O’Dowd goes from Executive minister to ‘executive chef’

John O'Dowd and Liam McEvoy. INLM50-003
John O'Dowd and Liam McEvoy. INLM50-003

EDUCATION Minister John O’Dowd withstood the heat of the kitchen after returning to his roots as a chef to mark the 40th anniversary of the Stables in Lurgan.

Mr O’Dowd took a night off from the Executive to act as executive chef in the bar/restaurant on Saturday night, a place where he had worked for several years before becoming an MLA.

After nine years away he proved he could still handle the heat of the kitchen.

Head chef at the Stables Liam McEvoy said: “John trained me here when I was 16. I asked him would he come back for the 40th anniversary and we were delighted to have him back for Saturday evening’s service.

“I don’t think he’ll be coming back in a hurry. It was a hard night’s graft. He has it too cosy up there at Stormont!”

Liam added: “He came in and ran the pass while myself and Jim Harte were cooking. I suppose you could say he was executive head chef for the night.”

On the menu were a number of old favourites given a modern twist including Angel Delight Surprise as well as some of Liam’s competition dishes.

John said: “Liam contacted me and asked me would I be interested in coming back for the night. I’m out of it nine years but felt I owed it to Sean and Anne McGeown who were the owners when I worked there. They treated me very well and I wanted to return the favour.

“I’d been head chef at the Stables for four or five years right up until I became an MLA.

“It was just as I remembered it. Very hard work. Not like you see on TV with chefs cooking for five or six people. We were cooking for over 100 people.

“It was nice to go out afterwards and hear from the customers. There were no complaints. Everyone seemed to have had a good night. That’s what I liked most about the job. The satisfaction in knowing that you’d helped give people a good night out.”

When asked if he’d consider lending a hand in the kitchens at Stormont the Education Minister said: “There’s enough heat in chambers at Stormont without having to go into the kitchen looking more.”