The cafe owner reveals his amazing, sure-fire hangover cure and tells how a cookery course changed the way he looked at food
What was your favourite childhood meal?
I wasn't a great 'grubber' as a kid - my dear mother was only short of force-feeding me at times, but my go-to was a good old spag bol.
What is the meal you will always remember?
A five-course tasting menu with wine pairings in Bodegon Alejandro, San Sebastian in Spain. It was to die for. I have been back to San Sebastian a few times since, and it never disappoints.
What was your defining food experience?
I did the three-month Ballymaloe cookery course 10 years ago. It redefined the way I looked at food and the respect I had for produce and where it comes from.
What is your hangover cure?
In both of my cafes, we make our own home-made beans on toast, served with Hick's merguez sausage, a poached egg, feta and coriander. That, washed down with one of our apple and watermelon juices, sorts me out every time.
What is your comfort food?
Mashed banana with peanut butter and toasted nuts. Delish.
What's the first dish you ever cooked?
I started getting into cooking in my early 20s. I'd have friends over for dinner and I'd make them Asian chicken with toasted nuts and mint served in a lettuce cup. I thought I was next-level fancy altogether.
You can go anywhere and have anything to eat with any one person. Where, what and who?
It would have to be with my ridey partner, Jack - a talented chef himself - eating tasty tacos and drinking margaritas somewhere under a sombrero in Mexico. As my gorgeous Mexican pal Magsita Bonita would say: 'Just to enjoy the life!'
What do you drink?
It depends on the occasion. If I'm out for a few, I like a nice lager. On a summer's day, give me a light rosé and a nice Pinot Noir with a meal.
If you could only eat three things for the rest of your life what would they be?
Great bread, Irish butter and an assortment of [organic farmer] Jenny McNally's spuds.
What is the most appetising smell in the world?
Fresh scones out of the oven. I still get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I walk through the courtyard of The Cake Cafe first thing in the morning and get the smell of scones and Guinness bread just out of the oven. It's a great way to start the day!
How important is food to you?
Being in the food industry, food plays a part in everything I do, from life decisions to where my next holiday will be. It's everything.
What's your favourite restaurant in Ireland?
Recently, we had a stunning meal in Bastible on the South Circular Road. Cuan Greene is one of the most talented chefs we have in the city at the moment.
Worst meal ever?
I went to Florida last year with my family to do the whole Disney experience with my nieces and nephew. I went out of my way to try and find some great independent cafes, as I always do when I'm abroad - for research purposes only, obviously! I thought I had found a great spot, but when we arrived it was yet another chain with mass-produced food. It was not a good day.
Ray owns and runs The Cake Cafe, Pleasants Place, D8, and Slice, Manor Place, D7