Paula McIntyre, director, Slow Food Northern Ireland
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
Paula McIntyre, I’m 55 and live in Portstewart. I’m a self-employed chef, food writer and broadcaster. Director of Slow Food Northern Ireland.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE?
There’s no such thing as a typical day in my life – every day is totally different. Recently I’ve been filming a new TV series so that’s been a big part of this year. Other days I might be doing a dinner, a demo, writing – no two are the same which suits me well.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
Last year BBCNI commissioned a TV series Paula McIntyre’s Hamely Kitchen and that has been a real unexpected joy. Getting an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2018 in recognition for contribution to food and drink in Northern Ireland was a major highlight.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I started my first job in a restaurant when I was 14 and I still love food, discovering new recipes and techniques. Because my work is so diverse, I love the variety of it all. I really enjoy working with likeminded people. Cooking has been an enduring love for me, and I still get a buzz from it.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT TASK?
Keeping up with accounts and book work. Numbers are not a forte of mine...
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
Always be yourself and never forget the bowl you were baked in.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE?
Greenwashing of products – the deceitful marketing of some big conglomerates to exaggerate their green credentials to gain favour with consumers. A major gripe is when menus namecheck local products but it’s obvious they’re not. And when chefs put salad leaves on a plate and don’t dress them...
WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?
I’d like to be able to sing like Barbra Streisand.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS/AMBITIONS?
I’m happy with the way things are going and my ambition would be to continue going as long as I can.
WHOM DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
There are so many people in my field that I admire. Sheila Dillon who presents the Food Programme on Radio 4 is a real advocate and food educator, who does it with style and has a great sense of fun. Angela Hartnett because she’ s a great role model and supporter of women, and a brilliant chef. And the chef Jose Andres who does so much good work globally with his World Central Kitchen providing meals in the wake of natural disasters and wars.
WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE?
Portstewart – I consider myself blessed to call this place home.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT?
Butter – it’s so versatile – for spreading on toast, baking with, for basting, as part of delicious butter sauces... everything tastes better with it.
HOW DO YOU RELAX?
I like barbecuing and have a Green Egg that I’m obsessed with. It gets lit most days and sometimes just for a flatbread and some veg or others for a full blown slow smoked lamb shoulder. I enjoy good wine and discovering new varieties. So, a relaxed day would be friends round, good wine, BBQ and a great soundtrack.
I like to sea swim all year round – nothing gets the pulse racing like a dip in the Atlantic Ocean in December.