TV chefs hail Derry as “cracking” city

Chefs Nick Nairn, left, and Paul Rankin. (1008PG60)
Chefs Nick Nairn, left, and Paul Rankin. (1008PG60)

They’re more at home in the kitchen but TV chefs Paul Rankin and Nick Nairn enjoyed a history lesson on Derry’s Walls on Thursday.

The two Michelin star chefs were in town filming for their latest television series ‘Paul and Nick’s Big Food Trip’.

“Derry’s a cracking city and it’s changed so much since the last time I was here,” said Paul.

“The city centre is looking amazing, the walk along the quay is outstanding and the Peace Bridge is out of this world,” commented the former Michelin star awarded chef.

The programme, which is due to be screened on UTV and STV next year sees both Paul and Nick travel around the northern coast of Ireland and Scotland where they sample some of the finest local culinary delights and soak up the history.

“We are actually in Derry to find out a bit about the relationship between this part of Ireland and the Ulster Scots,” said Nick.

“We’ve found out all about the Siege of Derry, the people who settled here and the emigration of some of the Ulster Scots from the Port of Derry to countries all over the world,” he added.

Paul was reared in Belfast and has visited Derry many times but it was Nick’s first time visiting the city.

Nick, who was born in Port of Menteith in Stirlingshire, Scotland said that he was pleasantly surprised by what the city had to offer and said that he would like to come back again.

“The first thing that struck me when we came here to film today was the beautiful Guildhall building - it’s so majestic.

“The people are very welcoming and if I ever get the chance I will certainly be back.”

Paul, who was the first chef from Northern Ireland to be awarded a Michelin star for his Roscoff restaurant in 1999, said that he associates Derry with “good craic” and said that he plans on returning to the city for the City of Culture year in 2013.

“I am from Belfast and when we think of Derry we think of it as a place you come to let your hair down. Derry’s great craic and I’ll definitely be coming here next year to let my hair down,” he said.

When told that Derry has seen a rise in the number of people growing their own vegetables and foraging for wild food both Paul and Nick said that they were delighted to hear it.

“Myself and Paul have been foraging for food and exploiting local produce for the best part of 20 year.

“I think it’s amazing that local people in Derry are doing the same now.

“It’s also fantastic to see so many young children getting involved with the growing and harvesting of vegetables,” he said.

After finishing filming on the Walls, Paul and Nick drove to Learmount Forest Park in Park where they foraged for wild raspberries with local gardening expert and horticulture lecturer Gareth Austin.

‘Paul and Nick’s Big Food Trip’ is an eight part series and will be broadcast on UTV and STV in March next year.