Local Award Winning Chef Speaks Openly About Addiction

11 November 2019

Local Chef Brian Donnelly runs Belfast’s only authentic ramen noodle bar. The multi-award winning Bia Rebel is situated on the Ormeau Road, Belfast.

Local Award Winning Chef Speaks Openly About Addiction

Their punchy flavours and rebel attitude reflect Brian’s own unique journey, one which required overcoming an addiction to alcohol.

Brian credits sobriety with allowing him to build a vibrant new business. As this week is Alcohol Awareness Week, Brian & Addiction NI want to use his personal experience to show other alcohol-dependent people that positive change is possible.

Christmas is the season to go out and celebrate with friends and family; the hospitality business reaches its busiest time of year and drinking for many becomes the norm. At Addiction NI, we want people to improve the public’s understanding of the impact of alcohol and to consider the ways in which we drink, encouraging people to talk about alcohol and break the stigma that surrounds addiction.

Working in the hospitality business all his life, Brian took to drinking to overcome the stresses of the job, the late nights and after shift buzz. He lived his life to the extreme, working all hours, running extreme marathons, all whilst drinking heavily.  Brian eventually hit the wall and stopped. He stopped running, stopped drinking and stopped cooking. In Brian’s case, abstinence was how he chose to overcome his addiction and manage his own recovery.

Once in recovery Brian felt ready to start again by applying the same stripped back to basics methodology he adopted to facilitate his recovery. Starting with just two basic staple ingredients flour and water. The result was Bia Rebel simple, healthy food to nourish the body, mind and soul. His journey of rediscovering his love of cooking became another chapter of his recovery.

Watch the video in full below.

If you or someone you know would like the help and support from our team at Addiction NI you can find out information here or call 028 9066 4434.

Addiction NI provides treatment and support for people who are dependent on alcohol and other drugs. We provide tailor-made treatment programmes for people delivered in community settings. We work with people towards reducing harm and promote their recovery.

Brian Donnelly and his partner Jenny Holland started Bia Rebel Ramen with a stall at St George's Market in 2017. They opened a shop on the Ormeau Road the following year and won the Observer Food Monthly Award for Best Cheap Eats in all of the UK a few months later. Jay Rayner called their ramen, "poetry in a bowl." In addition to ramen, they offer rice dishes, fried chicken and homemade juices. In September they were named Best Healthy Takeaway in Ulster & All-Ireland at the Irish Takeaway Awards.

Alcohol Awareness Week runs from 11th – 17th November. Under the theme of ‘Alcohol and Me’, Addiction NI are encouraging people to become better informed about the effects of alcohol in order to help make positive lifestyle choices. For more information on our campaign click here.

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