Belfast Telegraph

Home Life

We ask Ian Orr about the relationships in his life

By Kerry McKittrick

The award-winning chef (31) is brand ambassador for supermarket giant Lidl and co-owner of the acclaimed Browns restaurant in Londonderry. He lives in the city with his wife Jennifer and their children Oliver (5) and Emily (6 months)

My wife, Jennifer

We met in a local bar in Derry and started going out together straight away. We had known each other in school but she never looked at me there. When we met again I had lost weight and wasn't wearing my glasses and she didn't recognise me at first.

Back then, Jennifer was a dental nurse but at the moment she's looking after the kids. She has always supported me and my career, and even came to London with me when I worked at the River Cafe for a few years. I wouldn't have gone over there without her.

My children, Oliver and Emily

Being a dad is absolutely brilliant. There can be a lot of pressure and stress when you're running a business but it all falls away when you come home to your family. The only problem is I work crazy hours and I don't get to spend enough time at home.

My best friend, James Parkhill

I've known James for years. We used to have a family caravan in Benone, as did his family so we would spend all of our summers knocking around together. We've been in touch ever since – he works as a brickie now. We do get out the odd time for lunch but it's more phone calls these days.

My parents, Margaret and Billy

My dad was a fire officer, but retired three years ago. My mum looked after us three boys. I have an older brother, Alan, who I'm very close to, and I also had a younger brother, Gary. He died of leukemia when he was 17.

It was a difficult time but we knew it was happening and everyone was able to say their goodbyes. My old boss, the local chef Robbie Millar, died in a car accident in 2005 so we never got that chance with him sadly. Gary's death has brought the family closer together, particularly at Christmas and birthdays. What helped my parents was when Alan and I both had our children and they were able to focus on the grandkids.

My parents have always supported me and helped me greatly – never once have they suggested I do anything else career-wise. We make sure to get together as a family every three weeks or so.

Who I go to for advice

From a business point of view it has to be my partner, Marcus Roulston. When he was taking over Browns he approached me to be head chef but I came on board as co-owner too. He's brilliant behind the scenes.

My secret crush... Sarah Cox

She was a DJ from BBC Radio One, back when I was a teenager, and there was always something about her voice that I really liked. At the moment I also like Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. My wife is mad about the character Jon Snow from the series too.

My mentor

Sadly, some of my mentors have passed away.

As I said before, I worked for Robbie Millar at his restaurant Shanks, near Bangor, and he got me the job at the River Cafe in London.

The owners there were Rose Gray, who passed away in 2010, and Ruth Rogers. They both took me under their wing and I like to think that I treat my staff the way they treated me.

My fantasy dinner party

I would like Gordon Ramsay there to cook dinner as I'm a big fan. Then, Elvis because I'm a big fan of his too and would love to meet the man in person. I would certainly like my brother Gary to come so he can see how good a cook I've become. And then I'd ask Heath Ledger, as I just love his films.

For recipe ideas from Ian, visit For details on Browns Restaurant, visit

I'd love Gordon Ramsay to cook dinner at my party

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph