Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

'Whatever age you are, it's your mum you turn to ... she supports me on every level'

By Stephanie Bell

Paula McIntyre credits her mum with instilling in her a passion for good food and cooking. However the much-loved local celebrity chef does admit that, as school teachers, both of her parents, Rea and David, were not keen on their only daughter's choice of career.

When Paula was starting out in the 1980s, celebrity chefs were unheard of and cooking was frowned upon as a career.

When it became clear, however, that she had no interest in university, her parents supported her decision to pursue cooking, and are now rightly proud of her success in the media and as a writer of two best-selling cookbooks.

Paula (50) and her sister-in-law Dorothy will together cook a special meal for both their mums tomorrow.

Her brother David (47) and Paula still live close to their parents' home in Aghadowey.

Paula says: "We always get together on Mother's Day and sometimes we go out to eat, but this year my sister-in-law is cooking for her mum, and my mum and I will help out.

"I always buy mum a present. It is a day we like to celebrate."

Paula's mum (76) was head of a small primary school while her dad (79) was headmaster of a local secondary school.

Her parents are both retired many years, and her mum is a keen gardener who writes a column for an Irish gardens magazine.

Paula remembers her mum cooking up adventurous meals when she was a child and indulging her daughter's love of cooking by allowing her to choose whatever she wanted from her selection of cookbooks.

Paula says: "Mum was a brilliant cook and very adventurous. Whenever I was growing up in the 1970s she would have cooked spaghetti bolognese and stuff like that and she even bought proper parmesan in a deli in Edinburgh.

"She had these Cordon Bleu cook books and she would have indulged me in my teens by letting me cook whatever I wanted from them. If I fancied cooking duck breast, she would go out and buy them for me.

"We always had good food in our house. It wasn't always elaborate, but it was good vegetables and meat. Mum also baked her own wheaten bread."

Paula and her mum enjoy a close relationship, and she describes her mum as intelligent with a great sense of humour. In fact, she says these are the qualities she most admires in her mum.

She says: "Mum reads a lot and is cerebral and she likes a laugh. If me and my brother and his family are over for a meal, mum is usually crying because she is laughing that much.

"She loves her garden and in the same way I am a bit obsessive about cooking she would be like that with her garden.

"I didn't inherit it. She has bought me a few plants which I have managed to kill, so we just agreed she can do the growing and I will do the cooking.

"I admire mum's intelligence and wit and she is very supportive of me. Also, no matter what age you are if you don't feel well it is your mum you turn to, and mum supports me on every level."

Belfast Telegraph

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