Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Friday people: Chef Danny Millar

Food fanatic: Danny honed his skills in restaurants here and in Germany
Food fanatic: Danny honed his skills in restaurants here and in Germany
Danny's daughter, Jessica
Danny with best friend, Andy (left)
Actor Jennifer Carpenter

The 42-year-old is the chef-director of Balloo Inns, and is one of many talented chefs taking part in the 2014 Lisburn Restaurant Week. He lives in Comber and has one daughter, Jessica (14).

My daughter, Jessica

Becoming a dad was without a doubt the best experience I ever had. You can't compare it to anything.

That first time holding my daughter was the best moment of my life.

Jessica has her head down at school these days – I threaten to take any boys she brings home out on a boat and drop them in the lough.

She's very good and even works part-time for me these days.

My best friends

I met Andy Rea when we were 16 and at college – he now runs the Mourne Seafood Bar.

I was from the New Lodge in Belfast, and he was from the Village, but we became best mates and have been ever since.

He went off to America to work and I went to Germany so for 10 years we didn't have much contact with each other. When we came back, though, we got in touch and get to hang out every couple of weeks.

My other best friend is Aaron Sullivan, who used to be a chef – we met at the Portaferry Hotel. He gave it up, though, and moved to Guernsey but it was him who got me hooked on food.

It is very handy having someone to visit on the island and he still comes to visit his family outside Downpatrick.

My parents, Danny and Eileen

My dad used to work for the Michelin tyre company in Mallusk and mum had her hands full with six children – me, my brothers Martin and Paul, and my sisters Roisin, Donna and Sinead.

We are a close family and we're all still around in Northern Ireland.

In fact, my parents both still live in the New Lodge.

They have always supported me in any job.

Unemployment was very high when I was growing up so anyone working at all was a good thing and I was always encouraged to get a job. My very first one was actually selling the Belfast Telegraph on Royal Avenue when I was 12!

The person I go to for advice, Ronan Sweeney

Ronan is my business partner – I know him through Andy as they used to work together in Paul Rankin's restaurant, Roscoff, back in the day. He's good to have a chat to along with Andy. We're in the same business and have the same outlook in life. If we saw someone lying in the street we'd both stop to pick them up.

My mentor

My head chef in Germany, Herr Myer. I arrived there after backpacking around Europe and knew about three words of German. He was very welcoming and helped to guide me – I stayed for four years.

Then there's Robbie Millar, who has since passed away. He used to run Shanks restaurant in Bangor where I worked after I came back from Germany. He lived and breathed food and I think I'm the same now.

My secret crush is ... Jennifer Carpenter

She's one of the stars of the TV show Dexter. I always liked her then I actually met her once while doing the cookery show Saturday Kitchen. She was lovely and looked absolutely stunning. That sealed the deal for me.

My fantasy dinner party

Yoda would be the first person – the man knows everything and would have wise words in between courses.

Next, for music I would ask Johnny Cash followed by Ricky Gervais for a bit of humour. Finally, I would ask Thomas Keller who owns the French Laundry in Napa Valley and is the best chef ever.

I would love to pick his brains.

  • Lisburn Restaurant Week runs from Monday to Sunday, June 16-22. For details, go to www.visitlisburn.com/restaurantweek; #Lisburnrestweek; Facebook/LisburnRestaurantWeek

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