The Meath-born chef and restaurateur on ditching work to see Irish band A Lazarus Soul, and the allure of Rotterdam
Current favourite book
When I feel like laughing, I read
Kurt Vonnegut. Right now, I’m reading The Crimean War: A History, by Orlando Figes. I picked it up in a charity shop in Muswell Hill and I’m enjoying it. I like anything to do with history – it defines the past and the future. I’ve always had an interest in it, coming from Ireland. I like to know why, what, and how, especially how conflicts could have been avoided.
There’s a place called Lignum – Latin for wood – in Loughrea, Co Galway, by a young boy called Danny Africano. He’s Italian-Irish and he’s hand-built a restaurant down in the countryside. It’s this sleek, Japanese-meets-Scandinavia-meets-rural Ireland restaurant, with bedrooms attached [opening in 2020]. I mean, come on, hats off. It’s unbelievable. Ireland has come a long way for me to visit a place like that, which I did a month ago. The food was modern Irish and all cooked on wood – a bit like we do in Daffodil Mulligan in London. I try to avoid places with lots of courses, so it’s the only one I’ve gone to in years. I drank some amazing wines too. It’s the future. I was humbled by everything.
Who’s that Scottish mad b**tard from BBC Radio 4? Frankie Boyle. Because you can never be too provocative as a comedian. Everything is up for discussion, and it’s only comedy. When we take comedy seriously, we need our head examined. We’re all there to be ridiculed, so let the comedian ridicule everybody. Let’s all not get all Nazi Germany.
I like Charlie Tyrrell, he’s Ireland’s leading abstract boy. I commissioned two pieces from Charlie for Virginia Park Lodge and asked him to hang it on the wall. There’s nothing like commissioning a painting and getting the painter to hang it himself. And I like Alan Parker, who sometimes does portraits, but looks at nature wonderfully. I just commissioned a piece from him of wild salmon. We’ll hang it in Bentley’s in London. Alan has a painting of me somewhere but I told him to keep it, and maybe give it to someone when I’m not on this earth. I’d never ask for a portrait – it’s the highest form of self-indulgence. I don’t ever intend to let it happen to me.
I’m listening to two albums at the moment, both are Irish at its best. One of them is Lankum’s The Livelong Day; the other is A Lazarus Soul’s The D They Put Between the R & L. A Lazarus Soul have only done a couple of gigs in Ireland this year and I went to see both of them: All Together Now, and I flew in to Dublin last Thursday even though it was in the middle of a disaster before the opening of Daffodil Mulligans. Brian Brannigan has to be one of the best songwriters living in Ireland. It’s unbelievable that they can’t get airplay in Ireland, it’s outrageous.
I lived in Rotterdam and Amsterdam for years before I lived in London, and I loved them both. Rotterdam is my favourite because it’s gritty, industrial and it’s creative. I’m still half Dutch in my head. If you ask me a question, it might not be the answer you want, but at least it’s a good, straight answer, and the Dutch are brilliant at that. I lived in Delfshaven, in a top-storey room right across a Pilgrim’s Church. I looked out on to the top of the kerk, and I used to go there every New Year’s Eve as the wonderful Rotterdam Philharmonic would play a New Year’s Eve concert there. It was a most beautiful introduction to classical music.
My kitchen drawers and full of bits and bobs, and even though I know I’ll never use them, I can’t allow myself to throw them out. When I was looking for things to take into Daffodil Mulligans, I found a battery-operated mini whisk. I mean, f**k me, that’s unbelievable. What was I thinking. It must have been from the days when you needed froth on top of everything.
Dazed and Confused ( Richard Linklater, 1993)
A terrific coming-of-age film that helped launch many of the key talents in 1990s independent cinema. Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck and Parker Posey are there among the dope smoke.
Dirty Dancing ( Emile Ardolino, 1987)
The very model of a film that initially played to modest hurrahs before hardening into an indestructible cult. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are a couple for the ages.
Dolemite Is My Name ( Craig Brewer, 2019) Eddie Murphy confirms he’s still got it (and a bit more) in this busy, hilarious biopic of the Blaxploitation pioneer Rudy Ray Moore.
The Endless ( Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, 2017)
Who? What? Where? Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead pile on the puzzles as two men revisit the cult that mucked them up as children.
Enter the Dragon ( Robert Clouse, 1973) The film that introduced Bruce Lee to his widest audience is a ludicrous post-Bond melange of espionage and evil megalomania. But nothing can detract from Lee’s charisma and martial gifts.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* ( Woody Allen, 1972) Nominally an adaptation of a bestselling self-help book, Allen’s real aim is to pas