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Take one young TV chef, add plenty of passion and watch viewers grow

KITCHEN Hero Donal Skehan is putting an extra sizzle in RTE's viewership figures.

The young cook has doubled his audience since returning to Irish television screens with his second series of quick and imaginative cookery programmes.

A former Irish pop star, Skehan (25) told the Herald: "It's brilliant that viewer numbers have doubled. RTE are absolutely thrilled."

He continues to show novice cooks how to create tasty dishes using simple ingredients found in most kitchens.

A growing number of professional chefs are hosting programmes in response to an explosion of interest in cookery. But Skehan is an amateur taught to cook by his mother and grandmother who is winning a huge audience.

He has swapped a successful music career to work as a specialist photographer of food. He turned his passion for cooking into a successful occupation, producing culinary blogs, recipe books, and the Kitchen Hero programmes.

He was part of the pop group Industry formed in 2009. The band had two No1 hits in the Irish singles chart with their debut single My Baby's Waiting and their follow up Burn. The group later broke up.

Skehan said his interest in food began at an early age when his parents were running a fresh produce company based in Finglas in Dublin. His aunt Erica Ryan was a 'food stylist' whose expertise was to make food look as enticing as possible in photographs for publication and promotion.

"I learned so much about food photography from her. I really enjoy my work with food now," he said.

In the first episode of the second Kitchen Hero series, he showed how planning can result in very successful barbecues. He showed how to prepare spatchcock chicken, sticky spare ribs, coleslaw, chorizo, a couple of marinades and some mojitos.