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All the best: Gareth McCaughey on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 39-year-old is the chef and owner of The Muddlers Club restaurant in Belfast. It opened just six months ago and has already been shortlisted for the best restaurant and best newcomer awards in the Irish Restaurant Awards. Gareth lives in the city with his wife Eimear Maguire and their children, Che (8) and Etain (7).

My best moment

My first service (the peak time in the restaurant's kitchen) in The Muddlers Club was a pretty big achievement. It took two years to get the restaurant off the ground. I always wanted to open my own place, but it took a lot of time to find the right site and get it up and running. We've been going for six months now and I couldn't believe it when we were shortlisted for the awards.

My best song

I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Creedence Clearwater Revival. We listen to a lot of rock 'n' roll music in the kitchen because the chefs like it. Spotify is the source for music here and this song just keeps popping up over and over and when it does we turn it up loud. It's become a bit of an anthem for The Muddlers Club.

My best way to relax

Drinking red wine works for me. I have a beer with the guys from the kitchen after a busy service and then I go home and unwind with a glass of red before I go to bed.

My best job

That was Working with the wboys at Ox restaurant. It's another place that came out of nowhere and broke all of the rules. Being part of it when it was all kicking off was a great experience. Ox took everything in a new direction which was nice to see. The guys there knew I would eventually go out to do my own thing. They gave me a lot of encouragement and pointers - the dos and don'ts of what to look out for. I couldn't have bought the knowledge they passed on to me.

My best bit of advice

It came from my mother and she always told me to dream big. She's always been very positive and always pushed me to my full potential. It was probably that encouragement from a young age that gave me the drive to achieve my ambitions.

My best movie

The Big Lebowski. I've watched a lot of brilliant movies down the years, but I could sit and watch that over and over again and I see different things in it every time I watch it. I am a big movie fan and my kids are getting into them now, too, so we constantly watch films in our house.

My best gift

My dad bought me a motorbike when I was in secondary school. It was brilliant, it gave me independence and started a life-long love of bikes.

My best achievement

My two kids. Being a dad is a brilliant thing and I don't get to see them enough because I'm at the restaurant so much. I make a point to bring them down every Friday afternoon so they can have a dessert and hang out a bit. I try and squeeze in as much time as I can.

My best buy

My Harley-Davidson motorbike. I've had it for about three years and it's parked outside the restaurant now that the weather has improved. If it's dry I take every opportunity I can to ride it.

My best book

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho - it's a book that I revert back to at different times of my life. I find that it helps me think and keep an open mind. My wife is even reading it to my sons at the moment. I'm not much of a reader but this book has always stuck with me.

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