A Manhattan meal talking about life, love and everything in between

My most treasured food memory: Derval O’Rourke, athlete

A few weeks ago I found myself in New York, sitting with one of my favourite people, enjoying one of the nicest meals I’ve ever had.

I was in the city with one of my best friends – Karen Shinkins. Karen was my first roommate on the Irish athletics team in the late 1990s. We roomed together for years and spent lots of time celebrating great days on the track and crying over the tough ones.

These days she lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons. We planned a mini trip to New York just to hang out with each other. Even though we talk every week on Facetime, there is nothing as good as seeing someone in person.

On the last night of our trip we strolled in to a busy restaurant on a corner near Grand Central Station. Straight away, it was a great experience.


It was full of people who looked like they had come straight from work. We got a little table and sat down with a glass of wine. My starter was a shrimp salad and it was delicious.

The best chat

We had the best chat. We talked about where we are in life and how we are feeling about it. Life post-professional track, life with small kids, and what we are doing for work.

Both our lives have changed massively in the past few years. We’ve gone from travelling the world racing, to settling down and starting new lives. For some reason, we needed a busy restaurant in the middle of Manhattan to really talk about it all.

We both got steak for our main course and at that point the wine was flowing. By the time our chocolate brownie arrived for dessert, we were fully discussing what makes us truly happy.

For me, the best food is about the experience. Life is about people and spending time with the ones that matter.

Derval O’Rourke is a former world champion athlete and healthy lifestyle consultant. She is a National Dairy Council ambassador and the author of Food For The Fast Lane and The Fit Foodie . See derval.ie.