Can this Delvin man stand the "Heat"?

Story by Paul Hughes

Tuesday, 10th February, 2009 11:50am

Yet another amateur chef from Westmeath will put their cooking skills to the test in front of the nation, when the new series of RTÉ"s acclaimed cookery competition, "Heat", airs from Tuesday next, February 17.

Last year, Mullingar businesswoman Ann Hamill immersed herself in the preparation of a variety of colourful dishes, earning her a place in the first ever "Heat" final, where she was unlucky to fall at the final fence.

In 2009, it"s the turn of Delvin man John Donlon to impress, as he goes head-to-head with other budding Gordon Ramsays to clinch the ultimate prize.

John (38), a qualified horticulturist, has been married to Joan for the past nine years, and developed a keen interest in cookery when preparing dinner for his wife and their two young daughters.

On leaving school, John apparently wanted to train as a chef, but was talked out of it by his mother, who thought that the long hours faced by top hotel cooks would 'ruin his social life'.

Now John mixes his passion for food with his love of good company, and he regularly throws dinner parties at his home in Ballinacor, Delvin, proudly claining that he 'hasn"t poisoned anyone yet'.

John will function as one half of 'Team Thornton' with 20 year old Tralee student, Niamh Switzer, receiving his culinary instruction from renowned Irish chef Kevin Thornton.

In Tuesday night"s first episode, each chef will cook off against one another to win the vote of their mentor in a bid to represent the team in the "Heat" restaurant. For one night, the restaurant is split down the middle and one chef from each team goes head to head.

The punters decide the winner of each programme, with the winners of the first five shows going through to the "Heat" semi-finals.

On Tuesday night (RTÉ One, 8pm), John and Niamh will cook off against each other at Kevin Thornton"s restaurant in Dublin to earn the chance to represent the team in the "Heat" restaurant on Sunday night.

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