Kim Lenaghan obituary: Broadcaster and food critic who championed Northern Irish cuisine

Warm and bubbly Belfast native ‘built North’s reputation as a destination for food lovers and a travel hotspot’

Born: December 24th, 1960

Died: September 11th, 2022

Kim Lenaghan, the popular BBC Radio Ulster broadcaster and food critic, has died at 61 in Belfast following complications after a fall. She had worked with BBC Northern Ireland for 25 years and was best known as the presenter of BBC Radio Ulster’s weekend mornings and the Sunday lunchtime radio food programme, the Foodie.

In it she explored in detail the produce of the region and loved interviewing those who created it, from fishing communities and chefs, to vegetable growers and cheesemakers. Her impact on the food sector cannot be underestimated, says Joris Minne, restaurant critic of the Belfast Telegraph. “She was committed to the development of food culture in Northern Ireland and building its reputation as a destination for food lovers and a travel hotspot.”


The daughter of the late Rex, an engineer, and Valerie Lenaghan, she grew up in Glengormley, east Belfast with a younger brother. She attended Glengormley High School and recalled a happy childhood. After graduating from Queen’s University with an honours arts degree in English literature and from the University of Ulster with a Master of Arts in marketing, she landed a job as a press officer with the Northern Irish Tourist Board in the late 1980s. As head of press relations she would often wow international guests at the tourist board chairman’s country estate near Broughshane with her astonishing jazz singing. Hugh O’Neill, the then chairman, believed her to be the strongest weapon in the tourist board’s marketing arsenal, says Minne.

She left the board after six years and worked briefly in publicity at the Abbey Theatre where her natural ability as a broadcaster was spotted by RTÉ. She became a regular panellist on discussion shows and, having gone freelance, worked for a number of years for RTÉ and later for Downtown Radio where she had her own travel and entertainment show. She joined the BBC in 1997 initially working on newspaper reviews on Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme before becoming a news reporter working across Good Morning Ulster, Talkback and Evening Extra.

Warm and bubbly with a great sense of humour, she presented music and conversation programmes with a natural ease and versatility and for more than 12 years the Sunday morning programme, This New Day. Later, she embarked on television work with the series Country Times and Good Dog, Bad Dog; BBC Proms in the Park in Northern Ireland and the Balmoral Show. She was also the author of two books, A Little History of Golf, for Appletree Press, and Irish Superstitions and Lore (Angus & Robertson).

In 2017, she married Andrew Jones, a London management consultant whom she first encountered at a chance meeting at Belfast City Airport. Three months later, they tied the knot at a private registry office ceremony in Chelsea. The couple loved entertaining and regularly hosted dinner parties at home in Ballyhackamore near Belfast, Jones sharing her love of good food, cooking and travel and introducing her to his own passion for cars. He survives her.