Chef Profile March 2020: Daniel Harvey, head chef at Havana Bank Sq & The Sagart, Belfast
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO COOKING?
I started to get into cooking at the age of 19 after deciding that I wanted to take a year out of university, where I was studying Economics and Finance. I sort of knew that that wasn’t the career for me at the time and I always had an interest in cooking from a young age, which I probably get from my mum who was, and still is, a fantastic home cook.
HAVE YOU ANY CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS?
I have NVQ level 2 and 3 in Professional Cookery, but I value experience over qualifications in this industry.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE TRADE?
I started working in the hospitality industry at the young age of 15 but it was predominantly front of house. I started my first chef job in Benedict’s of Belfast, and then I had a few stints in other places before I decided I wanted to work in a Michelin star restaurant in London.
I worked my way up for three years in Chapter One before I decided I was ready to come home. The hours and the pressure started to take its toll on me at that time.
I briefly owned my own restaurant outside Templepatrick but unfortunately it was just a bit too secluded and didn’t work out for me, so I decided to take a bit of time out and went into consultancy and agency work.
After just over a year, I needed to get back to professional kitchens and that’s when I took over at Havana.
HAS ANYONE INSPIRED YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
I get a lot of inspiration from cookbooks, eating out and from my sous chef Paul Shannon, who I have worked with for years. Although one of my all time favourite chefs is Phil Howard, whose cookbooks inspired me throughout my career.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN YOUR CURRENT VENUE?
I joined Havana in the summer of 2018.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
I use as many local suppliers and artisan companies as I can; for me, it’s all about the quality which Ireland has on its doorstep. Although we don’t produce everything in our country that is needed to run a restaurant so we source from all over Europe
WHAT SIZE IS YOUR STAFF?
Currently at the minute, we have a team of seven chefs, two kitchen porters and a front of house team of eight.
WHOSE CAREER WOULD YOU WISH TO EMULATE?
There’s no one person I would wish to emulate as I have taken inspiration from many chefs which has helped me carve my own career and my own style.
HAVE YOU ANY INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK?
In my spare time and especially over the summer, I like to spend my time up the North Coast with my wife at the caravan. Surfing, long walks along the beach and a few beers at the Harbour Bar is the ideal getaway for me.