Lee Tiernan’s work speaks for itself. No fancy PR, no influencer hustling, just raw creativity and thrilling food got him where he is today. Tiernan got his start in one of London’s best kitchens where he would hustle for 10 years until starting Black Axe Mangal with his wife, Kate. From there, their work and dedication blossomed into one of the most exciting projects in the culinary world, earning critical acclaim and garnering an international fan base. Tiernan’s authenticity and commitment to being an original makes us here at YETI both proud and hungry for what’s next.
What goes through your head when you first wake up in the morning when you cook?
Always the first thing on my mind is usually how many times can I get away with hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock, second is a cup of tea, some can’t function without coffee. I'm the same about tea. Next is organizing the kids for school then I can start piecing my day together depending on what’s ahead be it a busy service at the restaurant or something exciting like an event or outside catering gig.
Where is your favourite place to cook?
My favourite environment to cook has always been and always will be outside. Winter, spring, summer or autumn, day or night. Preferably over a big fire with a few cold beers in hand and good company.
Tell us a favourite story from a day out?
A cherished memory of mine is the day my dad let me cut school to go fishing together. We only caught a few tiddlers but we cooked our lunch and shared time in the great outdoors which is what I think fishing is about. Catching fish is a bonus.
How do you up your game year after year?
I try to work on moving away from bad habits. I’m constantly seeking to improve my technique and simplify my narrative while remembering to keep things as much fun as possible. Collaboration is something I strive for. It’s a joy to work with others and learn so much in the process. Recently I’ve started to understand that achieving balance is very healthy in the pursuit of happiness and wellbeing.
If you could do anything better, what would it be?
Nothing. I’m pretty perfect. Okay. Not really...I’m always trying to be better, be it a better dad or cook or husband, friend...not at any point am I like, “I’ve made it!! I don’t have to try anymore cause I’m the best I’ll ever be at this,” there is always room for improvement.
Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to?
My parents are pretty legendary. My wife is a total badass. Tom Waits is someone I always admired for his individualism and unwavering vision with his craft. The Gubbeen family in Ireland for the sheer productivity and general awesomeness. Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson for putting me on the right trajectory as far as my career goes. It’s a difficult question. The older I get the more admiration I have for others, key workers, doctors, nurses, people who serve their communities to name but a few. I’ve never been more grateful and aware that the lengths and efforts of others enhances society for us all.
What haven’t you accomplished that you aspire to do in your lifetime?
I’d like to do more for others in my lifetime—make a difference, help where I can and where’s needed. I’d like to write another book.
What part of you, or what you do, reflects a spirit of restlessness?
I think the evolution of my food reflects my spirit of restlessness. My attention span can be short but I get a lot done in that time, then move on to something else before returning again to pull it apart and rebuild the idea. A moving target is harder to hit right? Keeps things interesting for everyone.
If there is any love-hate relationship with any aspect of what you do, can you describe what that is?
Time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve everything. It’s hard to split myself between business and home at times. Striking the right balance is crucial.
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of people having a good time.
I am happiest when...
I am happiest when I am cooking outdoors with a cold beer and good company.
If you could bring anybody in the world with you to do what you love (dead or alive), who would it be?
I’d go fishing with Tom Waits.
What does YETI mean to you?
YETI screams quality, 100% reliability, durability. I have total faith in the product.
What does it mean to be built for the wild?
To be built for the wild means matching whatever challenges Mother Nature throws at us. The team at YETI takes this into consideration every step of the way from a design perspective maximizing the aesthetic, practical, and durable qualities of all their products.
How would you explain what YETI is to someone who didn’t know?
Whether you’re using your YETI equipment in the wild or transporting food and produce for an outside catering event you need equipment you can rely on, build a relationship with. We’ve all had that knife or flask or bag we have total confidence in right? YETI is exactly that. YETI is a product you can depend on to perform time and time again and will enhance any outdoor pursuit or activity.
What is the YETI that you cannot do without?
The YETI product I use the most is my Rambler® 18 oz. Bottle. Fits into the clasp on my exercise bike and keeps my tea hot for hours. My favorite however is my Hopper Backflip® Soft cooler. Such a reliable piece of kit, I love that I can carry it on my back. I’ve taken temp sensitive food overseas in it and it’s never let me down.
What, if any, other YETI products do you use? How do you use a specific YETI product in your market? What is your one favourite aspect or feature of your YETI?
The Tundra Haul® Wheeled Cooler. I use a temperature sensitive dough at Black Axe Mangal. If it gets too hot it expands and can’t be used. I know beyond any doubt because I have done many times that I can transport my dough with confidence without the worry of it spoiling.
How has any YETI product changed what you do or how you do it?
YETI has given me more confidence with events outside my restaurant. When I do anything outside the restaurant it’s all about controlling the variables. YETI helps me achieve this. YETI keeps my food cold or hot, intact and orderly. YETI literally assists with my stress management. The coolers are a joy to use.
What do you do to relax?
Recently I’ve seen the value in exercising. Exercise keeps me in great mental and physical health. I love spending time with my children, wife and family and friends.