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Winning best chef made my week but there's no rest for a working dad

LINDA Martin 'got lucky' at the Restaurant Awards this week and so did I.

That was Monday and a great way to start a week that will end with the Taste Of Dublin.

From London to Cavan to Dublin, things have been hectic – and then there is quality time with the kids as well.

But I'll still have energy to do cooking demonstrations at the Iveagh Gardens tomorrow for Taste because it's one of my favourite events to do during the year.

My week got off to an exciting start when I won the Best Chef in Ulster at the Restaurant of the Year awards on Monday, so I was delighted.

I have a great team at home with my wife Amelda and I am very lucky to have them all.

Around 800 people were at the awards in Dublin's Burlington Hotel and what a night it was. It was really lovely food and I had 13 of my staff there so I enjoyed it.

Of course, Linda Martin grabbed most of the headlines for her performance of Get Lucky at the awards, but I thought she was brilliant. She really livened up the place and I thought 'wow we'll have to get her every year'. I think she's wonderful.

We stayed in the Ballsbridge Hotel but I had to leave early because I was flying over to London the next morning. There will have been a lot of time spent in Dublin this week by the time I finish up at Taste. My show is at 12.30pm and I'm very excited.

There's a great interest in food, as they say, so it's lovely to see that. I will travel home afterwards as I will need to be back in the afternoon because my head chef is off. I have only missed the first ever Taste Of Dublin, I've been there for the rest of them and I think they're a great team. I am honoured to be invited to it every year.



I will be doing a nice scallop dish, which is on my menu at the minute, and then I will be doing a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. You only have 30 minutes so you want to keep it very simple, but also food that makes people say, 'oh that's a good dish, I'm going to try that'.

I will head back to Cavan on Saturday afternoon and I'm looking forward to going back to my day job at my restaurant, MacNean House. I love what I do and I'm very lucky that I have a great variety in my life. From doing the television, doing the books and doing the demos. But my restaurant is where my heart is, I can't wait to get back to it.

The summer is always busy, but I try to fit in quality family time as much as I can with Amelda and twins Connor and Lucia (15 months).

Normally I try to take every second Sunday lunch off and then my head chef Glen takes Sunday night off, so it works well. However, I will have to cook this Sunday, even though it is Father's Day.

I have never cooked as much at home than in the last year, it is lovely to be there with Amelda and the twins and I think that's very important for you and your family. Connor and Lucia are flying, yapping away and walking around the place.

They eat everything we cook at home which is great, I think if you start young kids tasting flavours at home and keep them tasting, it's the best way.

Amelda is doing very well. She has made a full recovery since her heart condition when the twins were born.

She has never been better and is back at work and she's in great form, thank God.

We will make sure to fit in a holiday break but probably not in the summer, maybe in September if I get five days off.

I don't like being away from my restaurant; people think I'm never there, but I'm there 90pc of the time, which I think is important.