Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
2:46 PM 18th June 2020

'Home Cooking Recipes With David Simpson'

David Simpson is a chef at Dobbins Inn, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. During lockdown with the hotel closed because of Covid-19 he decided to make some videos showing people how to cook.

What started as a small gesture to encourage people to bake and share their recipes during lockdown on Facebook has now grown into a group of over 30k members from all around the world.

David Simpson
David Simpson
Here is an interview with David:

How did you get into cookery and did you always want to be a chef?
I grew up in a large family, so we all had our own jobs around the house and being in the kitchen was where I wanted to be. In 1983 I was attending Downshire School, I was 11 years old. The school could see I had a clear interest in cooking and supported me, they were very good. It was the same during my training I always received great support.

What has been your career path to date?
I started at the Carrickfergus Golf Club, then The North Gate and along the sea front at The Coast Road Hotel. I worked in a lot of key buildings in Belfast. I started in the Waterfront when it first opened. I really enjoyed the experience. I took great pleasure watching Belfast grow. I worked at The Holiday Inn for four years, this was a great experience as it had 250 rooms.

I have been in the trade 33 years but for the last 15 years I have been Head Chef. I'm currently working in Dobbins Inn Carrickfergus. The Dobbin Inn is in the perfect location for all visitors. It was built in the 13th century and is a well-loved establishment. The hotel has 15 rooms and also conferencing facilities.

You are currently the chef at the Dobbins Inn in Carrickfergus, how did it feel getting the news you would have to close due to the Covid-19 crisis?
My first thought was, will we get back. It’s a lot to adapt to having your whole routine change, unsure when and how we open safely again. It's been an experience. Everyone in the industry will be working endlessly to ensure we create a safe environment for when we reopen.

Turning a negative into a positive you decided to set up a Facebook group sharing recipes, how did this idea come about?
I had a few food Facebook groups already so I wanted to make one that anyone could join and learn. Somewhere people could feel confident enough to ask questions and show their recipes. It was hard to get some ingredients and the price was going up, I wanted to show people that it was possible to cook and bake with only a few ingredients.

You have gained a massive following with over 30k followers on the group, why do you think it has been so successful?
The feedback from members show the group is like a safe place, they can bake, post photos and a lot of them have made new friends. The videos are what people enjoy, easy to follow. Members feel we all have been on the same journey. It’s been an amazing experience for me. We have members from the UK that have moved to Australia, Canada and Turkey and they say the recipes bring back memories of home.

What would you describe as the perfect lockdown meal that everyone can make at home?
Mine would be fresh pasta with fresh vegetables and tuna with mayo or pesto sauce. This is a healthy cost-effective meal and can also be used the next day for lunch. It's all about the balance for me, I enjoy eating healthy and like to go for lean proteins and a variety of fish. I cook steak all day but for me it's a treat.

With the news that hotels and restaurants can open on 3rd July, are you looking forward to welcoming back guests to your restaurant?
Yes, I can't wait. Its great news. I enjoy having a routine. Home Cooking will stay the same and I will keep adding recipes and videos. The members are wonderful and its working well.

What are your plans for ‘Home Cooking Recipes with David Simpson’ - are you going to expand it beyond lockdown?
I really plan to keep it the same. I have plans to do more work on our charity Women's Aid. At present we have a donate button but when more restrictions ease, we want to do sponsor walks and breakfast mornings.