A pair of celebrity chefs from Northern Ireland paid a visit to Derry and Londonderry last week to learn about history while filming a new television cooking program.
Celebrity chefs Paul Rankin and Nick Naim came to the United States to film their new cooking show, using locations in this area for inspiration for their food.
The show, “Paul and Nick’s Big Food Trip,” features best friends Rankin and Naim as they travel around Ireland and Scotland, visiting towns and cities, and creating modern meals along the way that celebrate the Scotch-Irish heritage.
The cooking series is aired on Ulster Television and Scottish Television.
The series being filmed in America takes Rankin and Naim, all along the East Coast from Maine to Boston to Washington, D.C., following the pair as they travel, meet people, learn about the food and culture, and ultimately cook for people whose roots trace back to Scotch-Irish descendants across the Atlantic.
“We are particularly interested in Londonderry and Derry because of its strong Ulster-Scots connections,” the show’s assistant producer Milene Fegan wrote in an email.
Coming to this area was key as it is a vital connection to the history between both Northern Ireland and namesake communities on this side of the ocean.
One of the chefs’ first stops while visiting this area was to meet with Derry town historian Richard Holmes at the historic Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry.
The film crew followed Naim and Rankin as they toured the cemetery with Holmes, learning about all the notable early settlers buried there who began the first settlement known as “Nutfield.”
That included finding the grave of earliest pioneer the Rev. James MacGregor.
“It’s been a fabulous trip so far,” Rankin said.
The crew also filmed segments of the cooking show at nearby First Parish Church.