Why writer Trish Deseine will give you food for thought with new culinary TV show
Accomplished food writer Trish Deseine, originally from Co Antrim, is part of a new move to put Northern Ireland on the global culinary map with the help of a new TV show beginning tonight. By Una Brankin
After a hugely successful career as a food writer in France, Co Antrim-born Trish Deseine has returned to her homeland in time for the 2016 Year of Food and Drink, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's drive to make us a foodie destination. And viewers can benefit from her culinary knowledge for the next three weeks in Trish Deseine's Doorstep Food, part of BBC Northern Ireland's Taste North food season.
In the first of three programmes, beginning tonight, Trish takes a look at supermarkets and meets some of the food producers who supply them. Three families, from Ballycastle, Ballymena and Belfast, also take on the challenge of eating and cooking exclusively with local food for an entire week.
"It has been fascinating for me, having lived in France for so long, to come back and make these programmes," says Trish (51). "For tonight's edition, I went shopping with the Barnsley family from Ballycastle, who are not quite as enthusiastic about food as I am - they only shopped at Asda online and were very budget-conscious. I encouraged them to buy nutritious local food, which came at a slightly cheaper price, and their whole attitude changed.
"My mission was to encourage everyone I met to develop a consciousness about where to shop for food, and it succeeded."
The award-winning food writer grew up as Patricia Brown in Doagh, near Ballyclare on her father Herbert's beef farm. A mother of four, she moved to west Cork in 2012 after the break-up of her marriage to a Frenchman she met in London, while working for the fashion retailer, French Connection. Her youngest goes to school in Paris and lives with their father. Her eldest son is a chef and the two middle boys attend university in England.
"I studied languages and always loved going on holiday to France," she recalls. "It has excellent food, of course, and it has been wonderful to come back and find some independent food stores in Ireland. There's one in Wexford which make a really interesting model for Northern Ireland, where there are none.
"It's not a fancy deli; it's a proper store selling cling film and washing up liquid, too, along with really nutritious local food. It is 100 yards from two local supermarkets, yet it's thriving."
Now one of France's most celebrated food writers, Trish has sold over one million cookbooks, including Trish's French Kitchen and Nobody Does It Better - why French cooking is still the best in the world.
She has presented two TV series and written countless articles both in English and in French.
In 2009 French Vogue included her in their 40 Women of the Decade list.
"It's seen as a badge of honour now to say 'I'm passionate about food', but I am," she says. "I grow herbs - those I don't manage to kill. I had a flower garden when I lived outside Paris; I don't have one in Schull but it's nice to be near the sea."
Over her three-part BBC NI series, Trish meets award-winning food and drink producers, such as the Armagh Cider, Hannan Meats and Abernethy Butter companies, and dines out in style in local restaurants, including Harry's Shack in Portstewart and Ox in Belfast. Along the way, she chats to Michele Shirlow, head of Food NI and the Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne; and explores St George's Market, Helen's Bay Organic Gardens and Broughgammon Farm, Co Antrim, which specialises in cabrito (kid goat meat), free range rose veal, seasonal wild game and hand harvested seaweeds.
"The Slow Food movement has been very good for Northern Ireland," she says of the body which promotes locally-produced food products and regional cooking.
"I support their ethos of clean eating, as in chemical-free, although I'm not saying I don't use dirty butter. And it's great that Paula McIntrye is now the chairperson of the branch here.
"That's good for local producers, such as dairy farmers. The way they have been treated is dreadful. Supermarkets have got to change the way they trade."
An expert on cheese, Trish enjoyed meeting Michael Thomson of Mike's Fancy Cheese, to talk about his raw milk range. And, as no Ulster foodie series would be complete without a nod to our delicious potatoes, she visits William Orr & Son to talk to Richard Orr about their Comber Earlies.
Trish Deseine's Doorstep Food is part of BBC NI's Taste North food season across TV, radio and online which begins tonight, 7.30pm, BBC One. For more info go to bbc.co.uk/tastenorth or visit www.tourismni.com/yearoffoodanddrink
Trish Deseine, who has sold over one million cookbooks, is presenting a new BBC NI series starting tonight