The Indie Füde founder on the best local bars and restaurants
The best time to get up at the weekend is?
Weekends are the busiest time at Indie Füde, so I rarely get a weekend day off, whether that’s working in one of our delis or travelling around Northern Ireland with my little artisan cheese stall.
Breakfast or brunch?
When I do get the occasional Sunday off, I like to go to brunch with my friends, usually on the Belmont Road close to where I live. I’m a sucker for eggs Benedict and Morning Martha do a fab one.
What does an ideal Saturday look like?
I do love what I do, so it’s not so hard working behind the cheese counter or stall on a Saturday, chatting to customers about what new Irish cheeses we might have just landed. When I get a Saturday off, I love watching football with friends whether that’s in the pub or going over to my favourite city, Liverpool, to support the Reds.
What would your perfect Sunday be like?
On Sundays, I love going for a drive to the seaside, getting some great local seafood, an ice cream, and then heading for a long walk or even a cold dip to relax.
Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
I love outdoors, definitely, and it’s why I love working on my roving cheese stall, going to wonderful markets dotted all around NI. I’ve also recently taken up outdoor bowling with friends, again it’s a lovely way to relax on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
How have weekends changed as you have gotten older?
I still love going for dinner and drinks with friends and family, and I will usually venture out on a Friday or a Saturday night into the city centre. I love the Garrick Bar for its great Guinness, craft beers and cracking pub grub. And I am really looking forward to our friend Willy’s, from Bullhouse Brewery, new bar opening a bit closer to home in east Belfast in the next month. We’ve worked together a lot over the years and there’s exciting things to come.
If you could eat out anywhere tonight in NI, where would you go and why?
I really love Danny Miller’s restaurant, Stock, at St George’s Market. I love seafood and Danny cooks the best local seafood, all sourced downstairs in the market. I love the bar also and being able to sit and relax and hear the buzz from the market downstairs.
What would you have?
On a recent visit with our friends Tracey and Patrick from the Academy of Cheese, we all enjoyed the seafood casserole, followed by a great cheese plate of Young Buck and fruit soda.
At weekends you’ll always make time to…
Spend some time with my family and the family dog, Winnie. My Dad is an avid BBQ’er and Friday nights mean some local grass-fed beef cooked over hot coals; a family tradition I am keen to keep going.
Do you sometimes work at weekends?
Yes – mostly to be honest. With our new project Velocheese X Indie Füde starting to build up momentum, it’s important to be out and about meeting people and telling them about our upcoming events and cheese making projects.
Who would you most like to go for a drink with and why?
Jürgen Klopp – I am a massive Liverpool supporter, so you can imagine how that would go.
Are you a weekend cook?
I like to experiment in the kitchen – so I don’t really have a go-to dish. There’s always an exciting new Irish product to try out.
What’s your dream Sunday dinner?
After a busy weekend, the best Sunday dinners are ones we don’t have to cook ourselves.
Who do you normally eat Sunday dinner with and where?
I try to spend some time with my family and friends on a Sunday. There is a great restaurant within walking distance from my home in Ballyhack that do a super carvery. Roast chicken with all the trimmings from Neill’s Hill is my go-to.
Too tired to cook – what are you ordering from the takeaway?
Fish and Chips from Codzilla. There’s no other option as good. They use Comber spuds and beef dripping; chips as they should be.
Heading for the cinema? What are you going to see?
Sci-Fi films are my favourite, I love Alien and Heat.
Staying in… what TV/streaming/catch-up programmes are on the menu?
I like documentaries. There is always something to learn.
What are you reading? Fave type of book?
Recipe books are high on the agenda. They are great for inspiration, especially with so many different chefs making waves at the moment. My friends Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon have recently released their first cookbook Hot Fat, all about fried food. I have a list as long as my arm of recipes I want to try from it.
Unless I am out on the town, I am usually in bed by 11pm. I work best with a solid eight-hour sleep. A warming whiskey goes down well, something from our local distillery friends at Echlinville is a treat – not every night though.
Johnny McDowell of Indie Füde Independent Food Co was recently named as Blas na hÉireann Producers’ Champion for 2022 with business partner Laura Bradley, noted for their dedication to the best of everything Irish and independent.