Belfast Telegraph

All the best: Chef Simon Dougan's favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 45-year-old is a chef and managing director of the Yellow Door catering company. He lives with his wife Jilly near Portadown.

My best moment

There have been a lot of those lately. A great one was last year when Prince Charles and Camilla came to visit the store in Portadown. They were absolutely delightful - she had a gin and tonic and he had a glass of cider.

My best song

That has to be Don't Stop Me Now by Queen. It's a great driving song and I really do love the energy of the track.

My best way to relax

I don't get a lot of opportunities to wind down. However, we have a garden at Yellow Door kitchen where we grow a lot of vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, so on a Sunday I like to potter around there with a glass of wine on a sunny afternoon. And when we on holiday I love shopping in the markets there - sometimes Jilly has to drag me out of them. I must sound like a total anorak but I love food and being a chef. Working in this wonderful industry is a way of life for me not a job.

My best job

Being a chef. I've spent all my life in and around kitchens and got my first job when I was 16 at the Gosford Hotel. I started at 7am and my first shift lasted for 18 hours. I've been working in kitchens ever since.

My best advice

Take every opportunity and never give up. My grandmother gave that to me years ago and there's always been a very strong work ethic in my family. I'm one of 10 - five brothers and four sisters - out of the 10, eight of us work at the Yellow Door.

My best movie

It has to be Shawshank Redemption. It's gritty and has a really good story about someone who doesn't give up. I'm a big film fan and watch a lot of movies. If I come home from an event at 2am it can be hard to relax straight away, so I put the TV on - usually the only thing on at that time are movies. They help me unwind.

My best gift

When we first got engaged my wife bought me a trailer. It was a wonderful present because I could put all of my crockery, cutlery and function gear in it. I bought her a toaster in return - but that wasn't accepted quite as warmly as my trailer.

My best achievement

The progression of the Yellow Door. The success has enabled me to open other stores and bring my brothers into the business. Now, they run events on their own. It's great to see career progression for those in the company. I'm a people person and we have a really great team of employees who do fantastic work and I'm very proud of them.

My best buy

Our Poly Tunnel. We can grow fantastic produce in there most of the year and I love picking and enjoying the very freshest food possible.

My best book

I do read but I lose concentration very quickly so I go for short stories or things that are snappy. I like Motormouth by Jeremy Clarkson for that reason.

  • Chef Simon Dougan of Yellow Door will team up with Finnebrogue Artisan consultant chef Chris Burt on Friday, September 23, to create a dinner to remember at the Hans Sloane Chocolate Ball, which will mark the launch of the Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate and Fine Food Festival.

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