Tales From The Sugar Club – PART 1 The Disabled Toilet

Posted on: 30 August 2012 4 comments

So next week, I leave The Sugar Club to set up shop with Conor & Marc Bereen on South William Street. Back in March 1999, myself and Nicky Toppin took on an auld disused cinema and by that August, we were trading. He looked after the legals and the landlord while I got on with everything else. We are both extremely proud of what we achieved together. On an altogether, highly uninspiring part of town that was known as the “Leeson Street Strip” , we built and operated an Arts centre that was funded 100% by a very successful night trade. When punters had enough money to enjoy a quality late night weekend offering, we rocked it out for them and it meant that we could run great shows in the evening at a relatively low cost for the promoters and artists.  I always felt that this was a good business model for theatres and constantly wondered why more of them didn’t do the same. It was only when I started snooping around looking for grants that I realized why the theatres weren’t motivated to run club nights in their own spaces. They have been and will always continue to be, overly funded by The Arts Council. And the way they distribute their funds is shockingly unfair.  Non theatrical venues and festivals deserve a lot more state funding and the main theatres need to get up off their holes and find more corporate sponsorship and more revenue streams.  Been waiting a while to say that. Now seems like a good a time as any to express it.

But anyhoop, a lot of people have been asking me will I miss working in the club and the quick answer is, no.  The reason for that is, I’ll be way too bloody busy to even remember where I’ve just spent the last decade or so. We’re trying to open up a Diner in a place that used to be a boozer, there’s a fucking shitload of work to get done and I’m chomping at the bit to get cracking and start trading.  In terms of what we’ll be doing foodwise, it will be our own take on the Diner, but with lots of booze. Especially cocktails and a geansai load of my infusions like the Superspiced range. Stay tuned for an offensive amount of updates and media whoring!

When I think about my time on Leeson St,  the schlebs that partied in the club and all the famous folk that have played there, don’t really come into my thoughts. My brain always manages to find the absurd, disgusting, bizarre and random moments. And there are so many, I could actually fill two daycent posts on them. So to get the ball rolling…

- When we first opened the club, the very thought of trying to do a MEGA-LAUNCH party just gave me the fear. So we opted just to open and see what would happen. On the first night we traded, we just had some friends round and put on a sweet jazz band on, fronted by the late Herbie Dade. He was his usual charming self. Gravelly voiced but smoothly dressed. He took a break after the first set and asked me where he could get changed. I directed him to the disabled toilet. Fifteen minutes later he emerged from the jacks wearing a sparkling purple gown with golden earrings and a blonde wig. I was somewhat shocked but felt the need to compliment the lovely lady on her attire.

“Looking good there Blondie!”, says I.

“You too sweetheart. My name’s Samantha and I wanna suck your cock down in the handicapped bathroom, ” says he.

“Sorry Samantha but I don’t do blondes with dicks,” says I.

Despite this somewhat unusual introduction to each other, Herbie and I became good friends. When he got ill, we staged a fundraiser for him to do what we could. He was a gas character and brought a great slice of America here with him. Deadly bloke.


- On a dull Tuesday evening, I hooked up Republic of Loose with a somewhat lame but highly paid corporate gig. They were at the height of their fame and their legendary partying. I was kept busy walking round the venue babysitting the client and micromanaging all their fiddly requests.  The MD of the company remarked that there was a strong smell of “hashish” coming from the disabled toilet. I went down to investigate. Sure enough the band were there, all 8 of them actually. A massive cloud of smoke came billowing out as soon as I opened the door. I looked in and saw at least one pipe going round. The bass player Saul, clocks me. He does his best Obi Wan Kenobi and slowly moves the fingers of his right hand  in front of my face and says,

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. ” Fucking genius.


- Twas a mad, typically hectic Christmas season Friday night. We were breaking a new duty manager in. He was a cool Scottish fella called Martin. The Camembert Quartet were due to be on stage. I was up to me hoop so I delegated the task of getting the band on stage, to Martin. This was usually something I did as it always required a lot of  work and diplomacy. One band member could be at the bar, while another would always be out the back chatting up a female. Either way, you’d have to break up a conversation somewhere and drag them down into the disabled toilet to get changed and hit the stage.


But on this one night, two of the lads in the band wanted to play a gag on me. Just at stage time when the knock came on the door for the lads to get a move on, one of them knelt down and  rubbed a load of creamy soap all over his own face whilst the other lad unzipped his fly and took his mickey out.  Martin walks in and sees one guy on his knees with a white goo all over his face and the other guy with his cock in his hand. He screams like a red headed stepchild, bolts up to the office looking totally shell shocked.  It’s a testimony to the band’s sheer professionalism that they still managed to put on a wicked gig. Because every time they saw me and my esteemed colleague Martin, we’d all laugh our hoops off.


Like I said, I’ve got loads of these tales but there’s  work to do. More Leeson Street filth and depravity next week before I bid this part of town, adieu.

Recipes from last week’s BBQ COOK OUT!

Posted on: 17 August 2012 No comments

A thousand thank yous to everybody who came along to the For Food’s Sake Barbecue Cook Out in Toner’s last week! We took a bit of a gamble in many ways. The weather could have been brutal. The punters mightn’t have grasped the concept of having to bring and cook their own food. The barbecues could have all broken down. And because it was so bloody important to the whole thing that I should say it again in capital bold letters, THE WEATHER COULD HAVE BEEN BRUTAL.

But the gamble paid off!!! The weather was amazing! The four different barbecues we begged and borrowed from mates all worked a charm. The peeps who showed up brought OUTSTANDING bits of food with them and really enjoyed manning the grills and cooking them all up.  But for me, what I was most impressed with, was how much people brought down with them to share with strangers. That was really cool and humbling, plus it was a nice way to get to know somebody. Breaking the ice by offering a rib or a burger. A united love of barbecuing with booze made conversations flow with great ease, even with those who had previously never met. If there was one thing that we wanted to happen last Saturday, that was it. A comfortable interaction brought on by people chatting about what they were grilling. That’s all that we ever try to create with For Food’s Sake events. Dialogues about grub, whether that’s at a gig in The Science Gallery or a food fest in Kerry. It’s that simple.

Massive respect to our friends who donated barbies and to the crew at Toner’s for being so accommodating. Big thanks to Mic’s Chilli and Tully B’s for both handing out so many freebies. And hats off to all the deadly folk who came down! Those of you who didn’t attend, I want to see doctor’s notes or early house receipts.

So I thought it would be cool to hand pick a few of the dishes that were made last week and ask their creators if they could give us their recipes. All three were more than willing to oblige! Beginning with…


These were barely on the table before they were sucked up. Luckily I grabbed a drumstick and did a good auld dip in the sauce. Malachy is a great little cooker so he is…

Spatchcocked Chicken Marinade

Grated orange rind (just the orange bit, not the white membrane)

Orange juice

Olive oil

Finely chopped red chilli (I used a birdseye)

Smoked paprika

Minced garlic

Fennel seeds


Brown sugar


Mix the lot in a bowl (except the orange juice) until you get a thick paste, then add the orange juice to thin it out a little. Rub the chicken all over with it. Leave in the fridge for at least four hours into an IKEA ziploc bag (it has 2 zips and doesn’t leak), but preferably a day.

Preheat oven to 190ºC and roast for 1hr 10min. I did this for the cook-out, then put the chickens on the barbecue for 10-15 minutes to heat through and take on some extra flavour.

Satay Sauce

Jar of crunchy peanut butter (Tesco do one that’s only 49c and is perfect for the job – none of the fucking sandal and sock wearing wholemeal peanut codology)

Finely chopped birdseye chilli

Thai red curry paste

Minced garlic

Fish sauce

Brown sugar

Cayenne pepper

Sesame oil

Lime juice

Put the peanut butter, chilli, red curry paste and minced garlic into a saucepan and gently heat through. Add all the remaining ingredients (except the lime juice) and stir through. Finally, add lime juice until it’s just there on the tastebuds – it shouldn’t be the standout flavour. Allow to cool.

Alas, the libations somewhat distracted Malachy and his companions to get a photo of his glorious chicken, but that’s allowed!


As I said to Aisling, “it’s not easy to make an artichoke look sexy.” But by gum, James Nesbitt took this shot of our Aisling’s artichoke and pimped it out!


This shot was awarded best photo by LeCool and James bagged himself a €100 Superquinn voucher. But let’s not forget that it tasted amazing too! Aisling talked me through it and this is what she did.

Take one globe artichoke. Cut off the stem and some of the leaves if they’re a little tough. Give it a rinse and gently open up some of the leaves a wee bit. Drop a little water and butter into it and steam for about 45 minutes to an hour. Char grill on your barbie to give it some smokiness and colour.  Douse in a tarragon dressing that you make by combining equal amounts of olive oil to white wine vinegar, throw in some dijon mustard, a little crushed garlic, salt and pepper and plenty of chopped fresh tarragon.



These were the nicest wee morsels I tasted all day. Not just because I am so unaccustomed to eating cuts of offal such as the heart, but because they just grilled so bloody well.  We ended up giving Elena a  special “Best In Show” prize not just for making such awesome food but because she was so bloody generous. She made enough to feed an army! And she converted even the most squeamish to wolfing down something that they would never eat in a million years. Respect!

The marinade was made of teriyaki sauce, specifically the “Healthy Boy Brand” from Asia Market, paprika powder, a drop of sesame oil and red wine.  Skewer and marinade the chicken hearts overnight, which you can buy very easily in any good Polish grocery such as Polonez on Henry Street.

Again thanks to all involved for such a wicked day. We hope to be doing another For Food’s Sake event some time soon. Stay tuned here for further details.

For Food’s Sake Barbecue Cook Out! TOMORROW!!!

Posted on: 10 August 2012 No comments

Stress levels for certain Irish restaurant owners and food operators have been somewhat elevated of late.  Masterchef have been busy shooting the second series and they’ve been out on location in selected establishments with their contestants either cooking or hanging out with suppliers. There’s nothing like a bit of telly for wicked PR and for bringing on one’s ulcers. I know of at least two businesses that were doing last minute paint jobs and freebie lunch offerings so that their interiors would look more snazzy and customer filled.

It’s cool to know that certain places will receive additional exposure from being featured on the show and I have no doubt that it will pull in major amounts of viewers once again. But there is one thing that the producers need to seriously address if they want me and many of my like to watch it again. There has to be a NO CRYING LIKE A REDHEADED STEPCHILD rule.  The contestants on the Irish show last year looked like they were supposed to be at the wailing wall in Jerusalem. Every time I turned it on, all I could see was yet another culinary hopeful bawling his or her eyes out like total bitches.  The service industry is particularly tough. If somebody is going to cry every time they finish a shift, then they should be immediately  kicked up the hole and disqualified. Honestly, I don’t know of any chef/bar manager/caterer who would tolerate somebody who regularly turns into a blubbering mess. Masterchef puts them through a typical 12 hour day and half the contestants turn into emotional trainwrecks from some kitchen graft? Try doing that day in day out and see how far they can go before they have a nervous breakdown or go completely radio rental.

It also kinda bugs me that RTE have to take on a foreign owned format to make a food show. Especially when one of their own has been doing so well and is actually really good.  Martin & Paul’s Surf n’ Turf has been exceptionally decent viewing. The premise behind it of going to a different Irish location every week and each chef cooking what’s best from the sea and the land, works really well. We get to know a town’s fish and meat industry as well what they have by way of seasonal produce and where it can be bought. To add an extra dimension to the programme, the chefs have to battle it out in a cook off – as Martin prepares the fish dish and Paul takes something from the land.  RTE can very often produce vast piles of shite for our tellyboxes, it’s great when you get to see something that is 100% homegrown in every sense and is of such high quality. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Those of you who have watched it will have hopefully picked up plenty of tips for our barbecue cook out, which is happening TOMORROW!!!

Yes I’m using this week’s post to offload about Masterchef, give props to Martin & Paul and to remind yez all about the For Food’s Sake Barbecue Cook Out taking place in the smoking area of Toner’s Pub on Lower Baggot St from 3 – 7pm, TOMORROW!!!

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Here’s the deal. We will be rounding up four barbecues to light up at in the MASSIVE smoking area of Toner’s Pub.  You have to supply and cook your own food. We will also supply paper plates, cooking utensils and cooler boxes to hold your food.  We have even managed to line up a couple of food producers who will be on hand to dish out free samples of their sauces, Mic’s Chili and Tully B’s. It’s free in but we will be asking for a contribution towards transport and charcoal etc.  There have been a few peeps on asking some questions so I may as well share them:

WILL IT BE CHILD FRIENDLY? – Yes we will even round up a few toys and distractions for the chisellers.

WHAT’S THE STORY IF IT RAINS? – There’s still loads of spots for shelter so we’ll be grand.

CAN I BRING ME OWN BOOZE? – No you cannot. It’s a fucking boozer for jaysus’ sake.

WILL THERE BE A COMPETITION FOR BEST PHOTO? - Yes there will! Our pals in LeCool will be judging that and there’ll be a €100 Superquinn voucher up for grabs as well some other goodies!

So there yez have it. Come along, cook and have some craic. I’ll be making ribs that I’ll be lashing out two ways. Davis Family style and wild plum style.  In seperate trips of foraging both myslef and Ed Hick have been picking up geansai loads of wild Mirabelle plums. They’re yellow and about the size of cherry tomatoes and sweet as fuck.  Here’s me mate Killian picking some just the other day. You can call him the yellow plum leprechaun now if you see him.


Delicious blondey fruit and plums too (seriously, go pick these now, they’re so tasty and FREE)

I infused most of the mirabelles with booze but I kept some and blitzed them into a sauce for my ribs. Here’s how.



- About 40 wild Mirabelle plums – they are particularly prevalent all around Bray, look for ‘em, it won’t take you long to find some.

- 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger

- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

- 1 medium sized onion, finely diced

- 4 cloves of crushed garlic

- 1 teaspoon of Mic’s Chili Inferno Sauce

- 2 tablespoons of honey


Get out a pot. Remove the stones of the plums over the pot so that you can drop them in easily and any juice falls into the pot. Lash in everything else and cook on a low enough heat with a lid on for about half an hour. Stir it every now and then too. After 30 minutes blitz the lot and put it aside to baste on ribs or duck.

I don’t have a photo of how it looks on my ribs yet but I will tomorrow. Or better still, just come along tomorrow and check ‘em out for yourselves!


15 August 2014


21 July 2014


30 May 2014

Little J’s Slow Cooked Ribs

25 April 2014

Jason & Brenda Byrne’s Veggie Chilli

21 March 2014

Omar’s Jamaican Stew Chicken

21 February 2014