Father and daughter ‘exchange’ roles at famous Derry restaurant
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The long-standing restaurateur recently celebrated his retirement with a last supper at The Exchange.
The eatery has been left in the capable hands of Mark’s daughter Shauna and son-in-law Mark, who have moved from London where they had been cheffing at Marcus Wareing’s Michelin-starred restaurant in the five-star Berkeley Hotel.
Shauna joked: “We had a wee party for my father to make it official and that has sort of forced him a bit! Otherwise he would still be here and I'd be saying to him on a Monday morning, 'What are you doing here?'
“What is different with The Exchange and my father’s other businesses was that he started this from scratch. This was an empty shell. He knows where every single switch and key is, all of that,” said Shauna, who cut her culinary teeth working there as a 16-year-old.
Since then she has enjoyed a stellar career in England, cooking for some of the biggest names in the business.
“I started in Marcus Wareing's restaurant in the Berkeley Hotel. I went there as a student for a year whenever he was still with Gordon Ramsey. I did a year there, finished my degree, then moved back to London and continued working with him at which point he had taken over ownership of the restaurant from Ramsey.
"Mark [Froydenlund] was there at the time and that's where I met him. Both of us were then commis chefs and worked our way up to become Head Chef eventually and then Chef Patron [a chef owner or business partner].”
Shauna and Mark recently has to choose between extending the contract at The Berkeley or moving to Derry to enjoy a better quality of life.
"We decided we wanted to grow our family and have a better lifestyle. It was very much a 90 hour week in London.”
The couple have been impressed by Derry’s food scene since moving here a year ago.
“We really want to support new concepts like Pyke and Pommes, like Umi, like Artis. They are really pushing it and thinking outside of the box.”
Shauna is grateful for the loyal regulars who never miss a weekend at The Exchange.
“There have been people who have been coming here every single Thursday of Saturday which is incredible. We want to support that and let it continue doing what it is doing as a family restaurant.”
The Exchange will continue doing what it does best under the new management, but Shauna has also hinted at a potential new culinary offering.
“We would like to do something small and intimate on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday night, like a chef's table, a counter with just 12 guests and a set menu served and cooked by us. That could be quite a fun concept."