Food Theatre

Cookery demonstrations

The River to Lough Festival is a food festival celebrating Lough Neagh Pollan.

The cookery demonstrations will take place throughout the day.  The first demo will kick off at The Elk Complex, and then later in the afternoon at O’Neill Arm’s Hotel (see Event Timetable).   Our chefs will centre their recipes around Lough Neagh Pollan, other fish from the lough and a range of other regional food products, many of which will be available for sale in the event Food Market.


Paula McIntyre

Having trained in Culinary Arts at the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, USA, Paula McIntyre returned to the UK in 1993 to open her own

restaurant in Manchester and then to Northern Ireland in 1998. Paula worked as Head Chef in several establishments including Ghan House in Carlingford and Fontana in Holywood.

It was Paula’s stint as guest chef on “Ready, Steady, Cook” beating Paul Rankin in her second appearance in 2000, that catapulted her into the limelight. Since then she has become a household name and is as much loved for her wit and banter as she is for her tasty recipes using local produce.

She had a regular cooking column in Sunday Life newspaper for 2 years. Paula contributes to various papers in Northern Ireland including the Irish News, Newsletter and Belfast Telegraph. She writes a weekly column in Farming Life. She regularly blogs  for the Borough Market, in London, website and does demonstrations at the market.

She has been a judge on Radio 4’s Food and Farming Awards for 5 years, most recently in the 2019 BBC Cook of the Year category and contributes to the Food Programme.  She is a regular panelist on the “Kitchen Cabinet” – a Radio 4 programme hosted by Jay Rayner.

She works closely with Food NI to promote local produce both here and abroad. She has showcased food from NI twice in the House of Commons and twice in the European Parliament. In February 2018 she showcased food from Northern Ireland in the British Ambassador’s residence in Brussels as part of a Taste Celtic trade initiative.

In 2015 she won the Farming Life/Danske Bank Farming Champion Award and is the 2017 Restaurant Association of Ireland Food Hero for Ulster. She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2018 for contribution to food, drink and hospitality in Northern Ireland.

Paula’s first book “ A Kitchen Year” was published in 2008 by Gill and Macmillan. Her latest book “Down to Earth” was published in 2015.

Paula will be kicking off the cookery demos with the first demo at The Elk Complex at 11.30am.  Paula will be cooking again at 2pm at O’Neill Arms Hotel.

Twitter: @paula_mcintyre


Sean McKeever

Sean has a strong connection to Lough Neagh fishing and this reflects on his passion for cooking with the local food hero products, eels and pollan!

Starting his career is the Tullyglass, Sean has worked throughout the North before coming to The Elk Bistro in Toomebridge. Sean’s favourite style of cooking is Asian as you’ll see in his cookery demonstration at The Elk Bistro on Saturday 28th September at 12:30pm alongside Paula McIntyre.

Sean’s uses his passion for food and love of fine ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes that you can try at The Elk Bistro.


Barry Dallat

Winner of ‘Caterer of the Year 2019’ in the Northern Ireland Wedding Awards, Barry and his team are perfectionists when it comes to creating any meal of your dreams. Barry Loves all things food, he loves the buzz, the passion and the people of this trade.

Barry is Managing Director of Arbutus Hospitality which took over the running of the O’Neill Arms Country House Hotel in Feb 2017. With Barry’s Passion and teaching skills, he has turned the Kitchen around and is currently working with local suppliers including Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operate, to incorporate local produce onto the current menu.


Martin McCann

Martin has 25 years+ experience in the hospitality industry,  and has gained experience working as a chef in hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland, France and Australia.

Martin was the proprietor of Truffles Restaurant and Guesthouse in his home town of Randalstown for 9 years. Now he currently is the proprietor of Truffles Tea Room & Bakery,  as well as working with Barry in The O’Neill Arms Country House Hotel.

Martin brings a wealth of experience to the Hotel Team.  His skill in fine dining and banqueting has been an invaluable resource to the rest of the team. Martin’s passion for local produce and his innovative cooking style, ensures his recipes have a ‘twist’ that will have customers coming back for more. No stranger to the River to Lough Festival, Martin participated in the previous event in 2016, where he featured his Lough Neagh Eel dish as part of the Eel Eat initiative and during the cookery demos at Antrim Castle Gardens.

Barry Dallat & Martin McCann will face off in the Ready Steady Cook event at 3pm in O’Neill Arm’s Hotel…. not to be missed!