Weekend Q&A: Carolyn Stewart's passion for Mela, music and food

Carolyn Stewart presents U105 Lunch and is a noted DJ. She hosts the Mela, Belfast’s nine-day cultural diversity festival, which opens on Saturday with a free carnival in Writers’ Square from 12.30pm, followed by a Mela Global Village event in the City Hall grounds

Carolyn Stewart hosts Belfast Mela, which opens today with a carnival
Carolyn Stewart hosts Belfast Mela, which opens today with a carnival

How do you unwind at the weekend?

My garden is my haven and I absolutely love getting my hands into the soil. I’m really lucky to have a great space at home in Bangor where I grow vegetables, herbs and some amazing flowers and shrubs. I also love to cook and founded Totally Hot NI which has just won a Great Taste Award for our Mini Chicken Jamaican patties. My ideal downtime is an afternoon gardening, followed by making, say, bang bang chicken, then meringue with chocolate and my raspberry chilli sauce in the kitchen and entertaining friends that evening.

What do you remember most about weekends growing up?

Watching Swap Shop and kids’ TV and playing board games. We grew up in north Belfast, and there was my dad John, me and my older sister Marie and we were so close. My dad was a joiner and he made me a pool table, and we literally played pool until we collapsed. I also had a chopper bike and went everywhere on it. There wasn’t much to do growing up in the area at that time, but it was a really happy childhood.

Have you a must-listen weekend radio programme or podcast?

I love Paul Gambaccini’s Top 40s – he picks two years and plays back the music from that time. It brings back so many memories, like asking dad for a Blondie badge, a poster of The Jam and a copy of Smash Hits with all the lyrics in.

Is there a must-watch TV programme or Netflix?

I don’t have time to watch a huge amount, but Black history is a passion of mine, so I enjoy documentaries like The Last Dance story of Michael Jordan and Hip-Hop Evolution, both Netflix.

Is Sunday still special?

Very, very special. The Iast year has been more difficult time-wise, since I started at St George’s Market with My Patty Shack selling Caribbean patties, but when I can, I have family and friends round for a meal.

Do you have a favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

I don’t do takeaways. My favourite restaurant is Tuk Tuk in Bangor, a great Thai spot where I have their green curry with rice.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I’ve never had the Monday blues as I really love my job and my U105 Lunch listeners, and the rest of the day I devise recipes for my business. So I get to enjoy my passions for music and for food.

Full details of the Mela at belfastmela.org.uk