breaking news

It’s back to work for Jasper

November 1st, 2017 | by LCN Editor
It’s back to work for Jasper
Features
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Former Boathouse co-owner, Jasper Castel, has swapped award-winning fine dining for a life behind the grill – and more time with his family.

Under the stewardship of Dutch brothers, Joery and Jasper Castel, Bangor’s Boathouse restaurant claimed a slew of top culinary awards including three AA rosettes and a place on the Sunday Times Top 100 rankings – the first time a restaurant from Northern Ireland had appeared on the list.

That successful, eight-year run came to an end in October last year when the brothers sold the venue to neighbouring hotelier, Ken Sharp.

In the months since, Joery has maintained his profile in the trade, signing on as head chef at Belfast’s prestigious Saphyre restaurant in December.

Brother Jasper, however, who initially left the Boathouse in order to spend more time with his young family, has been less conspicuous. But that’s beginning to change as the 39-year-old Dutchman embraces his enduring passion for casual cooking – particularly outdoors.

Jasper has just taken up a UK-wide freelance position with artisan BBQ manufacturers, the Big Green Egg (BGE), meaning that going forward, he’ll be a familiar sight on the BGE stand at events such as Meatopia and the Chelsea Flower Show, where he’ll be co-ordinating menus and demonstrating the product to the public.

The new job marks a re-emergence into the public eye for the popular Dutchman, who joined his brother, Joery in Ireland in 2005. A former restaurant manager, Jasper went to work with Joery at Bridgestone Catering and Event Management in Co. Armagh and so their partnership was born.

The Boathouse first opened its doors in 2008, a result of the brothers’ frustration with the limitations of the outside catering sector in which they worked.

“We tried to make the best of it, but it wasn’t really what we wanted for ourselves,” Jasper told LCN some years ago.

With the advent of the Boathouse, however, the brothers had a fitting outlet for their culinary abilities and the tiny venue thrived over the years, winning considerable recognition before finally, it changed hands last year.

It was the end of an era for the Dutchmen, but speaking to LCN this month, Jasper conceded that when his son, Pip (2½) was born, he had begun to struggle with the competing demands of home life and his job at the Boathouse.

“Eventually, I couldn’t divide my time between my family and my work anymore,” he admits. “I didn’t feel that it was worth it for me. The restaurant was successful, but this [the decision to leave] had more to do with work/life balance. I couldn’t force myself to do 60 or 70 hours a week in the business and make it work for everybody, so I had to take the decision at some point to cut my ties.”

 

Jasper’s passion for barbecue cooking has always been there, but it really blossomed five or six years ago when he bought a Big Green Egg artisan barbecue grill. These are ceramic Kamado-style grill units from America that have been designed to deliver a much superior grilling experience.

During his time at the Boathouse, Jasper had become friendly with Pete Gough and Alan Royle, both of whom worked for The Stove Yard in Newtownards, the NI agents for the BGE,

“When they got the local agency for the brand, they asked me if I’d like to help them with it, doing demos and the like, so I started with that and it led to us getting involved with things like the Dalriada Festival and the Sea Bangor Festival,” says Jasper.

“That continued to evolve after I gave up the restaurant, but it was all very casual. Then, last year, I met with BGE UK and we talked about everything that was going on here in NI to promote the BGE. Six months later…they offered me a freelance job, so now, I’ll be doing events for them all year round, things like Meatopia and the Chelsea Flower Show.”

In mid-October, Jasper made the trip to BGE headquarters in Atlanta, USA, where he took part in the annual EGGtoberfest, an annual celebration of the brand and barbecue food.

“This is the way that I see things going for me now,” says Jasper. “Joery was always leaning more towards fine dining at the Boathouse while I was more interested in the bistro and the flavours and more casual and relaxed ways of cooking.

And of his decision to leave the Boathouse, Jasper says:

“It was hard. It was seven or eight years of my life and soul and it took us a couple of conversations, but we both decided that it was for the best. I didn’t want to go back and Joery didn’t want to come with me.

“My son is still my number one priority, and the world of BGE. I want to see where it takes me…For me, ambition always changes. At the Boat House, we wanted to become the best in NI, which I think we did. When I came here, I was just after a nice job working for myself and a nice life, and I think I have that now.”

One Comment

  1. Lieneke says:

    Well done Jasper. We are very proud!

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