Friday 20 September 2019

'It turned into tar at the bottom of the oven' - Dermot Bannon on his Christmas cooking disaster

Dermot Bannon of ‘Room to Improve’. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Dermot Bannon of ‘Room to Improve’. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Dermot Bannon has partnered with Vodafone
Room to approve: Architect Dermot Bannon
Dermot Bannon
Dermot Bannon on Room to Improve
Dermot Bannon
TV architect Dermot Bannon
Dermot Bannon
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

TV architect Dermot Bannon will delve deeper into his creative side tomorrow when he cooks Christmas dinner for his family.

The Room to Improve architect, who says cooking and baking are his main de-stressors, has a speciality in fact: making a different style of ham for his brood every year.

"I do all the cooking,” he tells

“I love Christmas dinner and I love doing all of that. Like every year, Neven (Maguire) always does a TV show at Christmas time and he does something different with the ham and that’s my little Christmas treat. I record that and I make the ham the exact same way Neven has done it and so we have a new ham every year.”

“The only bit that gets me stressed is the serving it up, because my mum was a home economics teacher so she always drilled into us that ‘everything has to be on hot plates’ and ‘everything has to be the right temperature’, and I can never get it that way.”

Dermot revealed earlier this month that he lost his own father a while ago and said that Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year for those who have lost a beloved family member.

"I think a lot of people going through this maybe think they're going through it alone.  They're not. There's thousands. There's very few families that aren't affected by it in some way," he said.

Dermot, his wife Louise and his three children have been renting a temporary home while Dermot works on their new dream home in his beloved Drumcondra in Dublin 9.

The architect is creating a living space for the family which includes an open-plan living space, with little "snug" areas emanating from it.

But as construction winds down over Christmas time, Dermot says he'll be found toiling over the stove in his pyjamas.

“I find cooking and baking is my escape, and an aul sea swim... and I always go for a swim on Christmas Day.”

“Christmas Day is one of my favourite days because I do all the cooking and I get my sea swim."

But, he admits, one year his young family very nearly went without their ham.

“I made a ham one year right, and I steam my ham in cider in the [tray]. But whatever happened, I left it on, I slow cooked it for five hours, and all of the Bulmers came out over the side of the ham and then turned into tar at the bottom of the oven."

Dermot, dad to Sarah, James and Tom, claims that he's quite hands on in ensuring they don't get too many sweet treats. Healthy cakes are his speciality.

“It’s normally cakes, so brownies are my [speciality]. I gave up wheat a few years ago to try and kind of control the diet a little bit so I’m obsessed with finding wheat free. My favourite thing is Domini Kemp gave me this recipe, it’s a chocolate cake made with almonds and olive oil which you wouldn’t think is very nice... but it is the best thing ever.”

“Also I’m kind of conscious of the kids at home and their diet. Everyone just loves chocolate so I am a lot of the Happy Pear guys’ stuff – their treats.”

“Once you convince them that there are no nuts in it, even though it’s completely made of nuts, they eat it. So I’ve a son now who hates nuts, I just don’t sprinkle the almonds on top, and he doesn’t know that it’s actually made of walnuts, almonds and oats.”

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