Thursday 26 April 2018

Waking hours... with TV chef Edward Hayden

Edward Hayden (31) is a TV chef, author and culinary lecturer. He was born in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, and still lives there. In his spare time, he is heavily involved in amateur dramatics

Kilkenny native, TV chef Edward Hayden. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Kilkenny native, TV chef Edward Hayden. Photo: Tony Gavin.

Ciara Dwyer

Every week I do a cookery slot on TV3 on Ireland AM, so on Tuesday mornings the alarm rings off at 4.15am, crazy o'clock. Welcome to the glamorous world of cooking. I get up at 4.30am, then it's into the shower and after that, I glam myself up as much as I can at that hour of the morning.

I love style. All my spare cash goes on the glamour. For the television, you're trying to get something that will make you look slim. People can be funny. The other day, I met a woman in the supermarket who said: "You have the same shirt on this morning as you did on last week's show." I've become very conscious about things like that. I should be doing the fashion slot.

I'm not a big fan of breakfast. I might have a slice of homemade brown bread and a cup of tea. Then I'd have a piece of fruit in the car. I live in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny. I leave the house at 5am to make it up to Ballymount. I'm on at 8.35 but they do three teasers beforehand. I do a recipe every week. It could be a dessert or a main course. The car is packed with dry ingredients and equipment the night before. Then there is just a box in the fridge with meat or vegetables, and whatever else is perishable. If you want a teaspoon, you have to bring it yourself. I always say that if the car is robbed during the night, there is no slot; or else I'll be doing the beauty of a poached egg.

I've been doing the slot for four and a half years. On my first morning on the show, I set my tea towel on fire. I was making chutney but I got so nervous that my tea towel got caught in the gas. I didn't even realise it was on fire. It was just the edge of it. The next minute the floor manager nodded over, so I folded it together and put it into the bin, not knowing that the bin would go up in flames as well. The phone didn't ring for three weeks after that. I thought, 'Jesus, my career in culinary show business is out the window.' But they called back, and I eventually got a weekly slot. I've watched my tea towel ever since.

Five days a week, I lecture in culinary arts in Waterford Institute of Technology. The majority of my students come in post Leaving Cert and they are all aspiring chefs. I enjoy it immensely. I get on quite well with the students. I think I'm a good teacher because I am quite young too, and I'm interested in what's going on in their lives.

Teaching and the TV cookery slots are the main strands to my working life. I'm also building a cookery school here in Graiguenamanagh. I was asked to do courses for groups of people but I didn't have a venue, so I decided to build one. We have the space at home. My late father used to have a very large shed, so we knocked it down, and now we're in the middle of building. I'm hoping to have it open for the summer. I'm a very last-minute person, but I'm successful that way. Hanging focuses the mind, as they say. I take things one day at a time and I don't worry about one until the other is over.

I suppose I would have learnt about food by osmosis. I don't have any memories as a little boy of standing up on a chair baking buns; but Mammy was the type who would bake bread one day and an apple tart the next. We had good quality, simple food. My first foray into catering was when I went to work in the local pub, The Duiske Inn. You did a bit of everything there, from cleaning toilets to washing spuds. Growing up, I always said that I wanted to be a teacher, an actor or a chef. I started an arts degree with the plan to become a teacher, but it wasn't for me. Then I headed home to study culinary arts. Food is very important in my life and I like all things to do with food. I love the whole social aspect to it and the way you are spreading enjoyment. I never had any desire to open my own restaurant because I'd end up giving people their dinners for free.

I've been doing Taste of Dublin for the past five years and I love it. Doing a demonstration in front of crowds can be daunting. Also, making a cake isn't the most exciting thing in the world, so you have to be add a bit of razzle dazzle to it. Everyone is interested in food these days and Taste is very well organised. There is never anything missing, except the weather, sometimes. The year before last I was wet to the skin and my legs were navy for three days because the dye ran down my jeans. I was nearly out with the nail brush scrubbing them.

I'm on the go all the time. Outside of work, my main hobby is drama and I'm very engaged with it. I adore it. I'm involved in a number of drama groups and I'm rehearsing two plays at the minute - a Ray Cooney farce, Out of Order, and I'm playing the lead in John B Keane's Sharon's Grave. Last week, I was icing a cake for a confirmation on a Sunday morning at 6.15 and I had my script on the windowsill. I was learning my lines at the same time. I used to do pantomimes and I played Prince Charming for six years, but then I stopped. You can only get away with playing Prince Charming for so long. One year you'll come back to find that you're the dame. So, I said no to that, even though they say there is nothing like a dame.

I'm very driven and I can squeeze a lot into my day. I don't sit down at night to watch Emmerdale or read the paper. I'm a go-go-go sort of person. I normally try to get to bed for midnight. If it's been a very stressful day, I might bring up one little gin and tonic with me. My books get written in the middle of the night and I also work on my blog. It's called Edward Entertains. With that sort of a title, you'd be surprised at the amount of emails I receive asking about multiple orgasms.

'The Sunday Independent' is official media partner to Taste of Dublin, celebrating 10 years this year. Taking place in the Iveagh Gardens from 11-14 June, tickets are available from

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