Wayne Longbridge, from Longbridge Drinks Company, talks pizza, savoury dishes and why lemongrass isn't his favourite.
Do you think you're a good cook?
Well I will give anything a go… I do a pretty good pot of stew. I also enjoy cooking an Ulster fry for my family on a Sunday morning: sausage, bacon, egg, soda bread, potato bread, black pudding and pancake. No beans though… no place for them in a fry - maybe a bit controversial?
Your most memorable dish was…
Beautiful lamb chops cooked perfectly with mint sauce and baby potatoes, in Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca of all the places. This was maybe 10 years ago and I still remember sitting by the marina in the restaurant savouring these amazing chops.
Are you more sweet or savoury?
Savoury all the way. My wife Lora has the biggest sweet tooth I know. Her idea of heaven is entering a sweet shop and filling her basket. However I prefer a good cheese board with a quality Stilton included.
I'd love to be able to make…
A good homemade pizza. That would be amazing to impress the family with. Having a secret sauce and everything to go along with it.
Which food(s) do you dislike?
I can stomach most things except anything with lemongrass. We were in this lovely restaurant in Edinburgh around 15 years ago, and the tuna dish I ordered was totally overpowered with it. I think it's the only time I have ever left a full plate untouched. I have avoided lemongrass ever since.
Is there anything you won't eat?
Apart from the above, I cannot think of anything I wouldn't eat. I have even enjoyed the odd plate of tripe on occasions.
What's your favourite restaurant in NI?
Donegan's Restaurant, High Street, Bangor. They do the most amazing steak dishes and the service from Ivan, Lynn and the team is second to none. Always so friendly which makes us visit as a family regularly. We really have missed the meals and staff there the past year. Will be fantastic to see them and every other restaurant back in full swing soon!
What's your favourite comfort food?
Has to be Tayto Cheese & Onion on white bread with lots of butter. Or if we are out and about, nothing beats fish and chips in the car whilst parked up with a lovely view of the seaside.
What's your favourite cuisine?
I have to say Italian. It tends to keep things simple but always very tasty and fresh. I experienced genuine Italian dining in Rimini in the past. It was informal, relaxed and flavoursome cuisine.
Your last meal would be…
Rib eye steak, cooked medium, no sauce, with a side of green salad and a cold beer. Would finish off with homemade rhubarb crumble and local honeycomb ice cream from Riada NI.
Which celeb chef do you rate?
We love Gordon Ramsay at the moment. He is to the point, and seeks perfection every time. Our seven-year-old daughter loves watching his shows. We are currently binge watching Hell's Kitchen and we have to cover her ears quite a bit. Lucy, however, now has a passion for cooking and she would love to learn more. Closer to home, Paula McIntyre is one of our greatest ambassadors for local food and drink, from which she has created a treasure trove of local authentic dishes.
Do you enjoy a takeaway?
Most weekends at the moment, it is a Singapore chow mein from our local Chinese. Hard to beat after a long week.
What was the first dish you learned to make?
Not a dish as such, however, a beverage. My mother taught me how to make ginger wine from a family recipe passed down from my grandmother. When I was around 10 years old I made up bottles of the cordial for family and friends as gifts at Christmas. This is the same recipe I use today for my Papas Mineral Company Ginger Cordial and I suppose ignited my interest in developing soft drinks which has culminated in both www.papasmineralcompany.com and www.longbridgedrinks.com.