Northern Ireland chef Danny Millar has told of his delight after his restaurant, Stock, was added to the Michelin Guide this week..
nd for chef Millar, 49, who has been cooking since he was 16 years old in Michelin-starred eateries in London and Germany, there’s no place he’d rather be than cooking back home in Belfast.
“It’s good for the whole team, you know, I think it’s always good, especially in Northern Ireland where you always feel just a wee bit like we’re never in the loop,” he said.
“I came back to Belfast because, well, I think I’m a bit of a homeboy at heart,” he told the Belfast Telegraph. “You know, I love Belfast. I think it’s just when I left it was back in the 1980s, it was a bit of a culinary waste field. I grew up on the New Lodge so there were no real opportunities.”
But despite his culinary expeditions abroad, chef Millar is a simple man, who likes simple food – and that may just be what got his restaurant recognised in the Michelin guide.
“I came home, and the location came up a couple of years ago, or two years ago”, he said. “I just loved the venue, you know, it’s right above St George’s market. I go down and pick my fish up on a Friday and I cook whatever I see.”
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph as he picks runner beans from his garden to use at Stock, he said: “I just like food to be what it is. If it’s a bit of fish, it’s going to be a bit of fish. If it’s steak, it’s going to be a steak.”
“You cook because you see something and it looks good, because of the feeling that you get from it – that love, it’s kind of like a hug,” he said.
The market fish, which comes with roasted fish bone sauce, market vegetables and “proper” chips, is on the menu at the moment.
He said: “I do a good chip. I source a good potato to make a good chip.”
“Plus,” he added, “I love a good mash, the simple things in life – champ, crubeens, a nice bit of bacon.”
On local produce, he said that “it’s not all being shipped away to Paris and Madrid, you know. If we can tap into the fact that we have such great produce like Lough Neagh eel, Dexter beef, Glenarm lamb, Glenarm salmon, you know, even within the six counties, it’s phenomenal.”
“What I do is the easy part,” he said. “I stick it in the pan, give it a bit of love, toss a bit of salt and butter over it – well a bit more than that… but the real heroes, and I mean this sincerely, are the producers of food.”
And even though it is his eatery that has been added to the Michelin guide, he said: “There’s great restaurants in Belfast. We’re very lucky with the size of the population, the quality of independent restaurants is fantastic and it’s to be proud of – and I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit.”
Stock is open from Thursday to Sunday every week, and you’ll find chef Millar, of course, in the kitchen.
“I don’t want to be anywhere else. I want to be cooking,” he said.