First Encounters: Sandy and John Wyer
John Wyer is from Cork and met his wife Sandy in Germany where they worked together before returning to his homeland. After moving to Dublin and working in fine dining, they recently opened their own restaurant, Forest Avenue in Dublin 4.
I remember the first time I saw Sandy. It was in a pub in Germany, and I was just kind of checking her out. A few days later I spoke to her, in the same pub in Heidelberg, a small student town in Germany.
That was the start of our working relationship and we’ve always had a great one. I trust Sandy completely. She’s very good at what she does, so there’s never been a reason for us to fight . . . The last few months here have been hard, because it’s been a completely different animal. Setting up a restaurant has been a strain, so you have a few arguments here and there, but we enjoy each other’s company.
I suppose we had spent nearly three years in Germany and both of us had worked in a few different restaurants, so the thought process was we would come back to Ireland and begin the project of trying to better our careers, learn more, and ultimately begin on a path of setting up our own restaurant. We were young chefs at the time, went to the technical college in Cork while working in restaurants in Cork city.
Her accent is quite funny to me now . . . I only realise the difference when I meet her family. When I hear her sister go into her Queens accent, I realize that’s how Sandy should sound, but instead she sounds a bit like me!
Sandy is very calm. She has amazing self-control and has a massive calming influence on people. She’s very, very good at handling pressure, whereas I’m edgy and I can lose the plot very quickly. She’s at her best with pressure – she eats it up. We had a pretty tough year setting up this restaurant, a project of about nine months. She was so solid throughout the whole process, very strong . . . I knew that before, but after setting up the restaurant, I reflected on it again and just thought, ‘God, that’s so amazing to be like that’. Not a lot of people can. Even now she’s taking on a role that’s new to her, running front of house, and she’s thrown herself into it.
She’s a great home cook. She does amazing Thai curries. At home we like to eat things we’re normally not surrounded by, so North African food, that kind of thing. She whips up curries in a few minutes. There will be nothing in the fridge and all of a sudden she has an amazing green curry and I’m like, ‘how the hell did that happen?’
We’ve got a week off in January and we’re going to spend that week focusing on the next step for the restaurant. We haven’t had time to think about it. People say, ‘you must be so proud’, but we haven’t even thought about it.
We’ll go to Cork on Christmas Eve, go to my local, and take a couple of days to sit on the couch, eat and drink wine, just like most Irish people.