and it’s about how to scale up your business. There are a lot of tips in it that are easily applied to every day business.