Saturday Q&A: Co Cavan celebrity chef Neven Maguire on mixing family with a busy weekend work schedule

Chef Neven Maguire owns MacNean House and Restaurant in Co Cavan. A regular on TV and radio, his cookbooks include The Complete Baby & Toddler Cookbook and Meals for Life.

 Co Cavan celebrity chef Neven Maguire
Jane Hardy

:: How do you unwind at the weekend?

Like most chefs, my weekend is the busiest time. It's a rare Friday or Saturday night that I am home by midnight. But I love the buzz of the restaurant and meeting customers. Fortunately I only live about five minutes away, so I usually pop down to the family for a while before service.

:: What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

We grew up in the restaurant, so this is the life I know. But like anyone else I had plenty of time to play football and enjoy the great outdoors that we have in this part of Cavan.

:: Friday night or Saturday night?

See above. My weekend is really Monday. If the children are at school, and I often bring them, then Amelda and I might take a drive and have lunch. I catch up on things that are recorded on the TV and then there is Monday's Premiership soccer and hopefully Manchester United.

:: Do you have a must-listen weekend radio show?

If I am in the car, or at home, Marian Finucane was usually on in the background and that has continued with Brendan O'Connor. Marian was very good to me and I always enjoyed being on the programme. There was enormous feedback afterwards and I often hear her voice in my head. She is hugely missed. In following her Brendan is doing an impossible job very well and he knows his food.

If Friday morning counts as the beginning of the weekend then Marty in the Morning on RTE Lyric FM is essential listening, for obvious reasons! [Maguire is a regular on the popular radio show]

:: Must-watch TV weekend show or box set?

I enjoy The Chef's Table on Netflix, of course, but have been binge-watching Only Fools and Horses on Dave. It still does it for me.

:: Favourite eatery – or is it a takeaway?

I am on the road a lot, or was until 2020, with work for RTE and Simply Better and doing demos around the country. So I can be forgiven the occasional fast food burger, I think! I enjoy a lot of places where you get good honest food.

Eithne's in Mullaghmore comes to mind for fantastic fish, Saba for unbeatable Thai takeaway, PI for the best pizzas you will get anywhere. They are my go to when working late at Dunnes in St Great Georges Street.

For a celebration night with fantastic food I would think of Ox, The Greenhouse, Chapter One or Patrick Guilbaud, and to stay overnight after a wonderful meal then it is Mount Juliet.

:: Is Sunday still special?

Yes. It is the only day the family are all together almost always. We do the traditional things. I am very family-centred and one of the few good things in 2020 is that I had time to spend at home and intend to keep it that way in the future. That time is irreplaceable and I don't want to look back in years to come with regrets about the decisions I made when the twins were growing up.

:: How do you feel on Sunday evening about Monday morning?

Again, as a chef, this is probably more how do I feel on a Tuesday evening! I feel great. I love the restaurant and I have a fantastic team at MacNean and more than anything I want to put 2020 behind us and get back to a normal working life. I am one of those fortunate people who is doing the job I love and if I learned anything this year it is to appreciate that good fortune.

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