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My Weekend with Great British Menu star Phelim O’Hagan

Phelim O’Hagan is Head Chef of Browns Bonds Hill, Derry


Chef Phelim O'Hagan

Chef Phelim O'Hagan

Sean Bean and Stephen Graham in TV drama Time

Sean Bean and Stephen Graham in TV drama Time

Chef Phelim O'Hagan with judge Daniel Clifford on The Great British Menu

Chef Phelim O'Hagan with judge Daniel Clifford on The Great British Menu


Chef Phelim O'Hagan

The best time to get up at the weekend is …

As early as possible. My children are six and four, so every day is a 7am start. I would love a lie-in now and again. Sometimes, they get into bed with me and watch cartoons for a while, but that’s a rarity, so 7am is wake-up time.

I’m not a morning person at all, I never have been, but actually it’s great to be up at that time. You get so much

Breakfast or brunch?

I am never hungry in the mornings. I tend to get showered, get ready and get out the door. Brunch is when I first eat in the day usually around noon. If I have a day off, I love going to Scarpello’s which is a local bakery.

They do the most amazing cinnamon rolls which are out of this world. Bringing those back to have in bed with coffee is the best thing.

Are you a weekend cleaner?

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For me, my weekends are usually Sunday and Monday because of work. That’s when I catch up on the housework, especially the laundry and the ironing, so yes, I am a weekend cleaner.

Like most people, there aren’t enough hours in the week to get it all done.

What’s an ideal Saturday look like?

If I have the day off work, it’s the usual wake up at 7am and we love to set off somewhere for the day. Our favourite place is Downings Beach in Donegal. We pack up the car and head off. The weather doesn’t matter.

The brilliant thing about Downings is that you can drive the car onto the beach. We have all the toys, towels and the picnic with us and we spend the whole day there. It’s our happy place.

Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?

Definitely outdoors. I try to get out as much as possible. When I go for a walk, I always have my eyes on the ground. I love foraging. Where I work in the waterside has brilliant woodlands close by and I live half a mile from Gransha Woods.

That’s where I go for wild garlic and there are wild mushrooms in Ervey Woods.

How have weekends changed as your children got older?

They are still very young but they are out of the toddler stage now, obviously at six and four. Like all children, they love watching cartoons but they far prefer to be outside on their bikes.

I’m just at the stage where I am trying to get the training wheels off the bikes. They love beaches in any weather and we are so lucky to live within short drives from Portrush, Portstewart, Benone and Donegal.

They can climb rocks, build sandcastles and get lots of fresh air.

Where is your favourite place to eat out?

Time to eat out is scarce with kids but I would usually go to one of the Browns group because I know the standard of food and service will be top notch.

There are four restaurants in the group — Browns Bonds Hill, Browns in Town, Ardtara and 1894 at Portstewart Golf Club.

Otherwise, I would go to Entrada in Derry. It has an open fire grill for steaks and they do lots of tapas. It’s just really nice and relaxed.

And you’d have …

This is exactly what I would have with my girlfriend. We have tapas of Padron peppers (I love spicy food), cured meats and croquetas followed by a ribeye steak. I never have dessert because I am usually too full after all that.

You’ll always make time to …

Spend with my children. If I do a split shift I have a break during the day, so I will take them to the park. It’s just 300 yards away from the house and work.

It’s really important to take time whenever you can and make those memories.

Who would you most like to go for a drink with?

Apart from my girlfriend, I would actually like to have a drink with Daniel Clifford who was my judge on Great British Menu. I’d love to be able to get inside his head a bit.

I really rate him and he is a lovely guy.

If it’s dinner time and you’re staying in what are you ordering from the takeaway?

It’s always a Chinese and we always order far too much. I like lots of different things. There will be lots of starters, a noodle dish, a rice dish and a curry. I love sharing food.

You’re at home what film are you watching?

Usually, cartoon films but grown-up films will always be something from the Marvel series. We go back to them time and time again.

Anything good on TV?

I don’t tend to watch much TV but I really love Bake Off: The Professionals and any cookery show. I tend to binge watch series. I did all of Line of Duty in one night when I got to bed at 4.30am.

There was a really good prison series on BBC recently called Time. I enjoyed that.

What are you reading?

It won’t surprise you to learn that I read a lot of cookery books. The latest one is Modern Pastry Techniques. I also just recently re-read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

He was such an amazing character. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since he died.

I also like to read a lot of biographies.

Bedtime is …

Usually around 2am. I aim for that at least. I get in from work about 11.30pm or midnight and I need to have something to eat and then just wind down for a while.

Browns Bonds Hill, 1 Bonds Hill, Derry, BT47 6DW; tel: 028 7134 5180; www.brownsbondshill.com

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