My Weekend: Meet the duo behind the 'hottest' ticket in town this summer

RockSteady Food Co are friends Conor Lyons and Aaron Comerford. We chat to them ahead of an upcoming event in West Cork on July 20, in association with Flavour.ie
My Weekend: Meet the duo behind the 'hottest' ticket in town this summer
Aaron Comerford and Conor Lyons of RockSteady Food Co.

RockSteady Food Co are friends Conor Lyons and Aaron Comerford. They are known for their Cook Out Parties. But on July 20, they will be heading out west bringing with them their Grub N Dub Club in a collaboration with Flavour.ie that is sure to be the hottest ticket in town this summer!

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Conor (C): I’m Conor, Cork born, bread and buttered — I grew up in Glenbrook in the lower harbour and moved into the city while I was in college. I’m the youngest of two — my older sister Evanna is the real boss in the family! My mum and dad still live in Glenbrook, my mum is a blow-in originally from Dublin but she’s gained honorary Cork citizenship after almost 35 years! My dad is from Ballinlough originally and one of our best customers, he loves hot sauce! My dog Sanka the French bulldog is my partner in crime along with my girlfriend Marianna.

Work-wise I keep myself busy with a few different projects! I DJ a few nights a week around the city, and my days are split between Cork Heritage Pubs and RockSteady Food Co. I’ve been lucky enough in life that I’ve been able to turn my passions into my work — so none of it really feels like work to me!
Aaron (A): I’m Aaron, originally from Dublin but I moved to Kilkenny with my family when I was 12. I am the oldest of two, although my sister Leah claims the number one spot in the family. My dad, also my best friend, is a man of all trades but recently found his calling in teaching fitness to people struggling with mental health problems. My mother is the glue that holds the house together and somebody I could not live without. She works as a Montessori teacher in Kilkenny city.

I enjoyed living in Kilkenny but after I left school, I found that there wasn’t much for me there so, after a quick stint in Australia, where I found my first taste of the kitchen, I wound up in Cork studding Culinary Arts. I instantly fell in love with the city.

As for work I am currently working as a chef in a cafe restaurant called Vikki’s located in Sundays Well. I recently just finished my level 7 in Culinary Arts but I have signed up for a Level 8 so I am still in full-time education. I try to focus all my remaining time on RockSteady. I try to pack a lot into a week, it keeps it interesting.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

C: Friday nights are usually spent behind the decks in Crane Lane or BDSM, I haven’t seen an episode of the Late Late in 10 years! If I’m not DJing myself, chances are I’m catching a gig elsewhere!
A: Really depends on the week! I am fond of a pint with the lads but most of my Fridays are spent in the house cooking and watching movies with my girlfriend Sandy.

Lie ins or up with the lark…which is it for you?

C: Lie ins all the way, I’m normally putting the head to the pillow just before the lark starts singing.
A: Definitely lie-ins! I spend most of my days getting up at 6am so if the chance comes for a lie in, I’m taking it!

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

C: Totally! My weekend these days is usually a Tuesday — but I’m not very good at switching off so it doesn’t bother me!
A: Work is busiest on the weekend. I love it, so at the end of the day not much to complain about.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

C: Catania in Sicily is top of my list at the moment. My girlfriend is from Basilicata, in the south of Italy, so as well as being the ultimate translator from my Corkish to Italian, she spots the chancers a mile off! A few days enjoying the volcanic wines of Mt Etna and chowing down on some local fare sounds like heaven!
A: Valencia, with my girlfriend! Sandy is from there and even from a young age I have loved Spain and all things Spanish — not to mention Valencia is the best place in Spain for a paella.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

C: With the summer due any day now, I love heading west for a few hours, even if it’s only as far as Kinsale, getting a bit of a walk along the beach or a bottle of Stonewell outside the Bullman in the good weather is great for the soul.
A: Home itself, whenever I feel like I need a good rest and a moment to clear the head, I hop on a bus straight to my mam and dad’s house where I spend most of the time raiding the fridge watching movies with my da, chilling with my sis and having chats with the mother. I return to Cork 100% refuelled.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

C: Very much so! A trip down to the Blackrock market on a Sunday morning is a must, enjoy some great local food on the pier, take a walk down the old railway line and catch up with everybody I bump into along the way!
A: My days off change depending on my roster but if me and my dad have the same days off, without a doubt, he hops in the car to come down to Cork for food, a swim on the coast and a catch-up.

Do you get to indulge in any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

C: Every day of the week! Music and food really make me tick, so that I’ve managed to make a career out of both is massively exciting.
A: Just so happens that my main hobbies are cooking and eating so I make a real effort to continue to enjoy them both inside and outside of work.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

C: Entertain for sure! In the colder months, I love to make a big pot of something to warm the bones and invite my mates around to try my latest concoction. For New Year’s Eve it was gumbo for all my friends home from England; we all headed to a friend’s place in West Cork and scoffed 10 litres of the stuff long before the fireworks went off at midnight!

I’ve recently started experimenting with my new smoker in the yard too, so if the weather is fine for the weekend there’s a good chance there’s brisket/pork shoulder/duck being cooked low and slow.
A: I love to cook for people inside the house, any one of my mates that come to my house always leave fed whether they are just calling up to say ‘Hi’ or with the intent of getting food! I would not say I have a signature dish, but I have a few ingredients I just love to cook with such as garlic, chilies and lemon.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

C: Soma, Alchemy or Arthur Mayne’s for my coffee (I drink a lot of coffee!) I spend most weekdays on the flat of the city so for lunch it’s either the Old Town Whiskey Bar for one of their delicious spiced beef sandwiches, Rocketman HQ for a salad bowl or the new Joes & Bros in Winthrop Arcade.
A: Sandy and I are both sushi fanatics! Our favourite place in town for sushi is Dashi Sushi located just off Oliver Plunkett Street. Like a lot of people, I enjoy a pizza from time to time and a good local brew. You can find both in Rising Sons — also zero air miles on your pint.

Sunday night comes around too fast…how do you normally spend it?

C: A large glass of red wine and some home cooked food!
A: Sandy and I usually do a shop on Sundays for the house, so that evening we cook up a storm that is always intended to last three days but never makes it past one!

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

C: The crack of 9am.
A: 6am.

UPCOMING EVENT
Grub N Dub Club takes place at Tots Bar in Ballygurteen just outside Clonakilty on Saturday, July 20. See: www.flavour.ie/rocksteady

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