Talented chef Jim Mulholland has realised his lifelong dream of opening his own fine dining restaurant, writes Sam Butler.
Jim (50) recently left his role as head chef at the prestigious Novelli restaurant in Belfast’s high-end AC Hotel in Belfast to develop 14 The Georgian House in Comber, his own premium eatery. The new restaurant, a significant development for the market town and wider community in the Ards, opened its sturdy front door on Tuesday.
“Virtually every chef aspires to run their own restaurant,” Jim Mulholland explains. “And it’s long been my aspiration. What tipped the scales for me was when the superb Georgian building near the square in Comber became available and especially the variety and quality of local food and drink readily available in this area.
“The quality of food in this area and in Northern Ireland in general, especially meat, cured meats, fish and seafood, vegetables, fruit, cheese and other dairy products, is just sensational. What I am doing is to harness this local treasure trove of food and drink in the creation of delicious and affordable dishes that everyone can enjoy,” he adds.
About chef Jim Mulholland
Lisburn native Jim brings to the stylish new restaurant a wealth of experience here and five years in Guernsey, where he developed a passion for French cuisine. Chef posts held here included stints at the old White Gables in Hillsborough, with Paul Rankin at the famed Roscoff in Belfast and as head chef at the Ballyrobin Hotel, near Belfast International Airport.
He met French celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli at the Ballyrobin during a visit to Northern Ireland for Balmoral Show and other events. Novelli was also then planning his first gourmet restaurant in Belfast, at the Marriott Hotel, then taking shape overlooking the port.
Novelli enjoyed his meals at the Ballyrobin, where Jim held the head chef post for nine years, and offered him the top role in the kitchen at the new restaurant.
“Setting up the kitchen in the new restaurant and creating menus with Jean Christophe was a marvellous experience. He’s so passionate about food and a real perfectionist; an inspirational chef and leader,” adds Jim. “I learned a lot and enjoyed working there and with Jean Christophe. Leaving the restaurant was a very difficult decision; a real jump into the unknown. But I think the time was right to set up on my own, and Jean Christophe was very supportive.”
In addition to a stunning dinner menu, 14 The Georgian House is open from 9am (Tuesday to Sunday) for breakfast, coffee and lunch. Jim is head chef as well as owner and managing director. He’s joined by three other experienced staff in the kitchen and a front of house team.
Married to Joanne and with a 19-year old son, Jim also plans gourmet tasting evenings in an upstairs dining/meeting/events room. In the pipeline are celebrity tastings with leading chefs from Britain such as Nathan Snodden, originally from Belfast and now one of London’s most respected chefs.
14 The Georgian House, which dates back to 1722, seats 42, also includes courtyard for outdoor dining and drinks and the private dining room for up to 30 people. The house has its own walled garden for herbs and ingredients for Jim’s menus.