David Gilmore, head chef at James Street South, Belfast

What’s your earliest food memory?
Roast dinner on a Sunday in my grandparents’ house. Traditional puddings, such as apple crumble or treacle sponge and custard, are also memories that are quite vivid in my mind from my childhood.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned on your career path?
Organisation is something I have taken from my early days as a trainee chef. Taking the risk out of service and putting it into prep time as much as possible has been a valuable lesson.

What is the best thing you ever cooked?

I always think it is for others to judge if something is good or not. When I was a trainee chef in my first job I made Bakewell tarts regularly – it was something that drew a lot of attention and was one of the first things that encouraged me to stick at being a chef.

What is your pet peeve in the kitchen?
Chefs being untidy and chaotic is a pet peeve of mine. It is so unnecessary. The day is so much more pleasant when everything is structured and in an orderly way. A messy bench is a messy mind.

Which kitchen tool could you not live without?

I couldn’t live without a vegetable peeler or a step pallet knife. It is always the cheapest items of equipment that cause you the most unrest when you don’t have them.

What is your current ingredient obsession?

Roasted lemon purée is always a constant, whether at home or in the restaurant. Currently, we are also using a lot of flavoured oils and green tomatoes.

Who/what are your biggest influences?

The seasons are always our biggest influences. Produce availability dictates our menu. The guys who I work with also influence me a lot, I like to encourage their involvement in menu ideas.

What was your most memorable meal?

Lameloise in Chagny France is where my most memorable meal was. I had the opportunity to spend a week working in the kitchens of this iconic 3 Michelin star restaurant, then finished up dining in the restaurant and it brought everything together from what I had experienced during the week’s work.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I am a sugar fiend so generally sweets and chocolate, but I don’t let myself feel any guilt. Being from the north west of England originally, anything with pastry or double carbohydrates is a winner. A Super Noodle sandwich has been known to hit the spot.

Dream dinner party guest?

I couldn’t choose just one dream dinner guest so have chosen a dream dinner table. I like sport, comedy and obviously cooking so would love to invite Brian Clough, Ian Botham, Billy Connolly and Albert Roux.

What are your favourite eateries at home and abroad?
I generally like simple food when I’m out. Living in Belfast, I have an excellent choice of restaurants but Zen is a favourite. If I’m visiting friends back in Chester, then Sticky Walnut and Hickories usually pop up at some point and restaurants that have stuck in my mind from being abroad are Quay in Sydney and Restaurant Andre in Singapore.

What/who inspires you?

Seeing friends achieving things in the industry always inspires me to push myself and progress, I suppose it is reflective of the competitive side of my nature. My young daughter would be the person that inspires me most, as she makes me want to achieve for her.

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What is your pet peeve
in the kitchen?
Chefs being untidy and chaotic is a pet peeve of mine. It is so unnecessary. The day is so much more pleasant when everything is structured and in an orderly way. A messy bench is a messy mind.

Which kitchen tool could you not live without?
I couldn’t live without a vegetable peeler or