Jay Rayner hosts The Kitchen Cabinet at Derry’s Guildhall

Derry’s rising reputation as a foodie destination takes another giant leap forward this week when BBC Radio 4’s culinary panel show, The Kitchen Cabinet, comes from the Guildhall tomorrow.

The Derry show which is being recorded on Wednesday evening, kicks off the new series of the popular programme hosted by renowned restaurant critic Jay Rayner, and will be broadcast on Saturday, September 24th at 10.30am.
It may be an auspicious occasion for the city as it’s the first time the programme “packed full of tasty titbits” has been recorded on the banks of the Foyle but, also for Rayner who turns 50 on the same day.

Derry’s restaurateurs can relax for now as The Observer’s formidable food writer isn’t planning to do any reviews during his visit to host the show, with local foodies quickly snapping up the free ticket allocation to be part of the audience in the Guildhall’s stunning Whittaker Suite.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane Alderman Hilary McClintock, said she was delighted the show’s producers had chosen to record The Kitchen Cabinet in the city during NI Year of Food and Drink 2016 and is looking forward to welcoming the team to the Guildhall.

Mayor McClintock added: “This is an exciting opportunity to share some of our best food stories with an even wider broadcast audience and we look forward to The Kitchen Cabinet being aired on BBC Radio 4 on September 24th.”
Mary Blake, Council’s Tourism Manager, said: “This year has been phenomenal in terms of international interest in Derry as a destination and, to be hosting The Kitchen Cabinet with its huge listenership, is really going to help put us further on the culinary map. We are delighted to welcome Jay Rayner and hope he has an opportunity to explore some of our LegenDerry foodie destination. Derry is in the running for Foodie Destination Ireland this year so this is a very fitting location for The Kitchen Cabinet.”

Rayner will be joined by panellists including BBC Radio Ulster resident chef Paula McIntyre, a stalwart of Derry’s food festivals; Tim Anderson, 2011 TV Masterchef winner and Japanese food expert; Rachel McCormack, the Gaswegian cook and Catalonian food expert; and Zoe Laughlin, the show’s materials expert.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Rayner explained that while he’s looking forward to hearing some of Derry’s food success stories, he won’t have a chance to experience the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene on this occasion. Britain’s ‘culinary Moses’ will also be staging his one-man show the following night at Belfast’s MAC theatre, based on his book The Ten (Food) Commandments, bringing fresh rules for new foodies to live by!
While he may not be flavour of the month with every eatery – or every destination – he visits, Rayner has a “particularly good record in Northern Ireland” and loved Harry’s Shack in Portstewart which he reviewed for The Observer in January 2015.

Gearing up for that big birthday on September 14th, Rayner revealed that his food preferences are also maturing with age. “I turn 50 on the day we are recording The Kitchen Cabinet in Derry. I am quite a different man now than the man I was at 40 and restaurants are very emotive places so it changes all the time.”

Declaring himself to be “so over Michelin-starred tasting”, he added: “Anybody who does my job does it because they are greedy and does not have limited choice. I am as happy in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant as I am in a French bistro…I am all over everything.”

Derry was one of seven towns and cities around the UK selected for the latest series of The Kitchen Cabinet and the producers were also keen to shine the spotlight on new destinations with a passion for food. Rayner continued: “Every part of the country has a food story. It is not about grand restaurants… it is about how people eat and their own stories.”
The well known food savant, whose mother was the renowned journalist, author and agony aunt, Claire Rayner who died in 2010, also enjoys cooking up a storm in his own kitchen. The Ten (Food) Commandments features recipes for such culinary delights as Braised Shoulder of Lamb and, Chicken Wings with Fennel and Garlic. Among his self-styled commandments are those which exhort diners to ‘eat with thy hands’, worship the false god of leftovers and ‘Thou Shalt Not Cut Off The Fat’.

The Kitchen Cabinet is described as witty, fast-moving, and irreverent, but packed full of information that may well change the way you think about cooking and eating. Audience members have the opportunity to put their questions to the panel and enjoy plenty of good-humoured conversation about food and drink during the half-hour edited programme.

Darby Dorras, lead producer from Bafta Company of the Year Somethin’ Else, said: “We are really excited to be bringing the programme to Derry. We haven’t recorded The Kitchen Cabinet there before and the uptake for tickets has been fantastic so it looks like it’s going to be a great show.”

Sharon Machala, Taste of Ulster manager at Food NI, said that having previously recorded in Belfast, they were delighted The Kitchen Cabinet was visiting Derry during NI Year of Food and Drink 2016.
“It is the collaboration approach that really works in Derry and makes it stand out. The Council and the strategic partners have delivered specific festivals and, the award winning restaurants, chefs, drinks and cheese-makers have ensured that Derry has its own unique identity.”

The Kitchen Cabinet from Derry’s Guildhall will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday, September 24th at 10.30am and repeated on Tuesday, September 27th at 3pm. For details on how to apply for forthcoming shows, visit