Shape I’m In: Alan Shatter, TD

AS GUEST chef, TD Alan Shatter worked 12 hours straight on the day The Restaurant was filmed. But this was small fry for the former Justice Minister.

Shape I’m In: Alan Shatter, TD

“Compared to my normal working day and the engagements I had in past years, 12 hours to me is easy,” he says.

“My day would start between 5am and 5.30am and regularly finish between 10pm and 11pm at night. There was the odd mad day when we went on to one o’clock in the morning.”

Just as well he needs five hours’ sleep a night. “And when I have it, I am raring to go.”

Though we are used to seeing a stern Alan Shatter on our screens, he was all smiles in the kitchen and seemed at home with the staff, who gave encouraging back slaps and referred to him as ‘Al’ throughout the programme.

Did this bother him? Not in the least.

“Some of my good friends call me Al. People call me Alan. I’m comfortable with either. One thing I hate being called is Mr Shatter because it adds three decades to your actual age.”

He enjoyed the experience from start to clean up. “We had great fun. There was a lot of laughing and joking. I think they put together a great programme.”

A highlight was meeting the mystery celebrity critic. “It was a particular pleasure to meet Rachel Allen. Over the years, I have had copies of most of Allen cookbooks — be it Darina or Rachel.”

Awarded a tasty four stars , he has no intention of giving up the day job.

“I think most of my cheffing now will be confined to the privacy of my home. I’ve always done some cooking at home but it seemed constrained by other commitments.

"I suppose doing that programme has renewed to some extent my interest. But it’s always been something that I’m comfortable with.”

So what about his short or long-term political career plans?

“I thoroughly enjoyed the job [as Minister for Justice and Defence]. One has to come to terms with the fact that I am not as busy as I was previously but I’ve a number of things I’m engaged with at the moment, which are keeping my reasonably busy.

“I am still a member of the Dáil, still engaged in constituency work... I’m currently reflecting on my own circumstance and reflecting on whether I will put my name forward as a candidate for the next general election. ”

Born on Valentine’s Day in 1951, he is married to Carol Ann. The couple live in Ballinteer, Co Dublin and have two adult children.

* The Restaurant, TV3, Wednesdays at 9pm. The programme is sponsored by Aldi.

What shape are you in?

Physically sound. Politically reflective.

Do you have any health concerns?

I’m concerned that life is a terminal experience! I’m enjoying good health and am reasonably fit. I have been asthmatic for many years but it gives rise to no difficulties provided I daily use my inhalers.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Never swallowing food without chewing and all things in moderation. I love all types of vegetables.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Pleading the 5th on this one!

What would keep you awake at night?

An over-active brain and contemplating the meaning of life.

How do you relax?

Gardening, cooking, reading, writing, walking, swimming, playing table tennis and other stuff.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I would have to have a large table to accommodate all of the following guests: Groucho Marx, Tony Hancock, Maureen Potter, Dermot Morgan, John Cleese, Robin Williams, Woody Allen, Mel Brooke’s, Joan Rivers, Billy Crystal, Larry David, Tina Fey, Brendan O’Carroll, Jon Stewart and my daughter Kelly Shatter who is an actor.

What’s your favourite smell?

Ginger cake baking in the oven.

What would you change about your appearance?

Another six inches in height. I’m 5ft 7ins.

When did you last cry?

Last autumn upon learning of the death of a brave and gentle friend.

What trait do you least like in others?

People who are racist or those who engage in anti-Semitic bullying or who have difficulties presenting things truthfully or who lack a sense of humour.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

My inability to remember good jokes or to locate my reading glasses.

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