This much I know: Donal Skehan

I was a pretty laid back child. The ambition only came later, when I left school and realised there was a big bad world out there.

Nigel Slater is my food hero, he’s one of the top people I’d like to cook for.

I get ideas for recipes from many areas, but especially from travelling. We were in Vietnam and Thailand recently and I have a whole load of dishes which I’m trying to recreate for the next book.

Cooking was always a hobby for me. My parents have a food business, Fresh Cut Foods, and they were a real inspiration to me. They supported my interest in baking and cooking, but when I left school I went to Dublin Business School to do media studies.

It was overwhelming, I was too young for the course and would have been far better taking a year off. After six months I got the chance to join a boy band called ‘Streetwize’ and flew myself over to London for the audition. It was as if I was going off to join the circus, in my parents’ minds.

The years that followed were crazy, never knowing what would happen next. After Streetwize, I was in ‘Industry’, which was a lot more successful. I even did the Eurovision thing, but was pipped at the post by a certain turkey and didn’t get to the final.

I’ve learned that you have to roll with the punches and still get up the next day.

When my music career ended, it was a huge blow. But at least we had made the decision to call it a day with ‘ Industry’ ourselves. We’d had two number ones, performed at the Point and played with the Pussycat Dolls. But after a night like that, when you wake up alone the next day you realise life’s not really about those highs, it’s about the day to day reality of living.

I believe that you have to be the driving force in your own life and I believe in the power of positivity.

Being on TV means you’re open to getting slated, but, if it happens, you just learn to take it. Life goes on. I’m very strong when it comes to dealing with negativity and conflict.

I’ve always loved art and one of my huge passions is food photography. In 2007 I started a food blog because I wanted to share my passion. That’s what opened doors for me.

I’ve been extremely lucky, with the books and TV shows — and being a judge on Junior MasterChef was wonderful. People may criticise reality shows but they can be a really positive learning experience for the contestants.

From the very start, my main aim was to create recipes that people will actually cook. I love it when someone asks me to sign one of my books for them and their copy is covered in splatters.

I am a real planner and list maker. I have always made lists of goals and aims for each year. One of my main aims next year is to surround myself with motivated and creative people.

I am continuously learning about what I do. I think a love of learning and being open to change are admirable qualities.

I’m a bad time keeper. I used to be better but the busier my schedule becomes, the worse I get.

When it comes to writing the books, I block off entire days to do nothing else. I have to switch off Twitter and all other distractions.

I love where we live in Howth in Dublin. I spend a lot of time going for runs along the cliffs and walking our new dog Max.

* Donal Skehan’s Kitchen Hero’s Christmas Special is on RTÉ One at 8.30pm on Wednesday and his book Kitchen Hero is available now.


Lifestyle

AS Joaquin Phoenix rose to the podium to collect his Academy Award for Best Actor, ears were peeled as the actor made his speech about inequality and our disconnect with the natural world.Paul McLauchlan: Leading men lead the way on Oscars red carpet

The new season blood oranges have arrived, they’ve been trickling into the shops ever since Christmas — such joy. I long for their delightful fresh taste after the rich food of the festive season.Darina Allen: Blood Oranges have a delightfully fresh taste after the rich food of winter

She’s the Cork singer dubbed the next Kate Bush, shortlisted by Universal, the world’s biggest record label, as their artist to watch in 2020. This will be the year of Lyra, writes Ed PowerLyra: Meet the new Kate Bush - and she's from Cork

For relationships to endure, we need to be loving not just on Valentine’s Day but all year round, a Buddhist teacher tells Marjorie BrennanOpen hearts: The Buddhist approach to love and loving

More From The Irish Examiner